August 5, 2018 - No Comments!

The Shifting Power Base with Employer & Candidate – Kate Kjeell

By Kate Kjeell

“Why do you want this job?” That was the ubiquitous interview question a decade ago.  Candidates needed to demonstrate their interest and prove themselves worthy of consideration.  

The question that now needs to be answered is “Why should I take this job?” and it is the candidate that is doing the asking.

You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to know that times have changed. We are collectively coming up on the 10-year anniversary of the great recession and nearing full employment.  In addition, technology, social media and access to crowd sourced information on hiring managers, companies and job openings have shifted the power to the consumer, in this case the candidate.

No longer can any of us sit back with the mentality “if we post it, they will come.”  Job opportunities need to be marketed just like products and services, and candidates need to be treated like your customers.  They expect to be wooed and presented with a compelling value proposition.

This shift in power extends all through the hiring process even to negotiations around compensation.  In many states, as in California, it is now illegal to ask about current or prior compensation.  The candidate is entitled to know the compensation range without divulging any information other than their expectations.

To attract great talent, progressive companies are already changing their approach to talent.  The early adopters will win.  It is not too late to shift your strategy.

Here are four things you might want to think about:

  • Value Proposition: What is the value proposition your company offers? Can everyone involved in the hiring process articulate that in a few concise sentences?  A clear message that authentically engages the individual sees an  improved response rates with higher quality passive candidates.  
  • Marketing Message: What is exciting about this particular job? What will this candidate get to do in the first year?  Call us at SBC to learn how we market a role with a very unique and tailored micro-site.  Our goal is to leave the job description as an artifact of the past and create a forward looking, digital friendly and compelling  story so that ideal candidates want to learn more.  Trust me – it works!
  • Market Savvy Total Rewards: How does your company create total rewards offerings that match up with the market? In this competitive market and with more access to compensation information, candidates are savvy.  Be prepared with an understanding of what the candidate wants balanced with your best thinking on an attractive offer.  Act quickly.  We are seeing more candidates with competitive offers than ever before. 
  • Back-Up Plans: What is my back-up plan to fill this position?  Based on all the factors outlined candidates do have multiple offers.  This leads to offers that may be declined or your need to explore a counter-offer.  Be prepared to engage with multiple candidates so that you have alternatives in this tight talent market. 

The rules of the hiring game are ever changing.  You have the opportunity to adapt and excel in successful hiring.  It will take some strategy, selling and astute selection.  Those of you adapting will thrive while seeing others go the way of Blockbuster Video, Polaroid or Tower Records.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter

August 5, 2018 - No Comments!

A Culture Story – Meet Bilal Khan, CEO of New World Medical

It is rare to meet a CEO who invests as much in people as he does in products. Bilal Khan, CEO of New World Medical is on a mission to deliver innovative solutions in vision to benefit the global community. As a matter of fact, one of their key values is to Benefit Humanity. The company works to achieve this lofty goal by developing, manufacturing, and marketing cutting-edge medical devices intended to alleviate the suffering of glaucoma patients around the world. 

We had the honor of meeting Bilal and his senior team last year to help them answer the question: “As we scale our efforts to Benefit Humanity, how can we maintain and enhance our mission-driven culture?”  Only an enlightened and open leader asks this kind of question as he embraces growth and greater impact in the world.  I was eager to catch up with Bilal to see how they are doing.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about New World Medical and the progress on your culture initiatives.

Bilal Khan: We are an ophthalmic device company based in Rancho Cucamonga focused on developing and distributing glaucoma implants and devices that empower surgeons to enhance the lives of their patients.  

Our team is proud of our tremendous growth, which has been driven by our collective focus on building collaborative relationships with surgeons and developing innovative technology to enrich the lives of patients.  Equally important has been New World Medical’s investment in our culture. Late last year we embarked on a journey to refine our core values and build upon the special foundation we have at New World Medical.  

Our partnership with your team, drove us to broaden executive coaching efforts, refine our charitable initiatives, create a culture committee, launch quarterly town halls, and refocus our employee engagement activities around community-building.  This work was essential for us to establish a scalable and authentic foundation for our rapid growth.

SB: You have mentioned the importance of coaching in your company – how does that show up today in your culture?

