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Donna Hughes, Founder and CEO of Hughes Solutions, is a distinguished executive coach and business owner with an illustrious career that spans over 25 years. Formerly a human resources executive and accomplished attorney, Donna has left an indelible mark on the healthcare, life sciences, and retail industries. Her passion lies in coaching leaders to invest in their teams, fostering a positive impact on communities.

Renowned as a Human Capital Expert and Executive Coach, Donna Hughes advocates for a growth mindset, inclusive practices, and empowering employees to share innovative thoughts. Through her coaching, she dismantles organizational barriers, fostering inclusive leadership that breaks down hierarchies. By emphasizing self-awareness and intentionality in leadership, Donna equips executives to advance their goals and nurture high-performing teams, resulting in positive business outcomes.

Before assuming the role of Chief People Officer, Donna leveraged her legal acumen in various leadership roles. Known for her agility as a business partner, she designed legal strategies ensuring seamless alignment with business objectives. As a public speaker and community supporter, Donna shares her expertise on global workforce integration, conscious leadership, diversity equity and inclusion, and effective leadership strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Committed to community service, she actively serves on the Board for Morris Habitat for Humanity and has held key positions in non-profit organizations dedicated to fostering inclusive communities and supporting the professional growth of the minority labor and employment defense bar.

Hughes Solutions, a dynamic consulting firm, empowers leadership through seasoned guidance cultivated from firsthand experience in leading and consulting across diverse organizational challenges, spanning expansive growth to turnarounds and bankruptcies. Our unique ability to relate to clients enables us to provide tailored support, aiding them in navigating and thriving amidst significant change. Committed to excellence, we stand as partners with leaders, facilitating organizational transformations and ensuring success in every step of the journey.

Susan: Welcome to the Women’s Roundtable podcast, powered by the Think Factory, where we learn how women think big and grow their business. My name is Susan Kleiner and I’m a partner with Outside General Counsel Solutions and I am the host of today’s episode. I am happy to have with me here today Donna Hughes, the founder and CEO of Hughes Solutions, LLC. Hughes Solutions helps companies and leaders transform cultures and build high performing teams. Donna is an organizational leadership coach, former human resources executive and accomplished attorney with more than 25 years of experience spanning the health care, life sciences and retail industries. Her prior roles include Chief People, Officer for Emblem Health, one of the nation’s largest, not for profit health care insurers and its physicians affiliates as VP Human Resources for Impact Laboratories, a small cap pharmaceutical company. Vice President of labor and employment at Allergan. A $15 billion global pharmaceutical company. And director and assistant general counsel for Circuit City Stores. Donna is passionate about coaching senior and emerging leaders, so in turn, they may invest in their teams and positively shape their organizations and their communities. And Donna is no stranger to the Women’s Roundtable. She’s had some webinars with us, which has just been fabulous. And I’m so happy to welcome you back here today in this new format with the podcast. So thanks. Thanks for being here today, Donna.

Donna: Absolutely, Suzanne. Happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Susan: Yeah. So I just want to get right into it, because I know you have so many good things to say and I personally love talking to you and I find it so inspiring. And you really get me thinking about, you know, what I’m doing in work and coaching and working with others. And I know that what you have to offer is so beneficial for all of our listeners. So I read something somewhere that talked about your philosophy on leadership and you really focused on these this phrase servant leader, agile people, strategist and coach. And I’d love to hear more about this and how it differentiates you. So like starting with servant leader. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Donna: Sure. Sure. So there are a lot of different leadership styles, but servant leader is is my leadership style and one that I think is most effective in organizations that really want to be high performing and have high performing engaged cultures. Servant leaders put their employees first. They focus on inspiring and motivating and mentoring their talent. So it’s essentially the employer serving the employee kind of mindset instead of the employee serving the employer. And the outcome that we hope for and what I believe truly shows that is an engaged and committed workforce that are willing to bring their best to work and have high performing teams and a really engaged, positive culture. Without a positive culture, the organization is losing traction, losing talent, losing engagement, losing the ability to be innovative. And I honestly believe that servant leadership is how you truly support your workforce so that they can bring their very best and are willing to do so and and create those types of teams that drive great outcomes.

Susan: So when a shift, right, the employer is working to serve the employees versus the other way around, although it’s all about accomplishing the same objective. Right. Is to be a high performing team. Absolutely. So the next was being an agile people strategist, which I thought was really, you know, well said. Can you explain some about that?

Donna: Yeah. So well, agility is a leadership competency that is greatly needed in organizations. And it is important for organizations to really be agile around their business strategy, which you have to also have to be agile around your people strategy so that so that it aligns and so that it complements and so that it is a part of the overall strategy. It’s not something that’s just kind of done off the side of the desk and in dynamic times and competitive times, and also in times where talent has choices, they can go to the company next door. And if you want them to continue to stay with you and serve well in their time with your organization, you have to be agile around how you work with talent and figuring out what is most needed and what motivates and supports. Engagement. So agility around leadership, agility around engaging talent, agility around strategy for the organization.

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