Thanks, ChildFund International

Time flies when you’re running as hard as you possibly can just to keep up! Since October, I’ve been working with the team at ChildFund International – filling a gap left by the departure of their Director of Strategy.

I recently joked with members of the organization’s global leadership team that I didn’t quite understand how I ended up at the front of the room – for a very process-focused and deliberate organization to invite me to ride shotgun seemed dangerous!

But, shotgun I rode, and what a great ride. I wrap this engagement with ChildFund with a much deeper appreciation for the deep commitment it takes to align more than 1,000 employees (plus countless stakeholders, sponsors, donors and partners) around a vision to improve the lives of children in distress – and the health of their communities.

In the last few weeks of work – leading up to a weeklong strategic planning session with a global team – I finally realized what an exceptional group of people worked out of the relatively innocuous building near Gaskins Road and West Broad Street. From staff to directors to senior leaders, people leaned in to contribute to making the meeting a success (and to make my work easier, and more effective).

Two weeks before the global meeting, a vice president emailed to tell me she thought my agenda was a disaster. (My words, not hers.) Then she gave me an hour of time by phone, and countless email exchanges, and the support of several of her colleagues, to strengthen the agenda by leaps-and-bounds.

Four days before the meeting, a group of senior executives had an opportunity to blow the agenda to pieces (and send me screaming into the night). Instead, they listened as we walked through it, pushed back on a few key pieces, and offered up their trust in the process.

As always, what really made the experience were the people.

In addition to the committed staff who helped organize (and quietly compensate for my sometimes-patchwork approach to planning), the 34 global leadership participants were real rockstars.

Representatives from Brazil to Sierra Leone, from the Philippines to Ecuador, from Washington to Singapore, everyone showed up to work. Even when the wings of the planning plane felt like they might shake off, participants leaned into the work – and breathed a quiet sigh of relief when we wrapped the meeting up in one piece, and with good outcomes.