BK: We have an ongoing commitment to develop our team through coaching. It’s important for us to invest in our colleague’s success if we are going to be true to our mission. In our effort to better understand them and what they need from us to flourish; we have brought in external coaches for our managers and continue to build-out our professional development efforts. 

SB: What are you learning about innovation and taking risk? 

BK:  As the CEO, you have to decide whether you are building a business or only a product. If you’re building a business, invest in and empower your talent. I have learned that giving talented people autonomy, allowing them to take risks and creating the room to recover from occasional setbacks builds capabilities.  We strive to create an environment that gives our colleagues this space, while also holding them accountable to our collective mission. 

I have seen far too many entrepreneurs limited by their inability to recruit, maintain, and cultivate the necessary talent to scale and sustain the remarkable platforms they have built.  My philosophy is, you help me grow the business and we can share the success together. Talented folks yearn for a sense of ownership, and it is only a zero-sum opportunity if you don’t plan on growing.

SB:  What is your leadership philosophy?

BK: My leadership team needs the freedom to take on more responsibility and that requires trust.    My job is to coach them on process not tactics, which is a hard transition to make.  Most individuals that ascend to a leadership position do so by always having the right answers, but once your are charged with greater responsibility, you need to continually identify the right questions.

SB:  Is that part of the family owned, privately held philosophy?

BK: We are fortunate to have the luxury of a long-term perspective to building our business that is not distracted by the constant pursuit of a liquidity event.  Our family believes in New World Medical’s mission and this is something we focus on with potential hires.  When you join a family-owned business there are freedoms that come with our ability to focus on mission and values, however, there can be struggles too if it is not run as a meritocracy or there are confounding objectives. 

SB: How do you think about innovation in your industry?

BK: There have traditionally been two primary types of innovation in our space.  First, there is venture-driven R&D that is capital intensive and necessitates a substantial business opportunity to justify acquisition by a strategic. Second, there is less rigorous, incremental innovation driven by firms with narrower capabilities. 

These models leave the needs of many vulnerable patients unaddressed.  There may not be enough of them to attract the attention of multinationals or venture investment, and their ailments beyond the technological capacity of smaller firms.  For glaucoma patients, New World Medical hopes to bridge that gap.  Additionally, our long-term approach allows us to develop institutional knowledge and chart an iterative path towards improving patient care.

SB: What is your advice to other CEO’s who are growing their business?

The number one thing is to invest in and empower your talent.  If you do this and hold your team accountable to an inspiring, higher cause, it will lead to special results.

Closing thoughts...

Most of us like Bilal, probably want to give people autonomy and freedom to develop ideas that will take your business further.  It is logical yet we revert to company controls that used to work but today are obsolete.   It seems we invest in data, systems, machine learning, AI and now block chain today.  And, we underinvest in building a creative, agile and risk taking culture for our employees.  In Michael Arena’s new book, Adaptive Space, he talks about “fueling agility” in our business and touches on this freedom that we talk about.  Thank you Bilal for reminding us that the human investment is what matters in setting a collective mission that energizes us.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter

July 5, 2018 - No Comments!

Opportunity Guide – What are you learning this week?

There is something great about a holiday in the middle of the week.  It seems to slow us all down and allow for reflection.  It can be disorienting too.  I understand that too well.

Our ability to withdraw can be the best way to move ourselves forward.  Our success in doing this is letting go of "busy."  You are not getting lost or out of touch when you withdraw, you are allowing  yourself to return newly refreshed with more intention on what matters.

The real secret here is that the success we all strive for whether it is in our work or our transitions to something new, does not start with a list of to do's.  It might feel good having that check list to go to. However, it seems that a week like this with a break in the middle allows us to remove ourselves from the list making and make ourselves available from another ground.  We can look for that new ground and speak in a more clear and rested voice.

With your day or two off explore what is right in your life rather than what is wrong or missing.  Even when things are going well, our nature is often to search for the "problem to solve."   Ganesh, our lovely elephant-headed Hindu deva, is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and represents intellect and learning. Find your Ganesh this week, dispel those problems and focus on appreciating your gift of learning.

My friend Jeremy Hunter with the Drucker Institute says, "we can miss opportunities to appreciate what's beautiful, nourishing and even magical even when it's staring us in the face. All it takes is a slight shift in perception to notice what's around you and be fed by it."

