Spring 2019 Leadership Unplugged Part I — Where Leaders Find Inspiration

Successful business leaders look to many sources for their inspiration: historical figures, highly skilled athletes, research and case studies from management gurus, and, of course, the examples of mentors and fellow leaders from within their own and other industries. Worldwide ERC® President and CEO, Peggy Smith, SCRP, SGMS-T, sat down with nearly 30 talent mobility professionals at the 2019 Americas Mobility Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, for on-camera chats about various aspects of leadership – from personal journeys, to advice for the next generation, to current challenges and the skills needed to navigate them. You can view all of the videos on You Tube, and we’re also bringing you highlights of those conversations in a series of articles. This is the first of five, with a focus on inspiration.

For Heather Henry, Director of Talent Mobility with Netflix, Inc., an understanding of what leadership looks like took shape at a very early age.  “My mother was a formidable woman who was very focused. I first learned about movement and mobility from her – born in the West Indies in Jamaica, she left and came to England to make a new life for all of us.  She was my role model, because she taught me that you could do anything you wanted to do, and that I could be anything I wanted to be.”

Heather’s story and journey is a living example of what the talent mobility industry is all about. After leaving London to live in New York for a time, she now resides on the West Coast and has experienced both international and U.S. domestic moves, and all of the different cultural insights that go along with them. Now “on a personal quest to give back, mentor and support others in the ways that I received help as I moved through this arena,” she believes that being a member of the Worldwide ERC® board of directors gives her an excellent platform from which to do just that.  And if one of the core traits of a leader is understanding what it means to walk in different shoes, then Heather’s certainly cultivating her expertise – having moved with more than 200 pairs of her own!

Like Heather, Mark Morgan, Director of Business Development in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast Regions with Budd Van Lines, credits his early upbringing with shaping his career. “My dad was a minister, so integrity was an important quality throughout my life, and he really exuded that. I have two sons now, and we have always instilled in them to do the right thing when nobody is watching, in their personal and professional lives.”

That concept was echoed by several others, too, including  Keryn Mendes, GMS-T, Global HR Mobility Specialist at CSIRO, who believes that “leadership is all about being genuine in who you are and how you lead, and doing that consistently, not just in front of a camera or on a stage, but in the day-to-day…showing the way through sharing and giving.” 

“leadership is all about being genuine in who you are and how you lead, and doing that consistently, not just in front of a camera or on a stage, but in the day-to-day…showing the way through sharing and giving.”

In Peggy’s conversation with Vincent Hennequin, Active Business Advisor with ITX, she asked if he had a particular quote or philosophy that has inspired him. He too credits a blend of his personal experiences as an expatriate and global business traveler, enjoying many different cultures, and a positive spirit of embracing opportunity and taking some risks, which he sees embodied in ITX’s CEO, Christophe Malavallon. For Vincent, his own and the company’s inspiration can be summed up in the words of Mark Twain: “They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.”

Eric Tate, CRP, Aires’ Vice President, East Region, shared his unique story of leadership inspiration as a member of the same company for 25 years, in which he learned from the example of company president,  Jeff Wangler.  “He’s challenging, fair, but expects the best in you so you expect the best in yourself,” observes Eric, and “I’ve learned from his leadership to develop my own style.”  In their efforts to cultivate connectedness and a shared sense of success at the company, Eric credits a conscious effort to develop both personal and business relationships. “Our board has been together for my entire career. There are five of us, and we’ve always prided ourselves on our organic growth.  We have friendship and partnership.  We hold each other accountable, but there is a deeper level than just the business involved in our company, which makes it fun for me to go to work in the morning.”

Cultivating connectivity isn’t limited to just board-level associates, it’s woven throughout all levels of the organization, Eric adds, explaining that “every new hire comes in with two people assigned to them: a navigator, who helps them figure out their way in the company, and is there to answer their logistical questions, and a mentor, who stays with them throughout their career.”  Whether they come in with industry experience or not, he believes, “providing that navigator and mentor really helps them develop their career and become part of the foundation.”

As you’ll hear in Peggy’s conversation with Neha Baxi, GMS-T, Manager, HR Compliance with Esurance®, leadership inspiration came through a combination of organic mentorship and formal training programs, too. Initially reporting into the talent acquisition unit, Neha received help and guidance from its director to expand out into relocation and get her start on the mobility track. From there, she notes, “There’s an emerging leader program that I was nominated to be a part of, as well as a new manager program (that I participated in) when I started becoming a people leader myself.”  Both of these programs help associates identify mentors from the senior leadership team.

When Peggy asked her what advice she would offer to inspire the next generation of leaders, Neha believes:

“It’s really important in today’s day and age for everybody to get comfortable with data.  It’s important as part of the business cases that we make and the programs that we’re managing to back our decisions up with data. As things evolve, it’s going to have to be a skillset across the board.”

“It’s really important in today’s day and age for everybody to get comfortable with data. It’s important as part of the business cases that we make and the programs that we’re managing to back our decisions up with data. As things evolve, it’s going to have to be a skillset across the board.”

Related: Looking for some industry-specific ways to get more comfortable and build your skillset with data? Check out our “Exploring Data Analytics for Mobility” course.

Up Next—Leadership Unplugged Part II: Building Community Through a Culture of Philanthropy

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