Tell us a little bit about your career history and the work you are doing at Perficient today.
My career history has been a journey with a broad range of experiences that have all shaped who I am and the passions I bring to my work. I started my career as a clinician, primarily an oncology nurse in numerous healthcare settings; from there I found my way to healthcare operations and ultimately leading rapid growth healthcare companies. Early in my nursing career I loved every minute of my work though I was always fascinated and curious about business and business management. Even while attending undergraduate studies at University of Pennsylvania I was intrigued by what my friends were studying in the Wharton School of Business. I always knew that in some way, shape or form in my career, I would figure out how to bridge my clinical expertise with the business side. After several years in clinical work, I had an opportunity to step into an operations role in healthcare and the journey continued. I learned a ton about growing a business, P&L management, mergers and acquisitions, people leadership, and just kept adding to my list of experiences in both public and private companies, as well a few years leading a nonprofit organization. Another turning point in my career was while leading operations for a healthcare staffing company, I gravitated to talent acquisition in very challenging healthcare recruitment environments. From there I saw a path to tying my experiences together by stepping into the world of human resources (HR).
I found it so instrumental to have the operational background as a foundation to support talent acquisition and later, human resources overall. As I was trying to find people to fill roles, I understood not only the roles but the business imperative. Today I still believe strongly that understanding the business is a key to success for anyone in human resources. At that time, I started learning more and more about human resources and it became my calling to step into leadership roles in the various functional areas of HR. As I embarked on my career journey, I didn’t anticipate a career in HR but it all makes sense as I weave it together and I’m exactly where I belong.
I’ve been in Saint Louis for 16 years. I’m originally from Boston. I moved to St Louis to lead talent acquisition for a healthcare company, RehabCare Group. It was there that I started to take on greater HR responsibility, and ultimately helped the organization through a sale and merged the HR team with that of the acquiring company. Staying in St Louis, I then continued my HR journey at Express Scripts and BJC HealthCare in various leadership roles.
I’ve just celebrated my 3rd anniversary with Perficient! The opportunity to join this growth organization and bring my experience and passion made perfect sense. At Perficient, we are a global digital consultancy. We make a difference by transforming how the world’s biggest brands connect with customers and grow their business. I started during the pandemic when every company was trying to figure out how to connect with customers in a different way and our business just continues to grow both organically and by acquisitions. I’ve had the opportunity to not only lead our people team through the growth but amplify our focus as a company on our most competitive advantage: our people around the globe. When I joined we had 4000 employees and we are now at greater than 7500. It’s been a great combination of work and fun, and our growth continues!
When I started at Perficient, I asked very important questions: Why do people join our company? Why do they stay? What’s our promise to our people? Our promise is to challenge, champion, and celebrate our people, and we’ve been tirelessly focused to not only promote but deliver on that promise. Every time I talk to anyone of our leaders I ask, “what have you done lately to challenge, champion and celebrate your people?” Its really become a mantra for us and a driving force for our organization.
I’ve had the great pleasure of guiding our people (HR) team through identifying our vision and how we deliver value. Quite simply, we enable our people to do their best work. It’s a very simple sentence, but there’s a lot to unpack. Every time we think about a new initiative, we always go back to this vision. When you think about enabling your people to do their best work, it’s not just about the job. It’s about the person. How do people really bring their best selves to work? It’s been an impactful vision for us and has inspired so many initiatives and accomplishments to help our people be their best.
This year we have a theme across the company of making a difference. Our people have tremendous impact in our organization, with each other, for our clients, and in our communities. We challenge our people to take a few minutes each day and think How am I going to make a difference today? It could be answering a question for a colleague who needs help, solving a client issue, participating in an employee resource group discussion, etc. Making a difference is something each one of us does every day.
Tell us how you are focusing on well-being at work.
We focus a lot on ensuring that our leaders are having conversations with their team members. It’s not just about your job or performance, but also how are you and what’s important to you. We have also focused on providing resources that people need in areas like mental health, financial, or physical well-being for example. We have initiated several different programs under a program called LiveWell @ Perficient with opportunities like weekly virtual yoga classes and other robust resources for our people. We promote our employee assistance program – its one of the most underutilized benefits in any organization and we want to help our people benefit from and appreciate the value. We also promote employee resource groups globally. We’ve been growing those groups and we continue to think about ways to bring our people together to share common interests and goals outside of their project teams and across the global organization.
I recently read an article that said the four habits of happy people are movement, connection, gratitude and spending time with a pet.
