Our SmartBrief on Leadership readers have diverse jobs and backgrounds. We thought it would be great if we could get to know some of our readers and learn more about their jobs, their leadership philosophy and what keeps them motivated.
Our inaugural Featured Leader is Charlene Harrison, the vice president of operations at CAQH:
SmartBrief on Leadership: What current trends are you watching?
Charlene Harrison: Of course it’s AI! While we’ve all heard of artificial intelligence, it feels as though we went to sleep and awoke in a world heightened by conversations around AI. It’s everywhere and the implications are sweeping. With impacts to the arts (writers, musicians and filmmakers), education and our world at large, it feels like we are on the precipice of major change. In my business, I have been working with AI and bot automation for some time, so I understand the impacts from an efficiency and productivity perspective differently. It has been a game changer, but it must be balanced.
SB on Leadership: What’s your go-to coffee or breakfast order?
Harrison: One of my favorites is the pan scramble at Founding Farmers. So delish!
SB on Leadership: What is one of your professional bucket list items?
Harrison: Continuing the work of building on my legacy. I’ve been with my current employer for close to 16 years and have some significant accomplishments under my belt. But what I want most is to continue developing and working with my amazing team … seeing them flourish is the ultimate cherry on the cake for me.
SB on Leadership: What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a leader?
Harrison: My favorite part of being a leader is the ability to impact change and to develop my team. For me, change is a positive and presents opportunities for growth. Change keep it fresh, and I love a challenge. Developing resources through mentorship and modeling positive leadership has long term impacts. It’s like planting seeds and watching them grow over time. Seeing that impact on people is truly rewarding. My least favorite part of being a leader is that you may be faced with making decisions that are life changing to others. We have all dealt with workplace reductions or having to break bad news to others. While as a leader you do what you must do, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you are faced with losing talent.
SB on Leadership: What keeps you motivated?
Harrison: My team and the people that I work to serve every single day. Due to my time tenure, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to build lasting relationships with our customers. I have seen children graduate with advanced degrees and are now using the systems that their parents have used. I have seen photos of graduations, babies, weddings, and sadly, losses. I am connected to their lives in a personal and professional way and that gives me a great sense of purpose in delivering excellence every day. Related to my team, I have a responsibility to assure that we are in lock step with the mission and values of our organization; a task that I don’t take lightly. My team is amazing, they are interested up and coming rising stars. I love that we get to pour into one another, that we are candid, and that we move in a synchronistical way when it comes to our performance. I am a better leader because of them and that encourages me to do my best for them and our organization. I love what I do, and it has been an absolute pleasure to grow as a leader with the support of my organization and team.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.