Business for a Better World: Highland Performance Solutions

An interview with Patricia Carl, CEO and founder of Highland Performance Solutions.

Q: Describe your company.

A: We are a woman-owned organizational consulting firm that provides solutions that solve a variety of challenges across the talent life cycle to accelerate organizational performance.

As a former CHRO, I recognized that organizations needed something different from business partners. They needed partners who move at the speed of business and that are fast, bold and effective. As a former practicing therapist, I am also inspired by human-centered leadership and its impact on the workplace - and the intersection of individual fulfillment, purpose and performance.

Highland Performance Solutions is built on the principle that when people feel valued and are inspired to do their best work, organizations will thrive. We partner with clients to develop strategies to leverage their most important asset: their people.

We serve organizations across industries in the areas of strategy and transformation, assessment and succession, leadership development, executive search and workforce transition.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: We just reached a big milestone in the company's three-year history by bringing on Lisa Tintner as senior vice president of strategy and business development in May. Lisa has over 25 years of experience in sales leadership and business development roles for organizations like Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning and Right Management. She brings valuable leadership, direction and vision for the company's growth trajectory and business development strategies. Since Lisa joined in May, she has led the team in launching our new website, refreshed our brand and we brought on an extended team of world-class consultants to deliver solutions to our valued client partners.

As we look to meet the exponential demand in organizational and leadership development, we will continue to build our talent pipeline and solution offerings to help clients succeed in this challenging talent marketplace.

We are continuing to make additional investments in our staff by adding senior level consultants, coaches as well as adding to our client services team. We've recently hired a director of client services to lead the client services team and ensure we continue to provide high-quality client experiences with HPS.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: Given the war for talent, like all organizations, our biggest challenge will be having enough resources to meet client demands. We're seeing a tremendous need for our services. Given the work we do, we see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. We help organizations with these kinds of workforce challenges and help them develop strategies to improve their employer brand, design efficient and effective talent structures, hire the right people and retain key talent to mitigate the business challenges we all face in the next year.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Over the last couple of years, the employer/employee contract has changed. The workplace has gone through a tremendous transformation; people want their work to configure around their lives instead of the other way around. This is represented in the current "quiet quitting" trend, where people are demanding flexibility, autonomy, inclusivity and a more holistic view on work and life.

People who are not being supported at work are voting with their feet and/or with their hearts: either quitting to find opportunities with organizations that can meet their personal and professional needs or staying and becoming disengaged and unproductive. These trends were already in flight over the last couple years - they've been accelerated recently due to the increase in remote work and the competitive talent marketplace.

Q: Does climate change affect how your company does business?

A: Many of our corporate clients are making significant commitments to ESG, a stakeholder-centric approach that measures the environmental and societal impact of businesses. This has implications for the organizational effectiveness and talent work that we do with clients, as they evolve their businesses to align to ESG standards - whether that's helping with organization and role design, identifying talent needs or doing diversity and inclusion work.

Q: What does your company do to reduce the effects of climate change?

A: Professional services is an intellectual business; we do a substantial proportion of our work with clients remotely, which mirrors how the clients themselves are working. That means less travel for all concerned. And we help businesses successfully adapt to the world of hybrid/virtual work. While we know the effects of remote work on climate change are complex - we're excited to be exploring ways for organizations to incorporate more sustainable practices into their operations overall.

Q: Is your company minority-owned? Woman-owned? If so, what are the challenges of being a minority- or woman-owned company?

A: Yes, we are proud to be a woman-owned business. We experience the set of challenges shared by our fellow small business owners - but our size can be an advantage - and organizations are seeking to do business with woman- and minority-owned businesses. The world, our work and talent are in a constant state of change, and we can be nimble and offer bespoke solutions.

Larger scale competitors have higher fixed overhead costs and established ways of doing business that can prevent them from thinking differently and moving quickly to solve client challenges. We see it as an opportunity to open the door for more diversity and inclusion within the C-suite. This is personally important to us as well as the broader business community.

Q: What does your company do regarding DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion)?

A: We know that diversity and inclusion drives innovation and growth, and expanded perspectives enhances the collective. We put this belief into practice in our work internally and externally. This is not just about hiring a diverse workforce, it's about being inclusive in all aspects of your business.

Organizations must build cultures that embrace diversity and demonstrate inclusive behavior: it's not one or the other - it's both. HPS was founded on the principle that organizations will thrive when people feel valued and are inspired to do their best work. That is what inclusion really is - making sure people feel accepted, valued for their unique experiences, qualities and traits and that those differences are celebrated and leveraged in the workplace.

Q: Does your company donate time or money to any philanthropic causes? If so, what causes?

A: Yes, I'm incredibly passionate about philanthropy and volunteerism. The HPS team dedicates time and resources to worthy causes - whether that is donating to charities or doing work for nonprofits at reduced rates or pro-bono. I personally commit time to charitable organizations as well, including serving as Chair of the board for SamaraCare, an organization that provides affordable mental health care and working with the Executive Women's Mentorship Initiative, a collaboration between Executive's Club of Chicago and the Chicago Network.

Q: Does your company do anything else to make your community better?

A: We offer an immersive, hands-on internship program to develop and support the HR leaders of tomorrow. The program provides an incredible opportunity for graduate students to get real-world experience and mentorship as they launch their careers. We really value empowerment at HPS - we encourage each individual on our team to take on new challenges and reach their full potential. It feels especially meaningful to offer this experience to those just starting out - and hopefully prepares them to do impactful work in the human capital space.

Q: What do you do to make your business a good place to work for your employees?

A: I would reinforce the empowerment we emphasize at HPS. We value each other's strengths, and we give our employees and consultants the opportunity to double down in their "zone of genius." Creating an environment where people can do more of the work they love and having the autonomy to do their best work. Purpose is a big part of why we do what we do - and giving people the opportunity to do purpose-fueled work is powerful.

We also are adamant about supporting the whole person at work, and that shows up in the way we operate and collaborate with each other. We all want each other to get ample restorative and down time outside of work. Many of us have family lives that require flexible working hours. We're trying to build an organization that embraces these different ways of working while also delivering invaluable results for our clients.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: One of the things I tell the team regularly is, "If you don't like a situation, wait five minutes - it's likely to change." This helps with perspective-taking and reflects how quickly our world evolves - no need to overreact to something that will likely be different tomorrow.

Q: What is one interesting fact about your company that most people may not know?

A: Our business name is inspired by the Scottish Highlands, one of my favorite places in the world - and I love the reference to "higher ground." Our goal at HPS is to help our clients continue to level up and take their businesses - and their people - to new heights.

• Tell us about your Business for a Better World at

Highland Performance Solutions

1415 West 22nd Street, Tower Floor, Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

(630) 684-2282

Industry: Business Consulting Services

Number of employees and consultants: 12

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