Tag Archives: Workforce

Women In Leadership

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP.  This event was about the numbers.  The Twin Cities Business event reveled the 10th annual Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership…and the news was disheartening.  The Executive Summary states, “With few notable exceptions (the Census) underscores the challenges of maintaining forward movement in diversifying corporate leadership.”

First, for a look at the big picture, the report stated:

  • Across the country, 28 million women hold managerial or professional roles (ION, 2017) but only 24 women lead Fortune 500 companies, and only 22 percent of the nation’s largest 100 public companies have female directors.

Below are a few of the highlights from the Census which analyzed data from 72 Minnesota companies:

  • The Census reveals a challenging corporate landscape, with a net decrease in the number of women holding leadership roles.
  • Of the 37 new directors appointed, only six were women.
  • Women directors of color hold only 3.1 percent of the total board seats.
  • MN companies strive to attain a critical mass of women executive officers and directors.  In 2017, six MN companies attained this critical mass of 30% or more on both their boards and in their executive offices, to receive the designation of Special Distinction.
  • The Census pointed out some of the reasons, including that there are fewer companies in Minnesota so therefore, fewer leadership opportunities.

The moderated discussion included insights from four key panelists including Kweilin Ellingrud, McKinsey & Company; Andrew Humphrey, Fagre Baker Daniels; Cindy Kent, 3M; and Beth Wozniak, Pentair.  The highlights for me included:

  • Women that have responsibility for p&l, more often move into top leadership roles.
  • Women leaders often draw from their experience as competitive athletes.
  • There is a difference between mentored and sponsored.  Cindy Kent shared that many seek mentors but are under sponsored.
  • Be intentional – take on learn & grow initiatives but make your intentions known.
  • Create your own personal advisory board.
  • Choose your boss well.
  • In response to questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, Beth Wozniak stated, “You get what you tolerate.”  She went on to talk about high performance workplaces.

More on this topic can be found on the St. Catherine University website.

More photos of the event can be found in the gallery.



  • Shelly Elmore, Publisher, Twin Cities Business


  • ReBecca Koenig Roloff, President, St. Catherine University

2017 MN Census of Women in Corporate Leadership Highlights

  • Joann Bangs, Associate Provost, College for Women and Dean, School of Business & Professional Studies, St. Catherine University

2017 Honor Roll Companies

  • Allete, Inc.
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Apogee Enterprises, Inc.
  • Best Buy Co., Inc.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.
  • Deluxe Corp.
  • Electromed, Inc.
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Homel Foods Corp.
  • Insignia Systems, Inc.
  • Medtronic Plc
  • New Ulm Telecom Inc.
  • Patterson Cos., Inc.
  • Sleep Number Corp.
  • SuperValu, Inc.
  • Target Corp.
  • Tennant Co.
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • UnitedHealth Group

Panel Discussion

  • Kweilin Ellingrun, Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Andrew Humphrey, Partner, Chair Emeritus, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
  • Cindy Kent, President & GM, 3M Infection Prevention Division
  • Beth Wozniak, SVP & President, Electrical, Pentair (now CEO of nVent)

Closing Remarks



Managing Through The Talent Crunch

MANAGING THROUGH THE TALENT CRUNCH.  This was the theme of Greater MSP’s Investor Meeting held at the Hilton Minneapolis.  Richard David, CEO of U.S. Bank kicked off the event by talking about the need to be bolder in order to compete.  He also introduced Greater MSP’s version 2.0 initiatives to create a remarkable future for the region.

Key initiatives focused on developing strategies to both attract and retain talent and included key partnerships with the following organizations: Greater Metropolitan Workforce Council, Minnesota Food & Agriculture Leadership Initiative and Forge North.  Performance measurements included building the network, supporting employers, generating leads and raising visibility.

People were identified as a critical key asset.  Awareness of the talent and Minnesota advantages was noted as a concern.  Attraction and retention were highlighted as key goals.  The panel included key HR leaders from U.S. Bank, Medtronic and Salo.  They emphasized the need to grow existing talent by reinvesting in them and developing access to opportunities.

A couple of areas I’d like to see expounded on in future meetings include regional strategies related to global competition, cluster development and strengthening middle market opportunities.


More photos of the event are in the Gallery.