I like that a lot and I think that intersects well with our LiveWell @ Perficient programming. We spend time on connection and on gratitude at Perficient. Connecting across countries and across cultures is critically important for us and has been an area of focus to build global depth. It’s not just being able to put global teams on our projects and help our clients with talent from around the world, but global depth is also about helping our people work better together. We want them to understand and learn about all the different cultures that we work with because ultimately it helps them work better. We create those connections many times through our employee resource groups and special interest groups.
Gratitude is also an area of focus, and we placed gratitude front and center when we rolled out a new intranet a couple of years ago. It’s a space for shout outs where any colleague around the world can shout out a thank you to another colleague around the world. It’s continually scrolling all day with messages like:
Thank you to this person who helped me figure out XYZ
Thank you to this person who covered for me last week
Thank you to this person who was just there when I needed someone to talk to
Whatever it is, it’s fun to read and every time our employees open their home page they see these messages of appreciation and celebration.
Alright, so now let’s talk about pets!
Yes, I love talking about pets! I have always been a dog lover. I grew up with dogs and I can’t even remember much time in my life without a pet. I would bring my dog to meet you right now but he’s at St. Louis Children’s Hospital doing his job. He’s a certified TOUCH dog, also known as therapy dog. His name is Wally and he’s a black Labrador/Weimaraner blend. He’s a very sweet dog. We rescued him when he was about 9 1/2 months old and we saw quickly that this is one smart dog! He took to training well and we learned from a friend about a therapy dog program through Duo Dogs to explore for Wally.
Meet Duo Dogs
Duo Dogs is a national nonprofit organization that trains and connects dogs with people to cultivate positive change in individuals, families, and communities. Accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Duo Dogs opens the doors to independence by providing Assistance Dogs to individuals with physical challenges, Facility Dogs to those in need of emotional assurance, and Touch Dogs that bring encouragement to people facing health issues or other challenges, reading assistance to area students, and educational programming to schools and businesses. In addition, Duo provides basic, intermediate, and advanced obedience classes to the public.
Duo Dogs started as an organization to train assistance dogs, also known as service dogs. These assistance dogs are matched with clients to help with mobility challenges and hearing challenges, for example. Duo also places facility dogs who are trained to be present in courtrooms, schools, hospitals. Wally is part of another program that Duo Dogs offers called TOUCH – Therapy Of Unique Canine Healers. These TOUCH therapy dogs visit patients in acute care hospitals, schools, nursing homes, hospice care, and more.
Wally is also on the Duo Dogs crisis response team. This team helps during acute needs. For example, with the unfortunate recent school shooting in St. Louis the crisis response team went on site to provide comfort to the students and staff.
It’s heartwarming to watch Wally at work. His main job is at St. Louis Children’s Hospital but he does many other events and he’s on the crisis response team. When I come home and see Wally, he makes my day. But when I watch Wally bring that joy to others, it is truly unbelievable. It’s just amazing to witness the healing power of dogs. Dogs have incredible healing power and that extraordinary bond between humans and dogs is what Duo Dogs is all about.
I’ve been on the board of directors at Duo Dogs for about four years and it’s been wonderful to learn more about the incredible impact they have in our community. There’s just so many opportunities to bring dogs and humans together in a meaningful way. It’s also been exciting to watch the growth of Duo from the Assistance Dogs, Facility Dogs, dogs that help with PTSD, and other needs that veterans have.
I always tell people it’s OK if you don’t have a pet but go find a dog to make your make your day brighter because it makes such a difference!
How can others experience and support Duo Dogs?
Schedule a visit
Any organization can inquire with Duo Dogs to arrange a TOUCH team to visit their workplace. Some organizations plan employee appreciation events with dog cuddling days or even call in the TOUCH team during a particularly stressful time of year. Now during mental health month there are so many TOUCH visits happening in organizations that want to bring the dogs in. It’s such a neat opportunity to visit with the dogs in the middle of your workday. I highly recommend this experience.
Duo Dogs also holds graduations on site to celebrate assistance dogs that have successfully matched and trained with their client. There is never a dry eye in the room because these are such amazing stories!
The Duo Dogs facility is quite impressive. Schedule a tour if you’re interested in learning more!
There are so many ways to volunteer with Duo. Duo has more than 700 volunteers and a variety of opportunities that you can explore on the website. Teams can volunteer together. You can volunteer one time or for a lifetime. The options are endless!
Funding is a great way to support Duo and the work that they do. Clients that need an assistance dog are matched with no fee. It’s through the financial support of the community at large that Duo Dogs can breed, raise, train, and match assistance dogs and run other programs.
There are also many events to join that combine fun with involvement and learning about the organization. Check out the website to learn more about upcoming events.
You can learn more about ways to donate here.
Please take the opportunity to learn more about the services offered by this amazing organization.