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Intentional Connections: Strategies for Building Strong Communities

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Show Notes

Overview:

In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug spoke with Diane Kenyon about the pivotal role of community in both professional and personal spheres. They discussed the value of intentionality in community involvement, the give-and-take nature of community building, and the need for regular contact and follow-up to maintain relationships. With Diane’s extensive experience in the Austin community and tech industry, she offered valuable insights into the dynamics of building and nurturing communities, whether in physical or virtual spaces.

Key Takeaways:

0:00 – Introduction

3:27 – Being Intentional in Community Engagement

  • Set clear goals: Emphasize the importance of defining specific objectives when engaging with communities, whether it’s expanding professional networks or pursuing personal interests.
  • Proactive networking efforts: Take intentional actions such as attending networking events, joining professional groups, and reaching out to individuals to foster meaningful connections.

6:40 – Community’s Impact on Professional Growth

  • Leveraging networking opportunities: Share anecdotes highlighting how active participation in community networks has led to valuable professional opportunities, demonstrating the significance of networking in career advancement.
  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing: Engaging with diverse communities exposes individuals to new ideas, insights, and perspectives, fostering personal and professional growth.

12:37 – Effective Connection Management

  • Utilize online platforms: Recommend leveraging platforms like LinkedIn for managing and nurturing connections, emphasizing the importance of maintaining an updated profile and engaging with connections regularly.
  • Consistent follow-up: Stress the significance of following up with contacts after networking events or meetings to strengthen relationships and sustain connections over time.

19:19 – Navigating Community in Hybrid Work Environments

  • Balancing internal and external networks: Discuss the importance of nurturing both internal work communities and external professional networks in hybrid work setups to maintain collaboration and support.
  • Creating inclusive spaces: Implement virtual coffee meetings, team-building activities, and online forums to ensure all team members, regardless of location, feel connected and engaged.

22:29 – Actionable Steps for Community Building

  • Set SMART goals: Advise setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals for community engagement to track progress and stay focused.
  • Utilize networking platforms: Encourage utilizing platforms like Facebook events, Meetup, and LinkedIn to discover and connect with like-minded individuals and organizations.

Guest Bio:

Diane Kenyon is an IT Leader who actively Pays It Forward by career coaching individuals in transition, mentoring, and participating in the Austin technology and non-profit communities. She is active with Austin Women in Technology, Innotech Austin, Society of Information Management, Austin Technology Council, and LinkedIn Local. Diane serves on the UT MIS Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Technology from Purdue University and a MBA from Kennesaw State University.

Personal LinkedInwww.linkedin.com/in/dianekenyon

About Melissa Aarskaug:

I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space.

Transcript

Diane Kenyon 00:00
If you’ve ever joined a company and everybody’s looking inward, so when they need information, they’re looking to somebody inside when they’re looking for what the new regulations mean. They’re looking for someone inside the organization to help them. And I think when you’re only looking inward, you don’t have the same view Vantage or information as when you look outward.

Narrator 00:34
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast, a show for the new generation of leaders. Join Melissa Aarskaug as she speaks to a wide variety of guests that bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth. While no one has all the answers by building a community of open minded and engaged leaders, we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.

Melissa Aarskaug 01:04
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast. Today I have Diane Kenyon here with us to talk about community. Thank you so much for being here today. Diane, would you mind introducing yourself?

Diane Kenyon 01:16
Hi, I’m Diane Kenyon. I’ve been active in the Austin community, both the tech community and the nonprofit community for a long time. Currently, I’m active with Austin Women in Technology, Society of Information Management, Innotech Austin, Austin Technology Council, LinkedIn Local. So I’m active with a lot of groups in the community, both giving and learning from these groups.

Melissa Aarskaug 01:40
Thank you so much for being here today, Diane. What does the concept of community mean to you?

Diane Kenyon 01:46
Well, I hear a lot of people talk about work life balance, like it’s polar, there’s two things and you know, you’re either at work or you’re at life, and they’re talking about integration. And instead of this teeter totter approach to our lives, I really see it as a three legged stool when, in addition to work in life, there’s community, and that’s the people you interact with, that are optional. Like it’s not, it’s not your immediate family, it’s not your work family. It’s optional. So looking at a three legged stool from that perspective, the seat becomes yourself that she and to find balance, you need all three legs in the game. So you know, you you want that community, that tribe, those people, the place where you know, you can learn and grow, where you can connect with like minded folks where you can learn from people that think differently than you that you know, both participating in community, whether it’s in professional organizations, or nonprofits and volunteering, both participating giving, leading in those areas. There’s just a lot of things that happen in community with others. I think we all felt it when we went into the pandemic, right. So you know that that community went away. And so, you know, let’s, let’s talk about how to get it back.

