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By: Natalie O'Laughlin on September 9th, 2013

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Leadership Spotlight: Shirl Jenkins, SVP of IntelliDyne

Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices


Read the news lately? You’ve probably heard about IntelliDyne’s new leadership or one of the several awards they’ve recently received. This month Senior Vice President, Shirl Jenkins, shares why their programs are receiving tons of recognition as an outstanding workplace environment, healthiest employer, and how they’ve become successful leaders in the community. Read the full interview below!

Helios HR: Based on the recent transition that occurred with your executive leadership, how did you communicate and manage the outcome?

Shirl Jenkins: The transition that occurred recently with our executive leadership was more succession planning than anything and not really a surprise to our employees. Tony has been with IntelliDyne for a few years, so the transition was practically seamless.

As far as how we communicated the change, we were completely open. We had a lot of face-to-face meetings with our Program Managers and took a week to travel across the country to our various locations to have conversations with our teams in person. We really wanted everyone to have a connection with Tony.

We communicated our strategy for the future and focused on the first 90 days of his role as CEO. We surveyed employees in the field to see how they felt things were going. After we received their feedback, we went back to our leadership with the findings to help them understand how the employees were feeling. We then took that into account into our 2014 planning strategy.

Tony already understood our culture, our business, and made it flawless. We never missed a beat, initiatives continued on and it was a positive transition overall. We continue to promote the right people from within as our career strategy.  For example, our newly appointed CFO, Carlos Salazar, was promoted from within the organization

Helios HR: As an Apollo Alumni, IntelliDyne fosters a culture of intention, especially focused on continuous learning. Will you share a little about your iMentor and your Executive Potential Leadership programs?

Shirl Jenkins: We’ve actually expanded our mentoring program and we now have 4 programs:

The first program is pairing senior leadership with mentees throughout the company. This is a mandatory requirement of all of our vice presidents and above. We are very intentional in having senior leadership offer recommendations of who should be mentored.  For instance, I recommended that our CFO and Director of Finance mentor our HR Manager about the financial implications of the business, so that going forward we will always be solid in our policy decision making. Business Development is now partnering with our internal Legal Counsel to understand our culture, legal implications, etc. In fact, I’m mentoring someone in our field office who has expressed interest in human resources.

Another program that we just recently launched is a women’s leadership mentoring program. All female vice presidents and above, client facing and corporate employees will participate in group mentoring once a month.  One female leader will hold a roundtable with female participants. We will talk about the challenges women face in the workforce. The conversation is less about complaints and more about obstacles we have to learn to overcome and how to do so. For instance, we have an employee who had her second child who was debating whether or not to stay at work or to work from home. I explained to her how I stayed home for 2 years with my second child and how that set the tone for my family and work life. I shared with her that if anything, it improved my career. We also have a recommended reading list that ranges from personal development, maneuvering land mines to how to have a discussion with a protégé.

The IntelliDyne Technical Advisory Council (ITAC) is spearheading the iMentor program internally, serving as technology mentors. This group is responsible for keeping abreast of the latest technology and helping employees improve their skills which contribute to career advancement, job satisfaction, and engagement. ITAC has been a great way to keep our employees engaged. They always want to be developing or applying new technology. It is setup as self-selection and they have one-on-ones with the mentors and group mentoring. ITAC will also have outside experts as guest speakers to discuss a new technology and/or how to apply it into another area in the organization.

Our fourth mentoring program is Executive Potential Leaders (EXP) for high performing, high potential future leaders of the company who are handpicked. It’s an 8-10 month program for those employees who have demonstrated leadership capabilities at IntelliDyne. The participation is confidential because we don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on employees. The leadership team will advise and provide professional development to participants. They are given reading assignments, attend group meetings before or after work, and typically are given homework to do after their meetings. Some of the topics covered include:

· learning to be strategic;

· financial implications of decisions being made as a government contractor and their role;

· strategic planning for the overall business, partnership alliance and partnership management;

· managing diverse teams and career management;

· emotional intelligence and strategic business growth; and

· how to be a trusted advisor to your clients.

Sometimes it’s an outside speaker or an internal leader giving the presentations. Senior executives from other companies will come in to have a conversation and participate in the knowledge sharing. This way, everyone is learning. Our goal next year is to open up the mentoring program with an application process to give everyone the opportunity to be a mentor or mentee.

Helios HR: You’ve received a lot of recognition for your award-winning wellness program. Will you share your health & wellness strategy and how you’ve accomplished your goals?

Shirl Jenkins: Our program has been successful because we focus on setting goals and design activities around the health and wellness of our employees and the culture of our organization. We have a fun, competitive culture and wanted our program to be reflective of that. When we were first planning the program, we surveyed the employees to understand what their health challenges were and then designed the plan around that. Instead of individual challenges, we have competitive teams with logos and captains who serve as champions. What’s really important is that we have the commitment from the senior leadership team. We started the program four years ago and the CEO at the time stood up and shared how he was going to be an active participant in the program. Rob Gray, our founder, was seen getting his blood drawn at the last health screening.

We open the activities up to spouses and children and employees that are not on our health insurance. We provide iTHRIVE hats, duffle bags, water bottle, pedometer, t-shirts, all the things employees may need to work out. They also have an iThrive lunch bag so they are reminded to pack a healthy lunch and a reusable grocery bag for the farmer’s market. We log our 10,000 steps progress with an online tool. You can see how you are competing against your opposing team and you can even include your friends to participate. Another challenge was maintain don’t gain. The goal of this challenge was not to gain more than 2lbs between Thanksgiving through New Years. We lost 70lbs during that time!

We offer employees the opportunity to have a bio-metric screening, health risk assessment as well as a flu shot. We look at aggregate data from the bio-metric screenings to see where our problem areas are and try to target our “lunch and learns” around those topics. One thing we found in our renewal is that a lot of men weren’t having the recommended wellness check-ins. To incentivize the employees, we have a health savings plan that is linked toward employees’ wellness goals. We contribute to their HSA and each quarter they have to earn the wellness credits for dollars. For example, participating in the biometric screening and health assessment, doing a wellness visit, a mammogram or colonoscopy, etc. are ways to earn credits for dollars. We have a list of things that employees can choose from to earn their credits.

Most recently we linked our health and wellness program to our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, which is geared towards Veterans, Education and Technology causes. We sponsor teams to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon and also took a day recently to provide landscaping, lay out a brick walkway and put in electricity at the Fisher House. Our employees receive a $20 reimbursement per month for a gym membership. Another benefit we rolled out in June is that for those employees who participate in 5K runs or athletic events that require a registration, we will give them the $20 subsidy. If it’s a charity event, we give a $25 matching donation. We also have a Pinterest page for our iThrive wellness program!

Our goal is to have a healthy, educated workforce. But were not just invested in our employees’ health, we want their entire families to be healthy. People are very open about what they want to accomplish and we are there to support them. It is a lot of fun and we thoroughly enjoy doing it.