Category

Get to Know our Consultants

Getting to Know our Consultants: Kiran Malancharuvil

By Get to Know our Consultants

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What unique career and personal interests do you bring to Open-i Advisors? 

My favorite projects are always the ones where I believe in the outcome.  One of the primary focuses of my career has been to contribute to the positive experience of businesses and consumers on the internet.  Trust & Safety initiatives are always so incredibly satisfying because there are so many benefits, and they bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to work toward achieving a free, open and safe Internet.  

I also really enjoy projects where I can empower clients, employees and customers to learn more about the “why” behind the “what”.  For example, I worked on a years-long project to educate internet consumers on the dangers of counterfeit goods, and was able to leverage the resources of some top internet-facing brands, industry groups and platforms to help spread the message. It was so satisfying to know that we contributed to keeping people safe, and helped stop the flow of money to terrorist organizations, child traffickers and other nefarious groups who we know benefit from the sale of seemingly harmless counterfeit goods online.  

In my personal life, I have such a weird mix of interests and achievements.  I am a classically trained opera singer, I can bake a pie from scratch, I have run races, I was a tap dancer.  The thing I’m most proud of is being a solo parent to my five-year-old daughter Lily, who is the most amazing person and my greatest teacher.  

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

“Be yourself.”  It took me an embarrassingly long time to learn how to be myself, and when I did, I flourished in my career and in my life overall.  I think women in particular get a lot of “advice” from people when they are young and coming up in their career, and while it’s mostly given in a helpful well-meaning spirit, I found that I was twisting myself into knots to follow that advice and present myself and my ideas in a way that didn’t always feel authentic or genuine.  I eventually learned that educating myself fully on an issue and following my intuition gave me the confidence and credibility I needed to establish myself as a unique and valuable voice in the industry.  

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

My superpower is surrounding myself with all the smartest, coolest people, and being a sponge for everything they are willing to teach me!  I love making new friends and professional contacts. There is so much to learn from the different experiences of people I come across in my work and travels.  Connecting clients with my network to help them achieve their goals and expand their own perspective and understanding of a particular topic is my favorite way to use my “superpower”. 

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

The impact of diversity on the working experience.  I have been so inspired by organizations that are leading the way on understanding how gender, race, geography and socioeconomic factors affect how employees excel and advance in the workplace.  Measuring this can help organizations ensure a diverse workforce and develop a flexible environment to accommodate the unique needs of different groups. I think that this is the single most important step to achieving equality and ensuring that employees can individually achieve balance, wellness and happiness. 

What do you love doing in your spare time?

My favorite things are reading, playing with my daughter, and cooking for family and friends.  I cherish the memories of big dinners with people I love. My mom and grandma taught me how to cook and bake.  Putting a meal on the table fills me with nostalgia and a sense of history, belonging and community. My happy place is stirring a pot of something with one hand and reading a paperback novel with the other. 

Get to Know our Consultants: Bree Dodd

By Get to Know our Consultants
Consultant Q&A

Commitment to personal and professional growth and makes for a well-balanced project manager

Bree Dodd brings extensive experience and expertise in the field of technical and operational project management for many notable organizations across multiple industries. When not guiding projects towards successful completion, Bree teaches yoga in Richmond, VA, and dotes on her Bernese Mountain Dog.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Bree Dodd brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Bree Dodd: My greatest highlight to date was my jump into entrepreneurship. Over a year ago I moved to Richmond, Virginia and promptly opened a yoga studio. Experiencing the different roles of being an entrepreneur and owner in the yoga industry was thrilling (and equally as terrifying!). I recently decided to close the studio and shift the yoga concept/brand, however, the experience of owning a brick and mortar business was invaluable for my personal and professional growth. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to build an inclusive and kind community; a community that has outlasted the physical studio space.

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

BD: “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not making decisions.” I think a shared human experience is fear of failure, and that fear becoming a barrier to making decisions and taking risks. This is something I have struggled with in the past, but with the help of mentors + personal experience, it is just that, a thing of the past. Being willing to make mistakes is what will elevate your work and your life.

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

BD: I always joke with people that my job as a project manager is herding cats, but what that really means is I have a knack for balancing the emotions and needs of a diverse team.  

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

BD: Wellness! Most American adults spend half or more of their waking hours working. Where we work, how long we work, the conditions of our work and who we work with all impact our health. A wellness-focused culture makes a difference in improving productivity, eliminating burnout and decreasing turnover. 

What do you love doing in your spare time?

BD: I teach yoga and love being active myself. Whether it’s a spin class, CrossFit, or hiking, I try to get a good sweat in once a day. I also have a Bernese Mountain Dog that I’m a little (ok, a lot) obsessed with. I spend a decent amount of time with her making sure she gets plenty of screen time on Instagram stories.

