Profile first featured Wendy Hufford and her leadership at ITT—one of our most-read features across fifty issues. And in our 2020 Culture issue, she spoke about her experiences launching Ascena Retail Group’s Women@Ascena network.
Now,she is currently the founder and president of Effective Dispute Management LLC, a legal process improvement, cost optimization and dispute resolution consulting firm based in the New York area.
We caught up with Hufford, who spoke on her accomplishments since her first feature in 2014, her advice for future executive leaders, and her core values.
Since you’ve been featured by Profile, what have been some accomplishments you’re most proud of?
When I was interviewed for the Profile piece back in 2014, I was serving as deputy general counsel at ITT Corporation. I am proud that, since that time, I was able to obtain the skills and experience needed to reach a long term career goal, becoming a public company general counsel.
Another accomplishment I am proud of is creating and driving a legal cost optimization program at Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) that saved the company over 22 percent annually on their outside counsel spend. I was honored to work with an incredible team of talented attorneys on this project and I was thrilled to see them recognized for their hard work on this project by winning a BI President’s Award for achieving financial savings goals. This was the first time that a legal department project had ever received this award.
I am also proud of helping launch and assuming a leadership role at corporate headquarters for Women@Ascena, a new women’s initiative network, to maximize the development and representation of women throughout the organization. This is very meaningful work for me and allowed me to leverage my past experiences in leading and developing women’s resource groups.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming executive leaders?
My best piece of advice for up and coming executives that applies to both work and home is to “be here now.” This is a lesson that I learned from Senn Delaney culture training where you stop multitasking and give your full attention to the people that you are interacting with in the moment. By being here now, you become a better listener at home and at work and improve your relationships with others. Sometimes, it is hard to step away from your phone or computer, but I have now developed the positive habit of not being on the phone or computer while interacting with others.
Another good piece of advice is to be a lifelong learner. In today’s fast moving technological environment, if you are not learning new things, you are moving backward. It is so important to support your own development and that of your team members so that you can keep up with changes and emerging issues in your industry and your function. When I lead a team, I encourage team members to have a development plan so they can continue to learn and grow. As for myself, this past year, I took classes in negotiation and mediation to enhance my dispute resolution skill set.
What core values do you have that you’ll carry throughout your career?
I have a number of core leadership values that I have carried and will continue to carry throughout my career. Some of the most important are as follows:
- Accountability: I think it is important to take responsibility for your own actions as well as deliver on the commitments that you have made to others.
- Authenticity: a leader needs to be genuine and express their true self to their teams and those they collaborate with.
- Agility: to me, this means the ability to adjust quickly to changing circumstances, something which happens often in our current business environment.
- Honesty: a leader should communicate honestly and transparently in their dealings with others.
- Integrity: a leader needs to do the right thing always as their reputation and that of their organization can be easily lost by a poor decision.
- Respect for all: treating people respectfully and empathetically with regard for their feelings and the way they wish to be treated is a core leadership value to follow in interactions with others.
- Teamwork and collaboration: the ability to work well with others to reach a goal or improve a process is a core leadership value.
- Customer focus: to be successful, a leader needs to figure out and be focused on the voice of the customer, both internal and external.
- Developing self and others: leaders should continue to grow their skill sets and support the development of their team members.
- Results-orientation: a leader needs to have a vision and inspire the team to follow that vision so they can support the company in achieving success for its shareholders and stakeholders.