Melissa Aarskaug 03:17
That’s a really great point, you know, we have our lives are becoming more digital each and every day, we’re online zoom meetings, team meetings, we’re all Zoom fatigued out. So from your perspective, how do we balance virtual communities versus in person, communities and connections?

Diane Kenyon 03:35
I think the answer varies differently when you talk about balance, but I think the key word that comes to my mind, every time I think about community is intentionality. Like what am I intentionally doing? What where do I intentionally want to give? spend my time what do I want to learn? What how do I want to grow? Who how many connections do I want to make this month? So being intentional around what your goals are, what your learning opportunities are, what your cost benefit analysis is, I mean, everything around what you’re doing in that within that space, right? So if you’re a high introvert, being intentional, maybe meeting one on one with somebody for coffee once a month, somebody different it may be only joining virtual sessions and joining the discussion when you feel comfortable but doing that at least once a month. If you’re an extrovert and you get your energy from people, they they don’t have to be as intentional because they thrive in that space. You know, they want to go meet new people, they want to learn new things. They’re wanting to contribute in the space. Give back in some way. And so I think you know, we we see that it’s easier for them. but it’s not always easier for them. You know, when you have children at home, you have commitments. So you have to find what works for you and what’s intentional for you. And I would say you want to plan it, you want to set a goal, you want to measure it, you want to see how you did. And then you want to repeat. So just start, maybe it’s, maybe it’s two events a month, that’s where I started, when I moved to Austin, I was like, I didn’t know anybody. And, yeah, I said, I’m going to go to two external events a month, I’m gonna meet people, I’m gonna meet at least two people that I will follow up with at each event I go to, and you track that, and you measure that, and then you know what you’re building, and you’re gaining for the time that you spent.

Melissa Aarskaug 05:47
Yeah, Well said, I think you know, I also think community it’s, you got to have a community before you ask from the community, right, you have your work, like you mentioned in your, your family, but your community, they can help you in all different areas outside of, you know, job, stuff that can help you I’ve had some of my community friends move me many times in my life, and they would have never committed and helped me move unless I had those relationships, because nobody likes moving. And that’s a really good point to measure it. I think just saying once a month or twice a month, we’re going to attend something, but it’s easy to push those things off. Like when you are an introverted person, because you’re nervous. And, you know, maybe you stand in the corner, the first 10 times of doing it, and over time, you get better and more comfortable getting out there and building a community with people. And, you know, I think about like, maybe an experience, can you share with us either a personal or professional experience of where being part of a community had a significant impact on your life?

Diane Kenyon 06:52
I can think of several. I’d like to, maybe sure one, I started, you know, when I first came to Austin, and I was doing two events a month and one of the organizations I joined at that time was the CIO CTO form the US and Technology Council had actually, I think it was Austin software Council at the time, and it’s evolved over time. And then when sim started, then it folded into sim, and I joined that group to get references for vendors for I was running an IT department, I needed somebody to Well, I needed somebody to help me with my phone systems I needed, you know, somebody to talk to that had dealt on a much larger level than I had with Microsoft. And so, you know, I formed those relationships. And I gave him and I asked, I mean, it was a give and take, right. And at one point, and I don’t know that it was it was a mutual benefit that I was I happened to be between jobs, I was actively looking for a full time opportunity. And I got a call from one of my CIO connections, who just said, you know, Diane, are you still looking for work? And I said, Yes, I am. He said, Have you considered contract? I said, I can. He says, I really, I really need a favor. And so that was an opportunity for me to help him as much as he was helping me. And so as a favor to him, you know, I got engaged and went in and did some contracts to work for a business associate business that his company worked with. So you know, that I think it helped me, and it helped him. And that’s what community is about. You’re giving and you’re receiving?

Melissa Aarskaug 08:46
Yeah, absolutely. Well said, I think they think of you, right? When you have a relationship and you build a relationship. They’re like, Oh, I have this problem. And I know Diane can solve it. So you’re top of mind when you’re regularly around people and following up, like you mentioned, and keeping in constant contact or some kind of cadence with people at networking events, and how do you think building communities can help you from a professional growth perspective, and maybe a personal growth perspective?

