Q+A: Marina Field of North Star Workforce Solutions LLC
Marina Field moved to DUMBO in 1999. She is the founder of North Star Workforce Solutions LLC, which helps organizations improve their understanding of what employee behaviors lead to success. We sat down to talk about her new company.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My background is in organizational psychology, similar to organizational behavior and organizational dynamics. It is the study of the intersection of work and people. I’ve always been fascinated by organizations and how employees work together. I started my career working in human resources, ended up getting my Ph.D and worked in consulting for four years at PwC. I’ve worked at few other major organizations along the way such as Pfizer, American Express, etc. I have experience at financial service companies and IT functions of larger companies as well. So I’ve worked at a lot of different types of organizations. I am also an adjunct professor at Teacher’s College and Northwestern.
What is your company about?
My company is dedicated to giving managers and leaders the tools and guidance to help them be more successful at work. One way I do this is through leadership development. This could be coming up with leadership training methods for the organization, or helping them develop their leadership pipeline. Another thing is change management. If an organization has an initiative to change a process from A to B, sometimes employees might not always like the change that’s happening, but the company will go on with the change anyways. If organizations do not come up with a proper “Change Management Plan,” employees may become resistant to the change and everyone will have a lot of trouble going through the change. I would come in and help the organization develop ways to get everyone on board when initiating a change. Making sure that the organization is really thinking it through, they’re articulating to the stakeholders about the vision of the change. Making sure everyone is on board is important for a successful change.
The last service I offer is meeting facilitation. If you want to have a meeting and have an outsider facilitator, I will come in and help you design the meeting, help facilitate, and deliver notes after. It is important to make sure that organizations and people are giving attention to the softer skills. Both technical and soft skills together are what’s going to make the organization successful. When I work with a client I try to make sure I really listen along with observing what's going on around me. Sometimes a client will come in and tell you a problem. This may not always be the actual problem. Coming in and making sure you're listening to the client, but keeping your eyes and ears open to see what the actual underlying issues are and raising that to the client is really important. Once the project is complete, it's not just "here's the problem, I'm leaving you," but making sure the client has a playbook with actionable steps to continue, and having a vision of where they need to go and how to get there.
Why did you decide to start your own company?
When I was working for different organizations, I started noticing that people were having issues in the workplace and a lot of them had to do with their managers. People are often promoted for their technical skills and work performance. When they get promoted, they don’t know how to manage people underneath them because no one really told them how to do it. It becomes really challenging for the manager and the employees. I wanted to do something to address this. Not many companies spend the time needed to make sure that their managers are actually prepared. I’d always wanted to go out on my own and finally just jumped in when my friend asked me what I was waiting for. You’re never going to be fully prepared so you just have to start.
How does your company fit in with the DUMBO community?
I believe there are a lot of organizations in DUMBO that can potentially benefit from what I do because not all companies are not necessarily able to think about the softer skills as much as the technical skills. Tech companies have a lot of skilled people, but they don’t necessarily have a lot of experience with their soft skills. DUMBO has grown exponentially, It would be great to help business in the area where I spent a majority of my adult life living. I didn’t understand how much of a rich community there was until I attended this year’s Annual Meeting. It made me really want to become part of it.
You’ve been living in DUMBO since 1999; tell us about your experience.
When I first moved in, Peas N’ Pickles didn’t exist! I remember the first time I had to stand in line at Peas N’ Pickles, and I was like "what is going on?" The neighborhood has changed dramatically since I moved in. There are so many people now. It was always beautiful, but the type of beauty has changed from kind of the desolate beauty to having a great park, renovated buildings and full of people. The most exciting change I’ve seen is the park. The fact that they really listened to the community and got the community involved and incorporated the vision is a great thing to see.
Favorite thing about DUMBO?
My favorite thing is just walking around and discovering something new. Walking around and seeing new stores, section of the park, and restaurants opening, just being surprised at something new happening. The other thing is that the neighborhood is so small so it really comes together in times of stress like after the Hurricane. Many businesses helping neighbors show DUMBO is a real community, which I really appreciate.