So, in the spirit of withdrawal and being courageous to let go of busy, appreciate Ganesh too, I wish you all a week of rest and reflection.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

July 2, 2018 - No Comments!

What is your brand when you can’t be there ?

Every minute of the day, our brand communicates information about who we are, our character, interests, perspectives and performance. People can find out a lot about us online. If you have not googled yourself lately, I suggest doing that now. Are you pleased with what you see?

How you show up in social sends a message about yourself whether it is intentional or not. I think by now, most of us see the importance of having an authentic presence in social media. At least in the business world I participate in, you can’t avoid this. You are checked out before a networking meeting, before an interview and before someone says they want to do business with you.

Bob Johansen, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley recently wrote a book about leadership literacies as we look out the next ten years. He writes about one literacy in particular that has me thinking about how we “show up the world.”  He says we will need to be there for our teams across the world, when we are not there.  It is virtual and non-conventional platforms for communicating that will become norms.   We see it now.  We will earn trust in our network or our company through other means that just being in a physical setting.  Building on-line relationships and having presence virtually across geography will be more important in the future.  Technology makes this possible.

Imagine a future where; where you are leading a team without physical presence.  We have that now most of the time in our small and mighty team of recruiters. Our managing director, Kate Kjeell brings them together once a week for de-briefs and problem solving. Instant messaging keeps daily communication a key aspect of being present. We use phone, email, conference call, skype or combinations.

How do we convey presence when we can’t be everywhere?

Here are the three things to do in order to create your voice online:
1.) Ask yourself, “How will people know what I know?” In your effort to share a story online or your point of view make a list of topics that are important to you. These topics or themes are areas you are passionate about and will be the starting point for your writing, blog or on-line presence.
2.) Research how others are known in a field that interests you.  Where do they express themselves? Dorie Clark writes a book called, Stand Out. It is a great foundation for building a presence and point of view without being physically together.
3.) Share your ideas with your colleagues. How do others influence virtual teams?  Test out "being there when you aren't" by scheduling a skype call.

Consider being your best you, when not being there in person.  One of the future competencies to learn is how to lead when you are not there.  What is your way to start this journey?

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management, Talent Economy

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Does M&A Bring Welcoming Surprises?

This past week we hosted our pre-summer HRoundtable and were fortunate to have Gina Codd, VP of Global Talent Management & Development, Edwards Lifesciences, and Mark Oshima, Managing Partner of Aon’s Strategic Advisory Practice facilitate this session. 

Our HRoundtable is comprised of senior leaders in HR and meets quarterly to discuss forward looking topics and insights into relevant current challenges.  The goal is to learn from each other and think outside the box.  Gina and Mark did just that with a deep dive conversation into the world of M&A.  They were a fabulous duo looking at the work of due diligence and integrating companies, culture and people.   

Mark has extensive global experience with fascinating companies and provided the overview and the structure of a “perfect deal”.  He discussed the major phases of “doing the deal” and “making the deal work” as well as why deals fail and the criteria that drives a deal to success. There are a range of integration strategies based on the type of transaction and Mark shared insights on how the areas of Behaviors, Beliefs and Decisions intersect and ultimately shape culture.  

Gina has experience at the ground level with leading HR M&A efforts throughout her career.  Both Gina and Mark confirmed that while every deal is different, the value is in the learnings from repeatability and looking for patterns and trends.  Gina shared various dynamics and situations where a mentality of “welcoming surprises” and thinking like an air traffic controller is necessary to be agile through initial due diligence through integration.   

What is HR’s role in the M&A process? Both Mark and Gina talked about the critical role HR plays from the very beginning.  HR often enters at the integration stage but Gina shared what happens in the early stages of due diligence when companies are initially being evaluated and the initial requests for information are made.  Both Mark and Gina discussed how aspects of business acumen, critical thinking, adaptive capability, judgment and understanding cultural and strategic insight are all roles HR plays in Merger and Acquisition activity.  It dawned on me the Mergers and Acquisitions are an excellent opportunity for those in HR to get close to the business. 