Get to Know our Consultants: Nicole Howley

By Get to Know our Consultants
Consultant Q&A

Turning Data Into Fresh Insights

You might know Nicole Howley as our resident data and policy nerd who loves to make data accessible for decision makers to find new connections and insights.

Nicole has built Business Intelligence dashboards for organizations ranging from homeless service providers to rock climbing companies to ecommerce retailers. She also has extensive expertise in qualitative and quantitative research practices that she has put to use measuring the impact of business decisions and tracking grant progress for nonprofits. Additionally, she has published over 100 magazine articles and blog posts, planned multiple large scale events, and helped companies develop policies and programs to make long term improvements to organizational efficiency. She has a Master of Science Degree in Science, Technology and Public Policy from Rochester Institute of Technology.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Nicole Howley brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Nicole Howley: Career-wise, one of the accomplishments I am most proud of is completing a year of service through AmeriCorps VISTA. In my role, I worked with the Office of Homelessness in Lexington, KY to help coordinate the response to homelessness throughout the city. While I did not work directly with clients, I worked with an amazing team of service providers to develop sustainable solutions to some of the barriers that were preventing people from obtaining housing and staying housed.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I accomplished there from organizing a city-wide count of people experiencing homelessness, establishing the first ID card scanning program at the second largest shelter in the city, to developing forms that helped people document their experience of homelessness so they could access housing resources more quickly. In this role, I felt incredibly motivated by the common goal of ending homelessness through housing and incredibly fulfilled from using my skills in data anlaysis and policy development to make a difference in people’s day to day lives. I am incredibly grateful for the experience and all that I learned professionally and on a personal level.

An additional personal highlight: winning first place in a women’s rock climbing competition in Louisville, KY last year!!

We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

NH: I wish it was flying. But really, I rock an Excel spreadsheet. I also build business intelligence dashboards that give people the power to make data driven decisions about their business. My goal is to help companies access their data to make better business decisions long term. Is there a cool super hero name for that power?

Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

NH: “If there is no right answer, there’s nothing left to do but decide.” As someone who loves data, reserach, and backing up my decisions, it is really easy for me to get caught up in trying to find the correct next step before moving forward, but in a lot of business, especially those that are incredibly innovative, there is no “right” answer – or at lease no known “right” answer.

Sometimes it can be tough for me to overcome by determination to find the right answer and to just jump into a project when I am not 100% confident in what I am doing. The friend who told me the quote above was encouraging me to get over that decision making hump and to dive in, try, and learn until I got it right by doing instead of getting caught in analysis paralysis. It was advice I really needed at the time and still think back to regularly.

We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

NH: I am very interested in measuring anything related to an organization’s goals, and I think those goals can vary greatly from organization to organization. However, I would encourage everyone to keep an eye out for the outliers and look into those instances more.

When I was working to address homelessness in Lexington, we would work day in and day out on creating policies and programs addressing the needs of as many people as we could as efficiently as possible and we knew from our numbers that we were making progress in reaching our goals.  But then we would look out the window of our office and see the same person day after day, month after month, still experiencing homelessness. We had our spreadsheets, our numbers, and our strategies that worked for the majority of our clients, but we got some of the best insight into how we could improve our system overall from noticing the people who’s needs weren’t being met.

I think finding outliers can help organizations find the nuggets of valuable feedback that might otherwise be overlooked. They can also help organizations determine their unique strengths and the areas that set them appart, as well as some of the areas they can improve efficiency that might otherwise go under the radar.

What do you love doing in your spare time?

NH: Rock climbing – I would rock climb everyday, all the time if my arms would physically let me. Biking – I used to bike everywhere and it’s actually incredibly fun to bike in the snow. Reading – I read more books than Bill Gates last year and it is still one of my favorite accomplishments.

Get to Know our Consultants: Stacey Servo

By Get to Know our Consultants

Open-i Advisors relies on the amazing talent of our consultants, whose experience and capabilities span the globe and a variety of industries. This blog post series is about helping you get to know a bit more about our consultants and where they come from.

Stacey Servo is the Founder of New2Lou, a social resource for newcomers and founding member of Wild Accelerator, a micro-accelerator and idea & early-stage startup initiative geared towards female entrepreneurs. She is an engineer by trade and natural problem solver specializing in marketing & growth strategy, community & brand engagement, thought leadership, social impact optimization, stakeholder engagement and partnership strategy. Never afraid of a new challenge, she dives deep into her work to discover not only solutions for her client’s toughest challenges, but also new opportunities.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Stacey Servo brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

OiA: We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Stacey Servo: One of the highlights on my engineering career was working on Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, who’s goal was to be the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city. I worked on a team who built a custom application to track and analyze city-wide resources and predict future demand.

