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Entrepreneurs of Utah Features Dr. Westover and HCI

Yesterday, Dr. Westover featured by Entrepreneurs of Utah. Below is the Q&A.

What is Human Capital Innovations?

Since 2007, HCI has helped our clients break through the personal and organizational obstacles that seem to be holding them back in their professional life. Life is too short to be unhappy, unsure, or unfulfilled at work. We help individuals learn and develop better ways to handle the issues that are standing in the way of their professional goals and organizational success. We specialize in leadership, organizational development and change management, HR and people management, and social impact coaching and consulting solutions.

What inspired Human Capital Innovations?

When I founded HCI in 2007, I was a doctoral student, with considerable industry experience as both an in-house and external consultant. As I was enhancing my research skills and capabilities, with a primary focus on the academic community, I realized I wanted to get back to why I was first drawn to consulting work in the first place -- to help develop and improve individuals and organizations. While I knew I wanted to pursue an academic career, I wanted to stay closely connected to industry and use my research in applied and practical ways and determined starting my own firm would allow me the opportunities and flexibility to fulfill this dream.

What makes Human Capital Innovations special?

While there are many management consulting firms out there addressing various aspects of business, my experience as both an internal and external consultant has been that far too often firms and their consultants take an overly simplistic, off-the shelf, one-size-fits-all approach to applying their own models to diverse and complex organizational challenges. Despite what some may suggest, there is no secret sauce, some magic bullet solution that will solve an organization's problems. The truth is, successful organizational leadership, change management, and people operations is really hard work, requires great attention to detail, and requires an in-depth understand of the unique organizational context. At HCI, we take a research-based, interdisciplinary systems approach to such organizational challenges and seek solutions specifically tailored to each individual organization and individual.

What do you do differently as a leader to make Human Capital Innovations successful?

As my primary goal for HCI is to help organizations and individuals maximize their potential, and thereby improve our communities and the lives or those they serve, I have never been in this for money. As such, I approach my leadership in a very collaborative way, with a completely flat organizational structure. There is no hierarchy and we all earn the same for our work with consulting engagements. I am lucky enough to have an amazing team of extremely talented individuals, each bringing their own unique skills and expertise. I trust my team members and I want them to feel valued and empowered, so it does not make sense for me to make money off their work. We are all in it together, support, and strengthen each other!

Where did you get your passion for business?

From even my earliest days, I remember being driven by the principles of fairness, equity, and authenticity. I could not help but notice the many injustices, hypocrisy, inefficiencies around me. As I received more academic and professional training, I was able to put words to what had always been at my core: a social justice orientation and a desire to serve people. While there are many avenues to work in these areas, my natural aptitude for understanding complex systems led me towards working to help organizations develop and sustain more healthy people-centric cultures, structures, policy, and practices.

What was one moment that you were most proud of yourself as an entrepreneur?

I am most proud of the team I have assembled. Collectively, we represent a wide range of professional and academic expertise, across industries and functions. It is such a team that organizations need to lean on as they work to tackle their most vexing challenges.

Where do you want HCI to be in 10 years?

Currently, we are very actively working to create more free content to help organizations and leaders. Over time, I hope that HCI will increasingly be seen as a vital hub for organizational research and evidence-based resources, all shared in a very understandable and digestible way. Dissemination and application of the research behind these resources is my main goal, to help as many organizations and individuals as possible.

What is your personal WHY for what you do?

My WHY comes servant leadership theory and can be summed up by the Korean proverb 청출어람 or 줄람지예, which translated means “Bluer than Indigo.” Indigo is the bluest of blues, so to have something that is bluer than indigo is truly remarkable—a deep, vibrant, and brilliant blue. Koreans use this proverb to describe the ideal relationship between leader/teacher and pupil—that is that the leader/teacher (indigo) trains and teaches the pupil to become bluer than indigo, or greater than himself/herself. There are many implications of this proverb that are also very important. First, this relationship implies that the leader/teacher sees and recognizes the true potential in their pupil. Second, the teacher makes every effort possible to help the pupil achieve that potential. Third, the teacher takes no thought of himself/herself but rather is dedicated entirely to the success of the pupil; also meaning that pride (ego, status, position, etc.) does not get in the way. As a leader and a teacher, I strive to reach this ideal. That means that I must truly value each colleague and student that I encounter, search out the great potential within each of them, and then do everything within my power to help them see that potential within themselves and then support them in working towards reaching it. To understand how to best provide this support, I must encourage each individual to candidly share his or her thoughts and views, actively listen to and value his or her input, and provide timely and appropriate feedback. Therefore, I strive to develop open relationships of mutual respect and accountability with each individual colleague, student, and client and clearly define my expectations for them, while also understanding their expectations for me.



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