Workforces That Can Integrate Insights


The newly hired CEO of a growing company recently shared that one of her key challenges is finding leadership talent.  She is specifically looking for executives that have the skill to use data and analytics to lead them into new areas. In getting to know her executive team, she asked a senior leader how he used data to report productivity and business metrics, collaborate with colleagues, support customers and engage the right partners.  This executive showed the CEO a PowerPoint that was periodically used to communicate with the executive board; however, it lacked key analytics and insights.  Further requests for a presentation utilizing standard integrated data have been unsuccessful.  Delivering this type of reporting has been a real struggle for this executive.  The CEO is concerned and believes the lack of this capability will impact the organization’s ability to be agile and make decisions.

What are the specific skills and competencies needed to lead in a data-driven culture?

How can companies find a workforce with this talent?

A recent Gallop article stated that “Companies that seek to generate meaningful business insights need to shift….to a culture capable of integrating insights into day-to-day business process and decision-making.” The article’s main focus is on the importance of ascertaining the right data that will inform business decisions and how it will be analyzed. But it also alludes to the enormous challenge companies are facing finding this critical workforce.

A key challenge is identifying the right talent which can create and work effectively in this culture. It is worth noting that this culture is transparent at its core; a freeing aspect compared to many closed organizations.  And the benefits can be astounding for both individuals and the company.  Individuals are empowered by improved access to information and an open, collaborative, and continuous-learning environment.  Companies become more focused as decisions are fact-based and priorities are better defined.

Areas to consider when searching for this critical workforce include:

  • Powerful connections.  Utilizing a revised definition of talent, companies can find currently underutilized, unidentified, hidden and combined members of the workforce.
    • Underutilized. Re-evaluate an existing workforce in new ways to find employees ready and willing to move into roles that advance the company’s ability to realize its competitive advantage.
    • Unidentified.  In addition, defining talent opens up the opportunity for leadership to tap into the connections they make at professional organizations, a non-profit fundraiser or a soccer game.  Finding talent becomes easier when the definition is clear.
    • Hidden.  This will also enable connections to the highly-skilled but hidden workforce of the experienced worker, who may or may not be currently traditionally employed, but has developed a wealth of leadership abilities throughout their career.  Their error is in not creating and communicating a robust personal brand and promoting their own abilities.  It is, however, a bigger mistake for companies not to know how to better identify it.
    • Combined.  Another commonly hidden resource is teams.  Often the answer is not in selecting one right new resource but in selecting several.  There is power in combining people’s strengths.
  • The definition of talent.  How a company defines talent is critical to its success. Does your company still evaluate leadership candidates based on achievements in a non-managerial role or tenure? By expanding the definition beyond experience and skills to include how people think, feel, and behave companies can find leaders with the capabilities needed to build teams, quickly assess data, think holistically and tell a great story.
  •  Values.  Companies need to  embrace a open and collaborative culture.  The goal being to attract and retain talent that have the ability to be these new types of leaders.  This environment brings new continuous knowledge and expertise to the leadership team.  This is essential in enabling the company to move into new markets, create new business models and expand partnerships.  The possibilities are endless as the ability for the company to invigorate its employees, engage with its business ecosystem and deliver to its customer’s increases. On the flip side, those that struggle to create this culture may also struggle to survive.
  • Partners.  Engaging partners in new ways can also open up possibilities.  I was recently meeting with a staffing agency that provides skilled talent to companies and also helps job seekers find rewarding positions where they can thrive.  As we spoke about the workforce trends and challenges they and/or their clients are seeing, four reinforcing themes emerged:
    • New jobs are surfacing that companies need filled to remain competitive.
    • The talent required is forward-thinking and focused on skills that help evaluate, consolidate, and communicate complicated information so the company can adapt and lead in competitive environments.
    • Staffing company models are often based on the efficiency of compartmentalizing talent based on past experience.
    • There are many leadership and advisory roles that are needed but not yet defined.

As the workforce needs of companies continue to expand and become more urgent, staffing agencies will need to meet this need.  To do this, they will need to be proactive and expertly extract and communicate job seeker’s essential talents to companies.

A company’s ability to compete will be based on its ability, or inability, to create a culture that embraces new types of leaders.  This highly sought after talent will bring the knowledge and expertise needed to enable data-driven decisions and in turn move companies into new spaces. Where will you find that talent? Will that talent thrive in your company’s culture?  How will your partners help you? Creating competitive advantage is time sensitive.  Today is a good day to get started.