I have been known when asked about HR career opportunities, to advise professionals to step out of HR into the business functions.  If M&A, business strategy and being the best HR Business Partner is a goal, then there could be nothing better than rotating out of HR to the business to gain this perspective.  In Ram Charan’s book, Talent Wins, there is a great chapter on “The New HR Career Path” that highlights specific case studies showing the power or rotations like this.   It is a two way street – for business leaders can rotate into HR for a talent immersion experience and HR moves out to the business to learn about adding value as well.   Want to add value to your business?  Consider this as a possibility to differentiate yourself and contribute at a higher level.  Although Gina is contributing her expertise from HR, she is clearly a key participant in a complex, multi-dimensional challenge with colleagues from diverse functions in order to help guide the company in its strategic business decisions.   Although Mark is a seasoned consultant in M&A he is extremely tuned in the importance culture and people play in the success of a deal.  The HRoundtable and I thank you both, Mark and Gina for sharing your wisdom in a fascinating interactive discussion which inspired us to think big.

If you are interested in learning more about joining the HRoundtable – please call Sherry at 562-594-6426 or sherry@sbcompany.net

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Brad Younggren and the Future of Healthcare

Meet Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer at 98point6

Imagine realizing breakthrough solutions with a one of a kind approach to primary healthcare in a way that has never been possible before. The Seattle based firm, 98point6 is embarking on that journey. They are using AI technology paired with distinguished, hand-selected and board-certified physicians from all regions of the country to bring on-demand care, diagnosis and patient engagement to all via our smartphones.  It is evident that innovation in accessible care that enhances benefits and creates passionate employees is just a glimpse of what they are creating.  

I spoke with Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer, so that I might learn a bit more about their journey to transform care with affordable scalable solutions to patients young and old. 98point6 delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis and treatment by using technology and smartphones to patients in 14 states with the goals of reaching 50 states by year’s end.  

Sherry Benjamins: Brad, tell me about you?

Brad Younggen: My career into medicine began in the Army as an emergency physician in Iraq.  Early on I could see the potential of using digital technology in saving lives.  I also had a great experience in using ultrasound to transmit digital information. We saw that phones could be medical devices, which allowed us to scale beyond where technology began in telemedicine. A friend of mine connected me to the impressive leaders at 98point6 where I saw Robbie Cape’s vision for allowing physicians to do their best work in offering quality care for all patients.  It was clear that the notion of leadership and investment in the physician side of the business as well as the technology platform had tremendous value and opportunity so I joined the organization in early 2017.

SB: How are patients dealing with technology?  What needs to be done to overcome the hurdles to adoption?

BY:  Most of us have leveraged the mobile phone in ways that make it essential for daily living.  The relationship that we aim to create using mobile technology is already something people understand.  Who isn’t making texting the go-to for their communication with others? We are not seeing age as an obstacle in adopting our platform. We do have video capability but it may surprise you that people don’t naturally opt for that.  

The smartphone is at the core of how we live.  We were pleased to see broad usage across demographics. 30% are ages 25-34 and 28% are 35-44. Over 90% would use the service again and last month 42% of visits were returning users with a new condition or question.  It does not appear that the technology is getting in the way at all. The top 5 categories treated range from upper respiratory conditions, dermatology issues, gastrointestinal or digestive and ear, nose and throat issues.  

SB: What does personalization mean for your company? 

BY:  We are meeting our patients where they are comfortable with technology. There is a board-certified doctor on our back-end model which means a personalized diagnosis and virtual high-quality care for each patient.  We deliver the whole spectrum of primary care and we are seeing patients really responding to the platform.  Some wonder how a text-based service can offer quality care.  Much of what is diagnosed today by primary care physician’s in-person can be treated by our physicians via or app.  Our in-app resolution rate is consistently over 85% and in March it was 93% and April 96%.  If we are unable to meet a specific individual need, we refer patients to an in-person primary care specialist or urgent care.

SB: What attracted you to 98point6?

BY:  It was clear from my first meetings with our CEO that quality care and physicians are at the center of this solution. They are carefully selected and physicians participate in in-person strategy retreats and contribute actively to product reviews. They really get to do what they value most here and that is to deliver care and have an impact.  We now have more than 100 employees and some of the very best minds in technology, medical and regulatory.  We have a Medical Advisory Board of 18 physicians and are recognized leadres in their specialty. They guide us in a powerful way. We attract top talent because our social mission is as compelling as our technical vision. 

SB: What are you learning from this experience?

BY: There is a leadership commitment to investing in technology, but more importantly investing in technology as it intersects with medicine. Our core values serve as the foundation for our behaviors and allow us to be focused on selecting new hires that are a long-term fit. These values include a bias for action, building trust, collaborating and committing to our patients and our team members as well as relentless improvement that guides our growth and success.  These are not just words on the website, they are seen in the actions of our leaders.

