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Lynn Palko

Lynn Palko

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hello! I am Lynn Palko, owner and Managing Director of Palko Management Consulting. As the tag line on my website reads, "As Top Tier Consultants, we help businesses build strong organizations and well defined processes for a path forward to growth and productivity." I've been in business a little over a year now and am now really looking to build my brand marketing and start communicating more on the expertise that I bring to small / medium sized businesses (or enterprise businesses going through organizational changes). I'm excited for the opportunity to share what I've learned in my experience as a leader and manager of global operations, with the importance for companies to focus on building a solid foundation both for their growth and for a positive workforce/ environment, from establishing well defined roles, processes, and procedures to clearly communicated employee policies.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I just recently became a member of Ellevate and attended my first event, where the other women were so warm, welcoming and engaging. We shared great conversation on important topics for women today, from #momlife to how to improve employee engagement in the workplace. I made several connections from that event and even had a great lunch meeting with another fellow member since then. I think the quality of professional women joining Ellevate is such a great benefit, it's so valuable to share ideas and build community with other women focused on similar goals and interests. I'm a member because I hope to build strong community and connections here that not only help build my network but my professional growth and personal development as well.

How would you define your professional mission?

My passion lately, that actually led me to start my consulting business, is around employee engagement, and specifically the need for companies to invest in new hire employee onboarding. We're starting to see a new "Industrial Revolution" of sorts, of more Gen Z and Millenials leaving the 'corporate workforce' and choosing entrepreneurship / freelancing, and we need to start asking why? The feedback and research is showing one cause is lack of engagement or investment in their currently employer's mission, and either not understanding or not seeing a company vision that aligns with their own personal and professional goals. When we look at companies' perspective on new hire employee 'onboarding' many times its a one day class about IT security, company policies, HR benefits, their computer ID and desktop login access. My mission is to work with companies to change this perspective and put greater focus and importance on building an investment into every new employee that walks through the door, and treat each person as if they could be running the company one day. I spent more than two decades setting up operations from help desks in India to shared service centers in Budapest and have seen new hire training done well, resulting in positive employee morale. When changes like this happen even in existing organizations, the increased employee engagement leads to higher retention and increased performance overall.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

I think being an entrepreneur takes resiliency and tenacity. You can't give up 'when the going gets tough', you have to dig in even deeper and not be afraid to fail, or to not know something. I've learned, if you don't know something, Google it. There isn't always someone around to ask, as there is when working in corporate, so you have to sometimes get in the trenches, roll up your sleeves and figure it out. My new favorite hashtag is #dothework... because truly, you sometimes have to do the research, listen, attend the classes or webinars, and educate yourself in new areas in order to continue to build your business and grow both professionally and personally.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I was leading the first global help desk migration for EDS, and at the same time, we were also building a new facility in Mumbai, India where the help desk would reside. This was publicized not only across our organization and all of EDS, it was in local papers in Mumbai and local city officials were planning to be at the opening of the building and to witness the first 'LIVE' help desk call to come through from the U.S. As the project manager, I had spent more than 6 weeks there on site, working to get new employees hired and trained, alongside the workers laying carpets, wiring electricity and setting up phones. The night before our big 'GO LIVE' we discovered a major issue with the knowledgebase system the agents were to use to take calls-- it wasn't ready. Myself and another leader there in India from the U.S., stayed up all night, on calls with U.S. leaders to get the system fixed and ready to take our first call. With only a matter of hours to spare (and no sleep) we fixed the issue and were able to have the Mumbai agent successfully accept the first international call! The desk went on to support over 100K end users globally across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Needless to say, I took a 'long' nap after that phone call was done!

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

I love a great turnaround story, an underdog, come up from nothing or turn a bad thing into good. So, while in Autodesk Consulting, when my sales team told me, "We have a doozy of a project for you, but you can handle it." I was all proud and excited. Until the project kick off. It went south quick, to say the client was unhappy was an understatement. So, I strapped on my #youcandoit boots and got to work...Set up a couple One on One's with the client, and told him, "If we come to you, and spend two days to rework this project to get it right, can we start over?" That's what we did. A week long mobilisation meeting on-site, reconstruct the project, change management, rework the schedule to expedite, and working together, the team amazingly created a solution for the customer that astounded them. We delivered on schedule too. At the end, the client was our biggest fan, one of my most favorite clients to-date, and in his satisfaction survey, he called me "A Legend". I still love a good turnaround story.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I spent more than two decades in "Corporate America", where I led global programs for EDS/ HP and was a global consulting project manager for Autodesk. I enjoyed the experiences, the opportunities I was afforded and the different people I worked with, from across the world. I was lucky to have opportunities to travel and spend time in India, Budapest, Costa Rica, Switzerland, London, and Philippines, plus some others. In my travels, I was working with global programs to set up operations in these countries, and I learned so much about working in and among different cultures. I was able to be a part of some amazing teams, building up and investing in new employees as we stood up these centers. I saw new hire employee development done well, and the results it provided to our clients and organizations. So, a year ago when I started seeing the silicon valley tech industry short cutting onboarding and reducing it to a 'one day experience' and then experiencing overwhelming attrition, I started feeling a passion and drive to build my business around this. I left "Corporate" just over a year ago, to start my consulting business providing organizational development to businesses, to build well defined processes for growth and productivity.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love working with clients and helping them to establish a plan, for what they envision their company to look like. It's great to build with them, a roadmap where they can see their organization built out with roles developed, processes defined, and tools implemented to help them grow their staff, meet their business goals and improve productivity.

What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?

I would like to help companies bring back the employee engagement, and start investing in people again. I feel like in the last 5+ years companies started buying foosball tables, cappuccino machines, "Zen rooms" and ping pong tables and thinking that was 'investing' in their employees. Engagement is suffering and the stats are starting to show, with the trend of millenials and Gen Z not staying. They want something 'better', they won't settle. So, I want to help by working with the small to medium sized companies, build strong onboarding programs, and organizational development initiatives. These are places where they have flexibility to do things differently and change the narrative on employee engagement.

Who are your role models?

My grandmother is my role model. She was an amazing woman. Widowed in her 50's with a 14 year old son to raise, she had to learn to drive, get a job and support herself and her son. She worked in the camera and luggage departments at Crowley's department store for 25 years until she retired. She never complained, and she made everyone around her feel welcome with her southern cooking, and warm hospitality. She lived independently until the day she died. She's still an inspiration to me. I named my daughter after her, Lillian, so now she has a strong name and heritage to follow.

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