LCI Congress Keynote Preview: Carla Harris

LCI Congress Keynote Preview: Carla Harris

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing our interview with LCI Congress closing keynote speaker Carla Harris. As a Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and the author of Strategize to Win, Expect to Win, and Lead To Win, Harris has plenty of insights to share when it comes to succeeding in business. Drawing on her decades of experience in finance and investment banking, Ms. Harris will offer her thoughts on the future of the industry, leadership, and how professionals can best position themselves for success.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of who you are and your experience with Lean?

I am familiar with the concepts of Lean by way of experience and my work, not formal education.

What can attendees expect from your presentation?

They can expect me to talk about how to show up every day to be a powerful, impactful, and thoughtful leader in today’s context. Right now, boomers are the people in leadership positions, and they were brought up in a system that no longer exists. Therefore, I will discuss how to be an impactful leader for today and now.

What do you hope attendees take away from this year’s Congress?

I hope that attendees take away my pearls. These are a prescriptive set of tools for attendees to deploy immediately when they leave the Congress event.

Where do you see the most room for growth in design and construction?

The biggest area for growth is getting more diverse people into the industry, this means more women and more people of color. That’s easier said than done. We must meet people where they are and expose younger people to the design and construction space earlier. The trouble with attracting young people is that unless they know someone in this industry, it’s not on their radar. It’s not a career path they would ever consider pursuing because they simply do not know it exists. Increasing awareness about jobs and opportunities in this industry is the key to bringing in younger talent.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Recently, I spoke with college seniors who were spending their summer working on Wall Street. I asked them, “is this what you want to do with your life?” to which they all said, “yes.” I dug deeper, asking about other careers and opportunities that I thought they may think was good based on their interests. During this conversation they said they did in fact think other opportunities not on Wall Street, or even not within the banking realm did seem cool and of interest to them.

This is a perfect example of young adults who think they know what they want but are not seeing all their potential options. My point is that if you don’t stumble upon a person in a certain industry, then you don’t have anyone pushing you in that direction or onto that career path. Young people are exposed to jobs and careers around them where they grew up, who they know and what their parents do for work. This means that a young person could be pursuing a career that isn’t right for them and will not make them feel fulfilled.

Therefore, as leaders, who want to attract the best and brightest talent, we must put in the work to draw them to our organizations and industry.

What principle of Lean do you find most impactful?

Respect for People, because nobody can do it alone. Every leader will need someone else’s intellect, ideas, and ability to succeed. If you can show Respect for People, then those same people will give you their all in the workspace.

This is especially crucial after the pandemic. People see that there are more opportunities and options available to them. If you don’t show respect a great employee will seek out another opportunity. Retention is critical in every industry and retaining talent should be a leader’s top priority.

If people feel valued, they’re going to give you 150%. For me, I want the 150%, not 100%. I will invest in meeting a great employees needs and they will give me their best, every day.

We look forward to hearing from Carla on October 20th in New Orleans during her keynote address on Intentional Leadership! Learn more about Carla and our opening keynote, Andreas Phelps, by visiting our keynote page here.

Register for the LCI Congress today!