SB: And what have you learned about yourself so far?

BY:  I am learning that amazing things can inspire people to do great work.  There is a drive and a collaborative culture here focused on solving complex problems and I have seen this energy and tenacity consistently here at 98point6.  Through this experience I am also improving my own capacity as a leader. 

Conclusion

To be totally transparent here, after I spoke with Brad I had to try this service.  They make it really easy for you to log in and ask your health question. The Automated Assistant even had a sense of humor! We already have personalized experiences with other virtual applications and services so this seemed natural in many ways. I did not expect that as the skeptical baby boomer I am.  All I can say is, Alexa, watch out!  Thank you Brad for introducing this innovation to our community and we will be eager to learn more about this transforming journey for all of us.   

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

June 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Why it Pays to “Break the Rules” – Are you a Rebel?

There is a new book out that is worth exploring.  Francesca Gino, Professor of Business at Harvard just published, "Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life."

It is refreshing to read about others who break the roles, re-invent or change the world for better.  At a time when there is so much disturbing news and divide across the country, Francesca speaks to possibility and prospering even in this turbulent world.

The rebel leader is not just about people who lead others.  It is about those of us who thrive in a world of change and at times welcome discomfort.  It might be more natural for us humans to accept conformity, but Francesca shares rich stories of those that know themselves and stretch the boundaries.  One of her guiding principles is to encourage constructive dissent.  It is really about understanding all perspectives and gaining understanding before making decisions.  Her examples from Robert Kennedy to leaders at General Motors brings to life great rebels.

I so appreciated another one of her principles, which is "fostering happy accidents." One of our colleagues, Gina Codd from Edwards Lifesciences introduced the refreshing concept of "welcome surprises" at her company.  Cultures that welcome idea exchange, making mistakes and enjoying what you learn from accidents is clearly a place I would want to be.

What type of rebel are you? There is an assessment that allows us to explore that and learn.  Check out Francesca's book and begin to recognize that we need rebels in our work and life in order to bring about positive lasting change.  

 

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Newsletter

May 20, 2018 - No Comments!

A Unique College strategist – Meet Joe Teske

I met Joe Teske, business owner in the financial advising and career strategy arena, at a networking event this past March. I was taken by his passion and purpose around coaching others to be their best. He is a unique guide to those looking for answers and ideas about careers, money, college for kids or grandkids, or looking for insight and action in an unpredictable economy. 

Joe has been providing college planning and financial strategies for families for over 15 years.  Prior to this, he was an executive in aerospace, hiring/managing over 250 people. He has a deep understanding of college planning and job acquisition skills students need to succeed and he is a certified College Planning Relief specialist. His early years and continued expertise in financial planning helps him see the interconnectedness of financial and career in order to help families set direction and minimize costs. 

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Sherry Benjamins: How do you work with students before they are considering college?

Joe Teske: Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” I learned that there are numerous ways to make the college journey more efficient and effective. In our firm, Reliant College Planning Solutions (Reliant CPS), we work with students and their families to educate them on career, cost and college, in that order.

Up to 40% of students entering college undeclared (without knowing their major), will not graduate. I believe student’s and family’s focus should be primarily on the “40-year career” and not necessarily the 4-year college. We have tools to help students identify a best-fit career and major in which they will enjoy their work and be productive.  Isn’t this the hope of every parent – a child in an occupation they love?

The other element of this work is helping families characterize the affordability of college.  Oftentimes families don’t truly consider the total cost of attending college. Graduation rates in 4 years at public colleges averages 34%. Most students can take 5 or more years to graduate. When you consider this for each child in the family, and with the costs of college growing each year, it’s clear that laying out a multi-year budget is critical to understanding how a family will afford a college education.  

SB: What do you learn from students in this process?

JT: Each student has unique wiring. While the education system is structured around a relatively standard set of coursework through the first 14 years of education, each student can find a path that supports their specific interests.  Helping families themselves find the distinctive profession where their child will love the work they do is an extremely rewarding process.  