My second career highlight was as an entrepreneur. I built a social-driven startup called New2Lou to help and engage newcomers and expanded to multiple markets. In Louisville alone, we built up a network of over 15,000 active and engaged young professionals within 5 years. I always tell aspiring entrepreneurs to find a need and fill it, especially if it aligns with your personal experience and passion.

OiA: Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

Servo: Build a network of people with similar goals and aspirations and find mentors to help you achieve your goals. Work with companies that inspire you and are aligned with your goals and passions. Actively engage with your community. It not only builds long term relationships, but also feels great and helps connect you to your community – a win-win.

OiA: We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

Servo: I’m a super connector. I build long term relationships with people around the world and love making connections to help build teams, partnerships and products. I’m also great at identify gaps and coming up with creative solutions.

OiA: We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

Servo: Community engagement and social impact. These can be difficult to measure which is why many companies are struggle, but once you establish your goals and metrics and align these to your overall company goals, you quickly can see the impact.

OiA: What do you love doing in your spare time?

Servo: I grew up in Northwestern Montana just outside of Glacier Park, so love spending time outdoors. I enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, yoga, camping and reading a good book in a hammock in the trees.

Get to Know our Consultants: Brandon J. Roy

By Get to Know our Consultants

Open-i Advisors relies on the amazing talent of our consultants, whose experience and capabilities span the globe and a variety of industries. This blog post series is about helping you get to know a bit more about our consultants and where they come from.

This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Brandon J. Roy brings to the Open-i Advisors team.

OiA: We’ve all come to Open-i Advisors from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?

Brandon J. Roy: My major work experience to date has been B2C brand marketing management at the L’Oréal Group, with luxury fragrances being my segment and category; lots of great scents! My primary mandates were brand strategy and operational marketing; my role was to use local insights to devise optimal strategies to launch products within my portfolio of brands into the Canadian market. A rich experience that regularly exposed me to sales analysis, local sourcing & product development, demand planning, operations, retail merchandising design, experiential retail, sales management and digital strategy.

Prior to this, I had the opportunity to dabble within business development at a nonprofit and spent a summer learning the ins and outs of agency work for clients in the health sector. My current passion project is my personal brand, Happy Tears Accessories, with a mission to bring more positivity and happiness practices into everyday life through vibrant, daily accessories.

For every engagement I’ve pursued up until now, whether in my personal or professional life, I move towards opportunities that my intuition tells me I will enjoy and with people I will enjoy doing it with. This very same mindset has lead me to Open-i and I am so thrilled join this team.

OiA: Outside feedback is enormously important for businesses. What’s some feedback that you’ve received personally that helped you grow?

Roy: “Test and learn” and “fail fast.” As personal growth is a product of learning, for this reason, these two pieces of advice come to mind right away for me.

In a digital marketplace, consumers are incredibly dynamic which provides an exciting opportunity for businesses to test ideas very quickly and learn from them through real-time feedback. Sometimes these ideas take off and sometimes they don’t; this is where ‘fail fast’ comes in. The question we should ask ourselves is how can we quickly take the feedback received and carry on, knowing a little more than we did yesterday. The people working in any organization don’t want to be paralyzed by fear and so, the organizations who can perpetuate a mindset of experimentation and learning, have the best opportunity to grow their people, keep them around and reap the biggest rewards.

Taking it a step further, I would even take the word ‘fail’ completely off the table and say: ‘test and learn fast.’ 

When you “fail” in the traditional – something I tried did not meet my expectations – kind of way, there is always something to learn and carry forward. This pure fact of learning makes you better off than you were before and therefore, would we really stand to call it a failure? In my humble opinion, it simply cannot be!

OiA: We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open-i Advisors. On the Open-i Advisors team, what’s your superpower?

Roy: I self-identity as a creativity confetti cannon with the power to inspire people to think bigger and differently.

I am always primed for launch and thrive off of a collaborative brainstorming session or any opportunity to flex my creative muscles.

OiA: We’re fond of the saying, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” What’s one thing you think an organization should immediately start measuring that they likely aren’t?

Roy: HAPPINESS. Hands down!

We’re at a time where the world is more and more machine-driven, replacing the tasks traditionally performed by people. What this will continue to do is move these people into jobs where collaboration and these very human attributes grow in importance; attributes like feeling mentally well, feeling well in our daily work environments and well in our relationships with the people we see with each day.

I see organizations now catching a glimpse into the hard data that is looking closely at happiness and well-being indicators and seeing how they are proving to be not only a part of the formula for life, but also part of the formula that leads to increased productivity and ultimately, an organization’s financial success. 

OiA: What do you love doing in your spare time?

Roy: I am a spin instructor and teach 5 times per week! Energy is contagious and I feel lucky to go into a dark room for 45-minutes and leave it carrying that energy into my personal and professional lives. Plus, I get to take my loves for dance, music and personal growth learnings into that room, too, and that’s just the best.