This month we interviewed Catherine Meloy, CEO of Goodwill of Greater Washington. Catherine and her team at Goodwill won an Apollo Award this year in the nonprofit category, Hercules for having outstanding employee engagement initiatives. Catherine has many years of leadership experience and shares advice on what it takes to be a great leader and the importance of having an exceptional team.
Helios: What motivates you?
Catherine: “The most important thing that motivates me is working with an exceptional leadership team and watching that team truly change the lives of people within our own organization and then within our community.”
Helios:You have been with Goodwill since 2003, how has the culture evolved at Goodwill since you began?
Catherine: “The RISE Values began five years ago. They are not just words they are values that I personally am passionate about. The RISE Values are; Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. As the culture has continued to evolve at Goodwill the people who we hire within the organization, the people that we promote within our organization and the people that we bring on to the organization understand that at the very core of Goodwill those four values must be steeped in not only who they are but also the environment that they wish to work in. That is where the culture is constantly evolving. We are always striving towards greater respect, continuous integrity, and exceptional service then as a result trying to be a best in class nonprofit and organization serving our community.”
Helios: Over the past 10 years, Goodwill of Greater Washington has grown from 350 employees to over 800. What tips would you give an organization that is experiencing such growth?
Catherine: “The best advice, no matter how large the organization is, is to ask yourself, do you have the right people in the right place doing the right things? I think when you experience growth like we have it’s not that you have to add people it’s that you have to add great talent at every level. We are continuously evolving and striving to have best in class people to join the organization but also to provide people within the organization the platform to where they can evolve their own careers. As the organization grows you have to make sure you have leaders that have the same cultural values and those leaders of the organization in turn instill those values into the people who work for them.”
Helios: What is your top challenge today and how do you address it?
Catherine:“I think the top challenge everyone has today is when you have an opening within your organization, how do you attract the best talent? The challenge is not just what the job description is because job descriptions are just paper. First of all the question is, how do you let the public know the benefits of joining the organization? The second question is how do you make sure that it’s not just about what the individual can offer you but what your organization can offer them? When you are interviewing someone you need to be able to determine you can in fact give them a benefit as they are giving you a benefit. In the end, be really disciplined in the hiring process so you do attract the strongest of talent to your organization.”
Helios: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding leadership?
Catherine: “I left an organization one time and the person that I worked for gave the most profound advice I probably have ever received and am constantly aware of and that is asking yourself when you leave an organization, can and will the organization be as strong and continue to grow even without you? That’s a sign of a great leaders, they can walk away from whatever they’ve began and whatever they’ve been involved in and the organization they’ve left is on solid ground. It is also ready to continue growth in the future. If a leader leaves and the organization is shaky it was an organization based on a leader not an organization based on strong leadership and those are two very different aspects. That goes back into everything I’ve already said about hiring the right people. Ask yourself; Are they really strong? Are they people I’d like to work with? Are they smarter and brighter than who I am? One day when someone takes over the helm at Goodwill, hopefully not anytime soon, but one day that person will have an incredibly solid organization with exceptional talent that can continue to grow and benefit the people that work for Goodwill and the community which we serve.”