When you look at the education system outside the U.S., many adolescents are choosing their occupational direction by the 8th or 10th grade. It could be a trade, a technical path or academic. There are very few teachers bringing an assessment process to 10th graders. I believe that is a big loss. Why not introduce the potential careers to students much earlier?  When that is accomplished, there is a real sense of relief and hope as they are able to address their most pressing question, “What am I going to be/do?”  With a career narrowed-down, students choose classes in line with their future profession. I also see that often their GPA improves as they’re taking classes that match their wiring.  Life has just gotten much simpler – and easier for them.

SB: What are the stresses from their vantage point?

JT: The pressures placed on students today far exceed what we’ve seen, even ten years ago.  The competition now for each seat in college is international! And with an admission process that evaluates leadership, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, writing ability, and demonstrated interest, along with their GPA and aptitude test scores, our adolescents are facing more demands than ever before. The mental health of these students is strained to the limit. They are trying to please everyone – parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and even the yet-to-be determined college admissions office. Focusing your student on a direction matters, even if it changes over the process.  Earlier is better. 

SB: What is your perspective on the future of education?

JT: I am a parent of children in this age group and I see first-hand visibility of the demands placed on my children and others. In addition, with my background in financial advising, I understand the economics of the education system. Families are doing whatever they can to get in and get the degree. This has led to a national college debt level at $1.5 trillion- growing at $100 billion each year. This far exceeds credit card debt. College has become the new credit crisis.

I believe that going to college and finding your way – does not work any longer. Knowing your career path first is critical. It is too costly to be left to chance, and not knowing often leads to five or more years to get a degree. Families are exploring alternatives to this heavy cost burden. Many are sending their students to a 2-year college and then transferring to a 4-year university. Some colleges offer co-operative programs where the students alternate academic and work semesters to gain experience and pay during their education process.  Students are taking online coursework as well. One change I anticipate that will grow in the future is companies/industries working collaboratively to customize job structure and learning for their future employees. This has already started in the healthcare and information technology industries with certification programs. Entry- to mid-level position qualifications are met through specified course content without needing a 4-year degree.  The amount of money spent on education will draw more creative solutions like this in the near future.

SB: What is your advice to parents?

JT: Building a network is not just for the experienced working professional or parent. It is the right thing to do as a high schooler as well. Imagine having a LinkedIn profile and networking strategy starting in high school. This is now the new 21st century life skill.   


We will see creative solutions to these education challenges. We are learning from recent generation Z research, those children born into the digital everything, smart phone era, after millennials about how they learn and where they want to learn. They do not remember a time before social media.  Stay tuned for what education will need to look like for this next smart, start-up mentality talent of the future. 

If you have interest in learning more about the college and money challenges and solutions, please reach out to Joe Teske, Reliant College Planning Solutions at www.reliantcps.com. 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Education 2.0 with David Finegold, PhD

What will learning communities look like in the future?  Will universities transform themselves in light of the advancements in AI or robotics? What will students want to learn and how should their expectations be tailored to this new world of work? I met with a long-time friend, Dr. David Finegold, President of Chatham University, to listen to his perspective on these changes.

 Some of you may know David from his time at USC or the Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont before he navigated to the east coast with Rutgers and then onto some fascinating entrepreneurial ventures in the academic world. He has over 30 years of experience in higher education as a researcher, author, professor, academic dean, senior vice president and chief academic officer. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1985, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, from which he received his DPhil in Politics in 1992. He has dedicated his career to education reform, the design of high-performance organizations, and extensive comparative research on education and skill-creation systems from around the world.  David’s story of his move to Chatham to focus on leadership is a fascinating one.


Sherry Benjamins: Congratulations on your role as President, Chatham University! Tell us about your path to this leadership role.

David Finegold: I have always been involved in advising students and have been open to where my career might lead.  I took assignments that I was passionate about and now it seems everything I have done prior to this has prepared me for the leadership work at Chatham.  I have a blend of working for large, complex Universities, like USC and Rutgers with thousands of students along with being at small, innovative campus environments such as Claremont. There were also entrepreneurial challenges at American Honors when I worked to grow an academic business. What makes Chatham unique is that it blends the big and the small:  I can make a personal impact given our relatively small size – 2,200 students – where I can get to know each faculty member and student. Yet we have a far more exciting work and complexity than most institutions our size: with three campuses, online innovation as well as focused and recognized success in our wellness and sustainability programs. Chatham offers over 40 undergraduate majors and over 20 graduate programs in sustainability, the health & lab sciences, business & communication, and the arts & humanities.

