Q&A with Channie Mize: General Manager, Columbus
The GM of Slalom Columbus shares the best advice she's ever received, the ways she challenges herself outside of work, and what will make Slalom the go-to consultancy in Columbus.
How did you initially get into consulting?
When I was graduating from Purdue, deciding what I was going to do “for the rest of my life” sounded incredibly daunting. As I learned more about consulting from what was then Andersen Consulting [now Accenture], the concept of working across industries and focusing on an ever-changing list of hard problems sounded exciting to me. Given my innate curiosity and need for changing scenery, I could not have been happier with my choice in profession. I love getting up every morning to work with my teams and clients to crack complex issues and streamline activities. Every day is different, which makes it exciting.
What made you choose Slalom?
I had heard of Slalom and knew it was one of the top companies to work for, which is an incredibly tough distinction for any consulting organization. However, I wasn’t specifically looking for Slalom given there was no office in Columbus. When I had my first conversation with the Slalom recruiter, I was immediately intrigued. The organization is such a tremendously positive—yet pragmatic—group of people and I’m absolutely aligned to the notion that we should deliver high quality work to our clients and have fun at work. Plus, there’s no arguing with success, and Slalom has been tremendously successful at helping their clients and their team members with their work local, work happy model.
What makes Columbus an exciting place to open a new office?
Columbus is a vibrant community with a broad range of client organizations, including 15 of the Fortune 1000, the government of Ohio, and more than 50 college campuses in the region, making it one of the most educated workforces in the country. All of this contributes to a robust energy making the city poised for further growth and investment.
Even with all that Columbus has to offer, this city still feels like a small town where a relationship matters and can open doors for other relationships. Slalom’s approach to working with clients through local relationships and delivering high-caliber, high-impact work will be a significant enabler to Columbus’ business, government, and educational communities.
What are your goals for the Columbus office?
My big-picture goals are twofold: serve our clients with integrity while exceeding their expectations, and build an inclusive environment where every team member can be safe to have fun at work and also contribute to the success of the client, team, and office. I fundamentally believe these two goals will unlock tremendous opportunities across the Columbus area and will ensure we build not just for five or ten years but for 20+ years. This will make Slalom the go-to consultancy in the local area if we can do both of these things successfully.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of great advice from leaders, peers, and people who work for me. Two of the best pieces of advice I’ve received are:
“Stop selling what you already sold.” A mentor once told me this. It was in context of not continuing to push an idea when the listener is thinking it through. Learn how to pause, revel in the silence, and wait for a response. And I have found it tremendously helpful. Reminding myself of this phrase has allowed me to listen and stop speaking. Sometimes, and maybe most often, listening is the most powerful way to change hearts and minds.
“Have perspective.” In the business world, there are times when everything seems incredibly urgent and critical at the same time. However, that's almost never the case. In fact, sometimes the urgent creates havoc that wouldn’t have been created with a more thoughtful response. So, if someone comes to me with their hair on fire about an issue, I always ask myself, How does the urgency and criticality of this fit with other priorities? What happens if I do nothing, or do something? Then I decide if I should hit my alert button independent of whether it has hit someone else’s alert button. I’m not advocating for inaction, but it’s important to always prioritize and keep that big-picture perspective as a leader, and help others do the same.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have a wonderful, understanding husband and three active and fun daughters. My daughters remind me every day how blessed I am and also how little I know about many things. If you have a preteen child, you understand that as your kids get older, you as a parent apparently start to be less knowledgeable. I also have a barely controlled Orangetheory addiction which means I am normally up at 4:30 a.m. to get to my 5:00 a.m. workout.
In addition to spending time with my family and working out, I love to travel for fun. This summer, my family and I visited Greece and then did a roadtrip through the southern part of Spain.
How do you continue to develop yourself as a person?
I believe there are two basic mindsets in life: a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. The growth mindset means that a person is flexible and is always viewing success through the lens of learning, growing, and improving. Over the last ten months, I've embarked on a mission to really, really learn Spanish. While I studied Spanish in high school and college, I couldn't really ever speak Spanish. So I decided it was time, and I threw myself into learning by taking online classes, reading children’s books in Spanish, listening to Spanish podcasts, spending the summer in Spain, and countless hours in a Duolingo app which I sometimes feel is taunting me.
What I've found though, is that learning a different language requires you to be humble and open your mind to a different cultural perspective. It’s frustrating, fun, and a true growth exercise. I haven’t quite reached the nirvana of fluency, but I am pretty capable of having a third-grade conversation. Test me sometime.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Something my teams have taught me over the years is that people can sense authentic leadership versus formulaic leadership. I strive to make my leadership authentic by creating an environment that encourages inclusive success, being open to new ideas, surrounding myself with people smarter than me, and making sure people have fun—life is short.