We’ve hit the ground running in 2018, largely due to our dynamic leadership and strong company culture. This is shaping up to be a year of achieving goals; both as a team and as individuals. Part of what has made MacKenzie successful over the years is the continued effort to engage and empower the MacKenzie staff. These efforts are driven by the operational side of our ownership duo and embraced by the entire team. So this month we’ve tapped our very own Katie Rucker, President of Operations, to be featured in our Thought Leader Spotlight!
What is your fondest memory as a teen being raised within a family business environment? Did you ever see yourself as being the future MacKenzie Corp owner?
Our dad started MacKenzie out of the bonus room in our house when we were 7 years old. I remember listening to the old plotter printer as we went to bed. I remember being confused about what he did, so at the time all I knew was I had a job opening mail to earn some spending money.
Numbers, data, computer programing… these things were not really interests of mine growing up. I’ve always been fascinated by the inter-workings of social groups, what motivates people to do something or buy something; which is why I went on to study Sociology in college.
I never saw a connection between social behaviors and numbers or statistics until I started to better understand how MacKenzie used research and data analytics. Over time I saw how my strengths and interests in the people-side of things could benefit our family business so ultimately, after accumulating some outside work experience of my own, I took the leap of faith to join the team.
What life experience(s) do you feel most prepared you for a leadership position?
Great question – I feel like there are so many ways to answer this. Simply, I would say that I feel life in general has prepared for where I am now. From backpacking around Europe in college (exploring new cultures, meeting people from all different walks of life), to my college studies that really taught me about the uniqueness of each individual person, to being a parent (negotiating lessons from a 2 year old and now a pre-teenage girl), my exposure to an amazing tribe of mentors I’ve met over the last 10 years, and the list could go on. I feel that there is a lesson to be learned every day and I work hard on continuing to cultivate my leadership skills with the new resources, idea, experiences presented to me.
As a business owner, what are some of the joys and some of the stressors of rolling into a new year?
Each New Year brings a fresh sense of excitement about what is possible to accomplish. The challenge is to not have the same goals and dreams as you had the year before because that would mean you have been standing still. One needs to be able to take a good hard look at what was accomplished the year prior and face and address any roadblocks that held your company back. This valuable step can be uncomfortable for some but is necessary to the path of forward momentum.
Please complete this sentence, and elaborate if possible:
“In 2018, brands can strengthen their internal culture by focusing on __________________________.”
…by focusing on their purpose.
When employees truly understand the impact that they are making, internally and externally, and when they are all moving in the same direction for a purpose bigger than a pay check, a company will begin to see a shift. This shift is not only within their employees’ engagement and satisfaction, but also in the customer’s experience with the brand.
If an organization is considering an employee feedback and engagement program this year, what are some of the key benefits of that type of initiative?
I think first of all, providing an opportunity for employees to share their honest feedback of the company is incredibly important. It helps them feel valued and that they have a voice in shaping their work environment. With that though, I caution asking for feedback if management is not open to receiving it; and especially if management is not willing to consider making changes based on it.
As a part of an efficient, closed-loop feedback program it’s important for brands to understand what motivates their team and align any engagement opportunities accordingly. Companies should also do an analysis to see how the current internal culture is lining up with the desired culture. How are your values being displayed? How is communication among team members? Answering questions like these will provide insights into areas of strength and areas in need of attention.
Having grown up within the constructs of a family business yourself, do you plan on involving your children at some point?
I love being a part of our family business. I have such pride in being able to continue moving forward the amazing company our father founded and I would love for my kids to be involved, if it’s what they want to do.
What is your 2018 quote or mantra?
My 2018 Mantra is “Be the Change.”
I feel like this statement has so many layers of depth and can mean something different every day. It reminds me that I can’t sit on the sidelines of life, that I have the power and drive to make positive changes for myself, my family, my business and my community.
Is there any advice you’d give to a young female looking to break into the world of business?
Network, Network, Network – there are so many amazing people out there who want to share their wealth of knowledge with the next generation. Be a continual student, learn from others, utilize the resources available, be humble, and know your purpose. Work for something bigger than a paycheck.