SB:  When you imagine the future of education, where do you see value and affordability?

DF: There is no doubt that access and affordability is critical, especially as we see the costs of a degree going up. As a private college we are addressing the challenges in several ways. First, we are doing more with scholarships and fellowships. Secondly, we are innovating creative ways to serve our students by looking at on and off campus options, such as online, cooperative arrangements with business and study abroad in order to expand our capacity. We have more part-time students, and are also very transfer-friendly, seeing the 2+2 path as a great way for students to lower the overall cost of getting a degree. Roughly 25% of our undergraduates transfer from a mix of community colleges and four-year universities. 

As we look to the future, there is a significant population of those over 50 who remain engaged and want to continue working, though perhaps in an entirely new career.  They are looking to have social impact and continuing to learn throughout their lives; we are in the early stage of exploring how we might best meet their needs.  Also, there is more with dual enrollment as we collaborate with high schools in order to help their students get a leg up on studies and their career goals at the university level.  

SB: Chatham is known as an innovator in areas such as, women in leadership, entrepreneurs launching new business, cooperatives and sustainability – what are your students asking for? 

DF: Students are attracted to our campuses for these innovative programs. Our Center for Women Entrepreneurship’s Women’s Business Center, ranked #1 in the country, offers experienced business owners the opportunity to engage with and enhance the work of women entrepreneurs.  We support internships and diverse work experiences which brings high quality business connections to the “eco-system of talent” in our region.  Students want good careers so that they can join or build companies that are socially responsible. They want a quality of life that supports their values and we have multiple ways to offer this through 60 undergraduate and graduate programs and innovative ways to deliver content and experience.

SB: How is technology influencing your longer term plans?

DF: Technology allows us to deliver strong online degree programs.  Chatham’s College for Continuing Education offers one of the largest and most successful Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the US, serving working professionals across the country who wish to advance further in leadership roles. Students can also complete a range of other degrees with flexible and low-residency formats.  We also have business, psychology and nursing undergraduate online degrees, masters of creative and professional writing with a focused online production skill building capability and a doctorate of occupational therapy. 

We recognize the next wave of disruptive employment is at the intersection of AI, distributed learning and the internet.  One study suggests we are potentially going to see 2/3 of the US employment automated by 2030.  As one example, our University is already adapting to this new world by introducing a new interdisciplinary degree in “immersive media” or virtual reality.

SB: What is your advice to the new generation of talent? 

DF:  My advice to our students and the new generation of talent is that liberal arts continues to be very important.  Students want to go where they will learn the most and grow personally.  I do see a stressed generation across the system and at all abilities.  They are feeling anxiety, financial pressures and uncertainty.  They do have a social consciousness and want to make things better.   They are open to creative entrepreneurial options and have the platform to create global companies with the technology available.  They are not looking exclusively to larger corporations as a career choice.  It is ironic that the best education is returning to liberal arts for improving problem solving skills, using critical thinking, working in diverse teams, and learning to learn. These are high on the list of new literacies that matter. 


Learn more about Chatham on their website!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

May 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Kelly Hoey and the Future of Learning and Connecting in the New Economy

Where do we learn to network? I think it is a natural curiosity to understand others, however for many of us, it might be pretty scary too. We are seeing that building connections is a new leadership literacy.  Kelly Hoey has a unique take on why and how this works. After reading her book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in Hyper-connected World, I reached out to her on Linkedin to thank her and ask if we might connect in order to explore further. She graciously agreed and I am so glad she did!


Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your career path and how you developed the many professional hats your wear, which have included a lawyer, a social media influencer, a start-up advisor, an investor, and an author?

Kelly Hoey: Networking has enabled me to make some interesting career changes. I went to law school in ’91 and was working in a very suit-oriented world. I had the good fortune of working at prestigious law firms and there was decorum and an expectation around how you treated clients and how you held yourself in the world.  It was the way you interacted with people in your firm and profession. In the legal community, we refer to it as “practicing” law: you never reach the destination of expertise, but instead are a life-long learner.  That enabled me to go from lawyer to law firm management. Back then it was an uncommon change for lawyers to make.

