We’re in New York, meeting Janice Reals Ellig, named by Business Week as one of ‘The World’s Most Influential Headhunters’. We’re talking with Janice about the necessity of change, in order to stay relevant.
Janice, how do you stay relevant in the digital world and be innovative?
The speed of change in business is increasing exponentially. Now more than ever, it is critical to stay on top of those changes to remain relevant in order to be an effective advisor to clients. You have to be a catalyst of – and embrace – change as companies transform their operations, structures, and go-to-market strategies. Look at the companies that were on the F500 List in 1955; today only 60, or 12% of those companies are still on that list. Disruption is all around us and in 5, 10, 15 years, which companies will be on that list? I think about this new reality and recognize the need in the search industry to disrupt – or be disrupted – for both our future and that of our clients’. We need to raise the tough questions with clients and think about where their organizations will be in 5 years, much less 15 years.
As an annual sponsor of the CDO Summit, designed and developed by David Mathison, Chadick Ellig has become deeply connected to the social media world. A sponsor since its inception four years ago – it’s now a global conference – it keeps us connected to Chief Digital and Data Officers, the change drivers. We “know” these social media frontrunners.
Being on the Edison Innovation Foundation also allows me to interact with some phenomenal entrepreneurs, be part of innovative thinking and put those ideas into play in my personal life, my business and on my nonprofit boards. In fact, this board of dynamic, cutting-edge business leaders has completely changed the way I think about innovation. It is another way I remain relevant in the executive search world, to offer new solutions to clients.
You are involved with the next generation too, right?
Yes. I love being around the younger generation. It keeps my thinking and skills technologically aligned as well as challenged! They are the changemakers: the Millennials and Gen Z. They are digitally savvy, connected to today’s societal issues, they are the future. I serve on the board of the University of Iowa Foundation and as part of my philanthropy, I have supported an annual Master’s level scholarship in my sister’s name at the College of Public Health. Since 1999, 17 women have been recipients of this award and I see the impact they are making in the field of public health. Being connected to these 17 extraordinary leaders, aged 21 to 38, energizes me personally and professionally. I learn from their innovative approaches in developing new solutions for historically challenging health care issues.
What about society?
To give back is a privilege – and a responsibility. I feel fortunate to be able to contribute to and serve on nonprofit boards; it is an honor. It puts me in the conversation to better understand what’s happening in society and be a part of the change. For example, I chaired the board of the YMCA of Greater New York and am now on the board of the National YMCA, which promotes positive values through programs that build spirit, mind and body – extending a helping hand to those in need, but not a handout. We serve over 20 million people in the U.S., of which 10 million are our youth; many are at risk. I have been a part of the YMCA for over 12 years and have seen great progress made in communities because the ‘Y’ was there!
Being global is not an option – it is a requirement. Beyond conducting searches for talent globally, I remain relevant by traveling the world, meeting people everywhere I go, and learning about different cultures. I have visited over 100 countries, including many in Africa, the Middle and Far East, and culturally unique societies such as Easter Island and Papa New Guinea (twice) – with a lot of masks and shields to show for it! I truly appreciate the need to become educated about some of the most third world developing countries and their customs. Senegal is an example, where FGC has only recently been outlawed by the ‘male’ Chiefs; influenced by some very savvy women!
While I write about and am deeply focused on accelerating the pace of change for women on boards in the U.S., women’s rights in these developing countries raises concerns for women to extreme heights. Here, women are at a significant disadvantage. I believe it is critical to provide micro-financing: give a loan to a woman and her children are educated, and communities become more stable and flourish. Empowered women make the world a safer place for all of us.
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