Diane Kenyon 09:19
A lot. Yeah, I guess, you know, if you’ve ever joined a company, and everybody’s looking inward, they’re always looking inward. So when they need information, they’re looking to somebody inside when they’re looking for, you know, what the new regulations mean. They’re looking for someone inside the organization to help them and I think when you’re only looking inward, you don’t have the same view Vantage or information as when you look outward. And so you know, I I’ve been a part of agile Austin over the years and I’m now going to their events and hearing their challenges in their discussions and participating in those has gained me so much knowledge about Agile processes, agile challenges, and it enabled me to really coach my people. So personally, I’m, I’m always learning, I’m, I may have an interest in something, I may not have an interest in it I, I, I share, I went to a, an event one time, and you can find free events everywhere. If you want to go to anything, whether it’s professional or personal, you can find free events in our in your area that you can attend. And so that was a co-working space, I was having an open house, I wasn’t looking for co-working space. But I didn’t know a lot about co-working space at the time, this was probably four or five years before we work. And so I signed up, I went to their social, I heard their sales pitch, I met some people, one of the people I met there has a huge network of Central Texas entrepreneurs and business connectors, you know, so now I’m a part of his network as well. So you know, it’s, it’s both personal and it’s professional. And, you know, it’s like if you, if you don’t ask for something, you’re assuming the answer’s no. And if you know someone that might be able to help you and you ask, they’re going to go above and beyond to help you. And it’s both give and take, I respond to a lot of requests. And in return, a lot of people respond to my request. But that’s what makes the world go around is that community and helping and supporting each other. And whether you’re going for professional benefit learning, education, knowledge, new ideas, or whether you’re going for a hobby, there’s an opportunity to expand your network.

Melissa Aarskaug 11:54
I love it, it sounds like you push yourself out of your comfort zone as well in areas that you may not be an expert. And I think a lot of times we are drawn to areas that we know about or we have interest in and it sounds like you’ve you’ve just shown up places to learn something new that you otherwise would not have and been open to make new connections, which is amazing. I know that I didn’t even think about just doing it myself. I think that’s a great idea. Because I usually myself just go to technology events that interests me in AI are cyber women and but you’re right, you do learn a lot about other things. And you never know when you might need to take that tool from your toolbox or who knows who you’re gonna meet at these at these events. So how do you? What is your specific like tool you use to manage yourself or process that you flow through to keep track of all your connections? How do you nurture them both personally and online?

Diane Kenyon 12:54
Well, that’s a challenge. And in the good old days, you know, I have a huge Rolodex of business cards, and that those days are out the window, right? I will say LinkedIn is my tool of choice. And I try anyone I meet I tried to connect with on LinkedIn, you know, the QR code, there’s really simple. So you can do that. I meet people that aren’t on LinkedIn, it’s a little bit harder, you know, I try to make sure I get them in my contacts and my email and things like that. So you know, I think that’s the the tracking part of it. From my activities. I normally track those on my calendar. So I know how I’m doing against my goals and my metrics that you talk about connecting. And I think it’s, you know, it’s connecting people with people. It’s connecting people with ideas, and it’s connecting people with opportunities. And one of my innate abilities is really, you know, putting the pieces together. So, if I was at a recent Austin women and technology event, and there were a lot of people around, and Hi, Diane, Hi, Diane. Hi, Diane. And at some point, I was like, do I know this person? I guess I do. Yeah, it was hard to connect the dots. Because when you don’t see them for so long. It’s not as easy to recognize and recall their their name as it was when you saw them last month or the month before. And I had one of the board members ask about any do you know of any UI or UX positions? And since I’m currently in the job market, and I’m looking at different opportunities, I came across one, and then I was like, Who? Who was that? Who was that? That was winning it. I knew Emily had asked and so I posted it on Slack. And she responded and she connected me with the person and I’ve been as I see opportunities I’ve been sending them to her, but it’s you know, it looking at people online looking at LinkedIn, seeing somebody’s business in the news and sending them a note. You know, congratulating someone when they get promoted, you know, being there when somebody needs a conversation about this doesn’t feel right that they’re asking me to do this at work mean, just making yourself available. Try trying to find as many ways when someone asked me for help to say, yes, let’s figure out when we can do this. And when I’m asking for help being very intentional and specific about what I would like or what I would need, and it’s being active on LinkedIn as part of it, because if I post and people see it, then you know, it’s different than if they haven’t thought about me for five years.

