Home Social Impact Heroes Social Impact Heroes: How Tina Shah Paikeday is helping to create diverse...

Social Impact Heroes: How Tina Shah Paikeday is helping to create diverse and inclusive work cultures

Social Impact Heroes: How Tina Shah Paikeday is helping to create diverse and inclusive work cultures

When I was serving as an interviewer for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation as an alumnus of the program, I had the opportunity to learn the story of a young African American man whose grandfather was a sharecropper and the difficult circumstances that surrounded him as he grew up. He was intent on leveraging the power of education to make a change in his community, and his story of resilience, hope, and courage inspired me very much. He was not only a recipient of the scholarship but since then has become an attorney with a mission to continue to make a positive change in the community from which he comes.

I had the pleasure to interview Tina Shah Paikeday of Russell Reynolds Associates. Tina leads the firm’s global D&I Consulting Services as a senior member of the Leadership & Succession Practice. Recent work has included the recruitment of Chief Diversity Officers, the development of inclusive leaders and inclusive culture transformation. Based in San Francisco, she advises public, private and nonprofit clients around the world.

Tina has more than 20 years of industry experience. She joined Russell Reynolds Associates from the Talent Advisory Board, a boutique research and management consulting firm she founded. As a Managing Director, Tina advised clients on managing a diverse workforce. Earlier in her career, she was a Senior Director at the Corporate Executive Board and was instrumental in building the Corporate Leadership Council Solutions people analytics business. Tina started her career at McKinsey & Company and has worked in sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble and The Clorox Company. Tina was also CEO of zBox Company, a venture-backed, tech-based appliance producer whose product line was later acquired by Whirlpool.

Tina received a BS in commerce, with honors, from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has also completed doctoral-level coursework and is researching mindfulness and executive decision-making. Tina has lectured on organizational behavior, strategy and leadership at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Virginia. She is a Trustee of the IDEA Fund at the University of Virginia, an active supporter of Vision 2025: Diversity and Community at Stanford University and a member of the Academy of Management.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up as the daughter of US immigrants from India, I was always acutely aware of cultural differences. I watched many of the inequities in our systems have an impact on under-represented populations, as my mother taught special education on the south side of Chicago where I was born. After attending high school in the Northeast, I attended college in the South and became involved in a student-run honor system which at that time expelled African Americans at a much higher rate than their representation in the student population. I became a student leader to promote multi-culturalism and a greater sense of understanding across various demographics in the student population. I feel blessed to have married my personal passion for this work with my professional skills in management consulting.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

As a minority woman, I am granted a certain privilege in the work that I do to advance diversity and inclusion. I am joined in this work by many colleagues from the majority, who are also dedicated and passionate about this work. It is the first time I can remember that I must consciously recognize the privilege that I carry and serve as an advocate to those from the majority who are experiencing what it feels like to be part of the non-dominant group. This applies to members of my team.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Earlier in my career I focused so much on making rational decisions using my mind and left brain, I forgot about also using my right brain. My important life decisions are better made by using the whole brain. I made the decision to join Russell Reynolds using both heart and mind.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

Russell Reynolds Associates is a leadership advisory firm that is preparing leaders for tomorrow. Our firm is dedicated at the most senior levels to both diversity and inclusion — not only internally, but in all the work that we do with our clients. The level of social impact our efforts have across the globe — in the board members, chief executives, and other leaders we place — is profound. We predict and prepare diverse and inclusive leaders to lead organizations of the future.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?

When I was serving as an interviewer for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation as an alumnus of the program, I had the opportunity to learn the story of a young African American man whose grandfather was a sharecropper and the difficult circumstances that surrounded him as he grew up. He was intent on leveraging the power of education to make a change in his community, and his story of resilience, hope, and courage inspired me very much. He was not only a recipient of the scholarship but since then has become an attorney with a mission to continue to make a positive change in the community from which he comes.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The most basic thing we can do is to recognize that all of humanity has more in common than we realize. If we start from that level of understanding, we come to know that the different languages we speak, religions we practice, and the political views we hold are simply different ways to express ourselves with a common core. We are then in a better place to work together and collaborate across these differences to advance our communities, society, and the world more broadly speaking.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is the ability to inspire others through a shared vision. Martin Luther King Jr. had a vision that inspired a movement to give African Americans basic civil rights offered by the Constitution. His dream was “one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed…that all men are created equal.” His leadership with this vision eventually led to providing equity for African American civilians.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Do what you love: I am doing this after a circuitous path and much goodness comes from following my passions.
  2. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: The basic human ways of demonstrating respect through words such as please and thank you are important no matter what your age.
  3. Follow the platinum rule: Treating others the way that they want to be treated is more important than how you want to be treated.
  4. Integrate work and life: If you can be your true self across both spheres it will be easier to live to your fullest.
  5. Always believe: Anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would lead the “we are one people who celebrate our uniqueness” movement to celebrate both the common humanity that we share and the uniqueness that each of us brings to the table.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be the change you want to see.” — Mahatma Gandhi

When I took my first leadership class in college, I studied the incredible journey of Mohandas K. Gandhi and the courage it took for him to fight for basic human rights in a country where my parents were born. Trained as an attorney at some of the best institutions, he made a conscious choice to dedicate his life to the fight for freedom. I draw inspiration from his courage, passion, and leadership to continue to do the hard work that is needed to make a change in the world.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to meet the Dalai Lama because his life’s mission is to bring greater peace to the world through shared understanding.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tina-paikeday-740688a

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!