With November now upon us, we will soon be gathering with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving—a time to enjoy a delicious meal, watch copious amounts of football, and give thanks for all that we have today.
It is also a time to tip our hats to the early pioneers of our county who endured—and eventually overcame—the hardships of being early settlers in an unfamiliar land. Not only did these pioneers celebrate an exceptionally good harvest with what would be the first of many Thanksgivings, but they were also the first to embark upon and lay the foundation for what would one day become the United States of America.
Whether we’re talking about trailblazers in a new land or within an existing organization, being the first one to embark upon anything new can be intimidating and comes with a myriad of challenges to overcome. In a professional setting, the needs of a company are constantly evolving and new roles are developed to better meet these needs. As such, it is with exceptionally bold and talented professionals that these new roles should be filled.
In this issue of Forefront, we talk with several pioneers in their own rights—thought leaders who are currently the “firsts” of their kind within their organizations. For instance, Emma Carrasco, National Public Radio (NPR)’s first-ever Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) discusses the challenges she faces building a marketing approach almost from scratch within the unique environment of public service journalism.
Blake Holman is another professional pioneer, serving as Senior Vice President and the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Ryan, LLC. As the organization’s first CIO, Holman’s first orders of business were creating stability and improving efficiency within the firm’s quickly growing IT department.
Corinne Kevorkian, the first in-house counsel for Whitsons Culinary Group, shares with Forefront how she laid the foundation for the organization’s legal issues, including establishing policies and procedures for reviewing legal matters, creating contract templates, and addressing a myriad of problems as they arose.
We also spoke with Elizabeth A. Bryant, Vice President and creator of SWA University for Southwest Airlines. Bryant discusses how she developed the innovative, centralized training function for the airline and how she continues to develop and evolve learning opportunities for employees.
Sure, being the first of your kind can be challenging, but these leaders would all agree that the results of their efforts have been noticeably positive changes within their organizations—changes that ultimately improve efficiencies and make for a better end product.
It’s a lot like that first Thanksgiving meal our early settlers shared.