Looking back, everything I’ve done has come from a foundation of successfully jumping into something new and working it out. I jumped into the deep end when I moved into the start-up world, and it goes back to that idea of what do you want to be known for?  What’s the reputation that you hold out to the world?  How do you interact with people?  A couple of women I respected had the idea for a start-up accelerator. They needed a third co-founder and when asking their network for anyone with a particular skillset, my name kept coming up. This is how opportunities happen.  Sometimes it means doing things that don’t make sense on paper.  Did it make sense for a lawyer with expertise in finance who had no experience in start-ups take on this new world?  I believe that it is not about what you know or who you know, but instead who knows what you know. That’s what can move one along their career.   

SB: Was it rare for a woman to be in investing at this time?  

KH: In late 2011, there were few investors committed to women led ventures.  Looking back, it was an overlooked and undervalued opportunity. Our idea was that “if you boys won’t invest in women, we will”.  It was a great thing to start and also a great thing to stop participating in when the time was right.  The realization though, came from the power of an entrepreneurial mindset.  I learned that even if you’re an employee, you should assume that mindset. Give yourself 1, 2 or 3 years to try something and ask yourself if it’s a long term venture and if not walk away.

SB: What did you learn from your start-up experience with Women Innovate, the NY accelerator?

KH: It was the best MBA learning experience I could have. It also affirmed my strengths as a business woman.  We can ask ourselves in our own careers: what am I really good at? What rocks my world?  Where’s the universe sending me a signal? For me, I realized that happens when I get handed big, bold ambitious projects with limited resources and somehow I make it happen. That was also the case in Law Firm management. So rather than thinking “outside of the box”, I like to get in the box and figure out a creative way through the problem. 

SB: In the forward to your book, Tom Peters says you have written about “revolution” not networking. What do you think he meant by that? 

KH: For Tom, its always been about the people. When you read the word “network” in a book title, you go to a certain place. Tom realized the book is about careers and ambitions and the decent human being in a digital age. It has everything and nothing to do with what we traditionally think about networking. It has to do with the importance of putting people first. Even though we are in an economic and industrial revolution with upheaval and uncertainty, the one thing that is more certain than ever is that our human relationships and people skills are more essential and valuable than ever before.

SB: How will building connections change in the future?

KH: We’re at an interesting inflection point because all generations are struggling with how to make meaningful connections. The more comfortable we get in being uncomfortable with how we make relationships is the first step to building strong, viable relationships and vibrant networks. The more we realize that these things can grow via a conference call, in person, or otherwise. It’s not one versus the other, it’s everything. The more we are genuinely, authentically ourselves, regardless of platform, the more we remember that it’s a real human being with a messy complicated life on the other end.  We are not just a user or a follower. To understand this is to become better human beings. 

SB: Talent forecasters say that “on demand” curated networks of people will replace the need to recruit. What’s your perspective on that?

KH: As long as you’ve got diversity, in the fullest sense of the word, the idea that people bring their whole network to their environment may solve some of the challenges in recruiting.  However, this rarely happens.   The notion that we’ll use these curated networks and also be aware of our blind spots in order to ensure diversity, could bring better problem solving, creativity, analytical thinking and more to our organizations. 

SB: What is your advice for the next generation of talent?

KH: I’m pausing for a second because don’t we say that every generation is going to be different and more difficult than the last? I’m thinking about Mr. Zuckerberg and congress. Tech companies were supposed to act differently, but when you think about it, he’s created a company that operates like the rest of them. You think about companies acting in extraordinary ways and they aren’t run by Millennials. It’s Patagonia or Ray Anderson of Interface Inc. When I think of revolutionary business leaders, it’s a bunch of older white guys and it’s kind of tragic. Why put pressure on a younger generation rather than look at it and say, we all have a responsibility to make this a success and strengthen how we interact and how we understand each other.

For the younger generation, I would say: It’s fine to have your way of doing things. We all have our preferences. Understand the environment you’re going into. Understand that you’re going to need to flex. You’re going to alter your choices. Know what your values are and what is most important to you so when you step into a workplace, you know which stuff you have to compromise on and which stuff you don’t. 


In closing, Kelly may be wired to connect the networking dots, but you can be too! I recommend reading her book and consider checking out her Creative Lives Program on June 6th. 

Don’t relegate networking to the bottom of your list.  If you want to pursue your dream career, networking must become a priority. It is about understanding others, how you add value to them and in return for yourself too.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter