New CEO Breathes New Life and Innovation into Public-Sector Organization

Business woman looking over the city

By Molly Norton

Acumen was retained to locate the next CEO for a leading-edge, respected, highly regulated Oregon-based quasi-governmental institution that has existed since the late ’70s. The organization was primed for new, visionary leadership to take them to the next stage of their evolution.

The new CEO was hired following a national search and intense vetting process with multiple interviews conducted at all levels of the organization as well as the parent organization. It was apparent that the organization needed a strong leader who could coalesce the organization around a fresh mission and vision as they had still been operating under a mission statement that had been developed in the 1970s. They also had a strong desire to hire a diverse candidate with a solid understanding of DEI frameworks who could help structure the organization using these tenants.

The installed CEO was able to quickly, masterfully leverage effective change management to implement such initiatives as recalibration of pay equity, the creation of growth paths for high potential leaders in the firm, sharing of best practices between departments to help create more collaboration and begin the work of effectively “de-siloing” an organization with multiple divisions and strong personalities. The CEO also immediately began work on creating an “open door” culture which led to more psychological safety for staff by letting them know that it was ok to bring issues to senior staff, including the CEO, with the expectation such issues would be addressed and worked through together.”

She leveraged her strong outreach and external/internal relationship skills in order to heal old wounds and trauma that the organization had faced and set the organization and its parent on a track for better collaboration and understanding.

She is also co-architecting the new Covid response to prepare for a potential new wave of closures and an anticipated hybrid work-from-home policy once office reopening is a viable option. To support the new hybrid work model, the CEO has ensured all employees will have a work-supplied laptop or home-based desktop with hardware and software that will allow them to work from anywhere safely and effectively with a reduced threat of cyber-attacks.

In addition to all of the initiatives mentioned, she is now working to increase existing and identify new potential revenue streams for the organization which is exciting and breathing new life into what’s been a more traditional firm with an established charter. She’s effectively leveraged her experience working at the intersection of law and early-stage, entrepreneurial high tech and her compassionate, influencer personality to move the organization forward in an innovative, exciting way. She will also be leveraging coaches and culture leaders to help each valued team member do the work to reach their personal goals and assist with developing new mission, vision, and values setting for the organization. Additionally, she is working with a team to heighten the profile of the organization and reinforce the organization’s value to its stakeholders through new marketing initiatives.

When asked what she liked best about working with Acumen, she stated “This is the first time I’ve worked with an Executive Search Firm and I was very impressed by the high level of professionalism and communication infused in the process. Molly and Suzanne also provided ideas, coaching, and advocacy to help me present my unique value proposition every step of the way and address any gaps that were surfaced throughout the process. They also are well-versed in equity frameworks beyond just hiring for diversity. I would be happy to recommend them to any organization seeking their next executive / CEO.” ~ Megan L. CEO, Quasi-Government/Public Sector