Melissa Aarskaug 15:35
Yeah. You mentioned LinkedIn, and my phone sitting right here, I think you’ve nailed on a point that we should use our phone on here. So you mentioned connecting with people on LinkedIn. Correct? Awesome. Okay. So you know, the good old fashioned way we give our business card, we stick it in our pocket, we just stick it in our purse, and then we forget about the business card your kid would get at the dog would get it, you’d lose it whatever happened? Well, you’re right, everybody has a phone now. So if you download the LinkedIn app, and I’m on my LinkedIn here, ignore that if you go to the top right here, there’s the search bar, and next to the search bar, there’s a QR code and it should look just like this. And you could scan it and people can directly like you said, connect with you on LinkedIn. So it’s done for you. You don’t need a business card. And you can connect with them that way. It’s a great, great point, Diane, I don’t think many people know that trick. I am amazed at how many people I show that to when I’m networking are out socially. So thank you for that. It’s a good point. One other thing I was thinking about when you were talking is sometimes it feels like if you’re an engineer, there’s Society of Women Engineers, or American Society of Civil Engineers, I’ve been part of those organizations. For my career. are there instances where you would think that if you work in banking or compliance, that maybe it’s you shouldn’t join certain organizations? Because it could negatively affect your job? So is there any important factors to consider when you’re thinking about joining an organization or adding that group to your social media?

Diane Kenyon 17:23
Well, I think we all we all think that politics and religion really don’t have a place in the business world. It doesn’t mean that you can’t, you just want to be careful. You know, if you’re a Trump patriot, patriot, and you want to bless that and join groups and show that on LinkedIn, or on Facebook, you know, just know that other people can see that. And, you know, you might be asked about it. If you’re, if you feel strongly about it, and you can defend your position on it and your reasoning, and that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I think it’s okay. Whether it’s about church, whether it’s about something, you know, controversial, but you know, it becomes part of your permanent digital footprint. And it’s not really something you can erase over time. So you just want to be cautious about what’s in your professional footprint and what’s in your digital footprint, especially if you’re going to be working for others.

Melissa Aarskaug 18:32
Yeah, well said, I think I’ve seen some stuff on social media where I’m like, oh, hopefully, you know, knowing what they did for a living, hopefully, they’re careful on how they reply. So I think it’s right, having, you know, being mindful that you know, your bosses, your employers, your CEOs, people may not be a Republican, they might be a Democrat. So be careful on you know, how you reply to, you know, politics or religion, or all the things that could be misconstrued. I know, there’s one other point I wanted, I always think of, like, you mentioned, the beginning, communities have changed a lot since the pandemic when people originally, you know, we’re working out of an office and now, you know, they’re working remote at their desk in their home by themselves. So how do you think in the world today that the at office hybrid, how does that work from your perspective these days from a community perspective, good, bad, indifferent?

Diane Kenyon 19:32
I don’t know that the hybrid versus remote versus full time in office. This is a debate that’s going to continue for many decades, as to which is better and why I mean, it’s like work life balance was introduced in kind of the 70s in the 80s. And it’s still being talked about, right. So I think it’s something that’s going to continue. I think a lot of those decisions are made not because you need a community or you don’t need community, a lot of those decisions are made based on the amount of flexibility you would like the other obligations you have in your life, your priorities, and how much time you want to spend on the commute. I think you know, those are individual things that need to be assessed and determined for each person. Whether you’re working 100% remote, or you’re 100%. In the office, you’re expected to work with your teammates, right? So that’s the small work community and you just want to think about what are you doing to expand that community within the organization? Because community inside the organizations important community outside the organization is important. So how do you what are you doing to nurture that? Are you scheduling coffee, a virtual coffee? Are you scheduling a virtual? You know, let’s have a Friday afternoon, you know, game? You know, what, what are you doing to nurture that and encourage that the watercooler conversations are not gone? If you’re not in them, how are you going to get involved?

