CEO of DWA Healthcare Communications Group
Owner, Avant Healthcare
Grooming Tomorrow’s Leaders
A mentor does not necessarily need to be the complete package: A business person who combines leadership, intelligence, insight, empathy, collegiality, responsibility, integrity, humor and warmth. Nor does his or her story need to serve as an aspirational reminder that you can do anything you put your mind to. A mentor doesn’t need to have these qualities. But Deborah Wood absolutely embodies all of them.
Deborah founded her company 21 years ago one person at a time. Not one employee, but one person—herself. She now has nearly 220 employees and each one is treated as a person first. She holds a welcome meeting for each group of new hires, knows everyone by name, greets everyone she sees and makes it a point to know their strengths and aspirations.
While Deborah mentors in the traditional sense—spending one-on-one time to groom individuals into leaders as their promise and abilities come forth—she also provides a robust corporate culture that encourages employees to not only step up, but also care about others around them. For example, after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many companies were struggling. Not only with the tragic events, but also the need to cancel or reschedule programs, reroute stranded faculty or deal with a myriad of other issues. But everyone at the company pitched in to help those in need, a trend Deborah wanted to continue. The result was the “I’m Your Fan” award, given annually by staff members to a colleague who has “had their back” and helped them through difficult situations. It’s now one of the company’s most prized honors.
“I have had a varied career spanning more than 40 years, seven of those with DWA,” says Kathleen Cox, Market Research Specialist, Avant Healthcare. “I have worked under many management styles and have encountered bosses, teammates, bean-counters, process gurus, colleagues, role models and friends. Through all of it, I have only experienced one person I would truly call a mentor: Deborah Wood.”