I started in business in what some may consider as an unusual role – a workplace anthropologist. I was fortunate to encounter and be mentored early in my career by a woman with 20 years’ experience practicing anthropology and consulting for large companies. As an early-career anthropologist, I was inspired by how she applied the technical aspects of the field to real-world business problems. Throughout my career, I have experienced how valuable it is to have mentors. In particular, I have sought multiple mentors who have given me diverse perspectives and helped me develop the courage to take risks. I believe we all have personal power to create positive change, and it helps to have support from people you trust, whether you are challenging the status quo or working to affect a whole system.
Today, I am using methods from anthropology to help drive culture change and innovation at Pitney Bowes. I lead an innovation program that provides all employees with the opportunity to participate in identifying and shaping new ideas to drive organic growth. The program also provides a context where we enact new behaviors that transform our culture. In 2009, more than 650 ideas from the company’s online IdeaNet were committed to action as a result of employee contributions. These ideas come from across our global employee population, with colleagues in 23 countries participating.
My success as an innovator at Pitney Bowes is due in part to my early mentor as well as others along each step of my career. IdeaNet couldn’t have achieved success without the team thinking big and taking risks. Taking risks brings growth. I believe a good mentor acts as a guide in helping you to navigate a career path. A great mentor challenges you to be a courageous leader who can positively transform the organizations and communities of which you are a part.