Melissa Aarskaug 21:07
Well said, I think you know, for the people that are virtual employees that work from their home, you nail that the watercooler discussions are important to make yourself visible. If you’re not near an office, how can you still connect with your peers, your bosses, either getting to their corporate offices getting on a plane getting on a train an automobile, however you have to get there, but making yourself known and getting your own brand into the organization. So if you’re just at your desk whittling away at your job, you’re not really being seen right from other people in the organization. So you have to, like you said, setting up a virtual coffee or getting to connect with your peers is super, super important. I would I would absolutely echo that. I know that that subject, I’m always I’m like, is it good? Is it bad? Where have we gone? You know, the one thing I do think is, you know, if you’re a remote employee, you’ve lost a lot of your sense of community by going to the office, like you mentioned, work cooler conversations, collaborating with people, you lose a lot of that touchy feely, you know, collaboration with your peers, and, and in, like you mentioned the beginning, it’s really important if you’re a hybrid person, by yourself all day, to get out of the office and talk to an adult, talk to some other people and build a community around your area. So in closing, Diane, just kind of final thoughts. I mean, top three things people could do from your perspective to build a community and maybe Secondly, partly how do they get started, if they’ve never done it?

Diane Kenyon 22:40
I think I would say the three step process is kind of think about it and set a goal. You know, build a plan for 30 or 60-90 days, execute on the plan, and then see how how you’re doing. And to get started, you know, I’m a big believer and looking at Facebook events, looking at meetup events, looking at Eventbrite, looking at LinkedIn events. There’s do 512, there’s do whatever your area code is, there’s options out there, you know, what you’re working on to professionally grow. And so if you want to do professional, then go find those people. If you want to learn more about agile or you have agile problems you want to solve, go join an Agile team or a group or a special interest group. If you want to learn more about healthcare, join a healthcare, you know, networking organization, if it’s not professional, then find something personal that’s of interest. You know, whether it be at church, whether it be volunteering, whether it be you know, some other hobby or interest that you have, if you want to learn more about drones, go find somebody else you can connect with and we’re and learn more about drones. So you know, it’s, it’s taking action, it’s being intentional, and it’s active, you know, it’s you know, seeing how it goes building the network, connecting with them having follow up conversations, you know, feeling like you’re they’re worth your time and that for your time that or and money that you invested or your company invested for you to attend a conference or a training class or go to a networking group that you have something to show for it. And you know, when it’s my time and my money, I want something I want to return on that and so I am intentionally looking for those first two people that I’m going to follow up with after the event each and every time I go so you know building community strengthened your stool like lengthens your stool like and strengthens your stool like and create some balance and it kind of sits between work and life because it doesn’t have to Your community doesn’t have to be about just your personal life. And it doesn’t have to be just about your work life. It can be about love.

Melissa Aarskaug 25:09
I love that it’s good point because some of my best best besties I met at a networking event that are my community, but they’re like my family and when I need advice, like you mentioned in the beginning, they’re the people I call before I make, you know, different major decisions in my life, or they talk me off my ledge for whatever I’m going to do next. Though, thank you so much for being here, Diane. We really appreciate your insights and all your nuggets that you shared with us today. Until next time, thank you for joining Executive Connect.

Narrator 25:45
You’ve been listening to the Executive Connect Podcast. If you have questions or ideas on how to bring leadership to the next level. Email us at executiveconnectpodcast@gmail.com And don’t forget to subscribe so you can catch every new episode. Until next time.

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Bryan Hancock Headshot — Founder of Integrity Development

Bryan Hancock

Founder of Integrity Development

Integrity Development

Executive Biography

Bryan Hancock has been managing real estate investments—and overseeing development and construction projects—for nearly two decades. He has deep roots in Austin, Texas, and comprehensive knowledge of the opportunities and challenges in this fast-growing market.

Through his development and syndication companies, which he built from the ground up, Bryan has developed 50+ urban infill projects and managed $25M in real estate sales with approximately 35% return on investment at the project level. He also co-founded two private equity funds.

Bryan brings in-depth industry awareness, sharp business acumen, and extensive in-the-trenches experience to his work as co-founder and principal of Integrity Development. He partners with a team of professionals and industry experts (many have been involved in Austin real estate for 40+ years) to identify value-added and opportunistic investments that protect capital and reduce risk for lenders—while delivering outsized returns for investors.

Earlier, Bryan founded and directed Inner 10 Development, a residential development firm focused on Austin’s top zip codes and surrounding communities, and H2i, LLC, a real estate syndication company. He steered these organizations for 17+ years, overseeing the acquisition, buildout, and sale of single-family and multifamily properties, including a 350-unit urban infill joint-venture project.

Bryan was successful in delivering strong returns while minimizing risk for bankers and investors by taking a targeted, data-driven approach to opportunity analysis, due diligence, and strategic decision-making. He zeroed in on potential risks and developed proactive mitigation strategies to protect and grow investments.

Concurrent with his work at Inner 10 Development and H2i, Bryan established Gentry Lending Group, a private-equity debt fund. He also served on the board of Bullseye Capital Real Property Opportunity Fund. These experiences provided Bryan with a grasp of both investor and banker viewpoints, including an understanding of risk and liability on the lending side. This aspect of his background continues to shape his real estate decisions to this day.

There is another unique aspect to Bryan’s career—a corporate history that differentiates him from other investors and developers in this field. Bryan has built organizations, controlled multimillion-dollar projects, and supported billion-dollar programs for some of the world’s largest companies: Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Dell, CACI, and Charles Schwab. He managed teams and vendors in the US, China, France, and India, and often balanced up to 10 projects at a time. He was trusted with a Top Secret Security Clearance from the United States government.

A business-savvy leader and lifelong learner, Bryan holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bryan founded the Wealth Investment Network, co-founded RealStarter (a crowdfunding platform for real estate investors), and was a member of the Urban Land Institute and Central Texas Angel Network. He has been a guest speaker at 20+ national events, including conferences and meetups through the Information Management Network (IMN), SXSW, Rice University, Bay Area Real Estate Summit, Soho Loft Conference, Texas Entrepreneur Network, and many others.

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Melissa Aarskaug Headshot — Founder of Executive Connect

Melissa Aarskaug

Founder of Executive Connect

Senior Executive, Board Member & Advisor

Vice President of Business Development
Bulletproof, a GLI company

Executive Biography

Melissa Aarskaug is a global executive and business leader at the forefront of the technology/cybersecurity industry. She shapes strategy, leads teams, and partners with Fortune 500 companies and other enterprise clients to protect their organizations from risk and noncompliance—while improving operations and accelerating growth.

For 15+ years, Melissa has taken the reins to propel organizations to the next level of performance. By combining business acumen and revenue optimization with the sharp mind of an engineer, she uncovers and seizes opportunities for profitable growth in the US and around the world.

Melissa has established a distinguished career with Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), where she is a key member of the senior executive team. Throughout her tenure, she has assembled teams, developed new markets, and influenced P&L impact, ultimately positioning GLI as the #1 provider of testing, certification, and cybersecurity services to the global gaming and lottery space.

After achieving this feat—a big win for GLI and game-changer for clients worldwide—Melissa steered both GLI and Bulletproof (acquired by GLI in 2016) into untapped verticals: finance, government, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, and retail. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable growth driver who cultivates partnerships and rallies teams, she led GLI/Bulletproof to dominate these markets as well.

Before joining GLI, Melissa shaped and executed strategy as Vice President of Business Operations for LV Investments, where she built and optimized a portfolio of commercial and industrial properties. Earlier, in a very different role as Project Engineering Manager for Fisher Industries, she directed and mobilized a team of 550 employees and contractors to develop the world’s largest concrete bridge. Previously, she headed a major engineering project for Pacific Mechanical Corporation.

A curious, lifelong learner, Melissa holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering with minors including Business and Mathematics. She is a Karrass Master Negotiator and C4 Executive Coach who actively pursues ongoing education and inspiration as a member of Chief, Austin Technology Council, Austin Women in Technology, and Toastmasters International. In addition to her own personal and professional development, Melissa is committed to helping other people thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. She actively mentors and empowers team members at GLI/Bulletproof, and is an executive leader and coach for Global Gaming Women. She founded Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Austin and is a current or past board member of many organizations, including Emerging Leaders in Gaming, Ballet Austin, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, the Society of Women Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She has been a Junior League volunteer in Austin, Las Vegas, and Reno for 15+ years.

Throughout her career, Melissa has inspired individuals, teams, and entire organizations to think differently about innovation, cybersecurity, leadership, and business development. She was honored as one of the “Emerging Leaders in Gaming: 40 Under 40” and she continues to share her ideas and expertise through publications, podcasts, webinars, and presentations.

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This is the Executive Connect

A show for the new generation of leaders. Join us as we discover unconventional leadership strategies not traditionally associated with executive roles. Our guests include upper-level C-Suite executives charting new ways to grow their organizations, successful entrepreneurs changing the way the world does business, and experts and thought leaders from fields outside of Corporate America that can bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth – all while connecting on a human level. No one has all the answers – but by building a community of open-minded and engaged leaders we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.