Christine Andrukonis said most organizations today are dealing with mergers or acquisitions, implementing new business strategies or moving toward a digital revolution to help manage their growth.
“So, how does one make sense of and help lead people through the massive amount of change and disruption in the world?” she said.
It is not an easy task, Andrukonis said, and often one that is mishandled, based on the rising number of employees leaving the workforce for entrepreneurship.
“The people who can see the future and get things done are leaving companies to go do that elsewhere, because large organizations cannot keep and unleash them in the ways they need to,” she said.
Andrukonis, president and founder of Notion Consulting, a Montclair-based leadership and transformation consultancy that helps C-suite executives “imagine the future and lead people to it,” said she is all too familiar with the story.
“I was one of those people who felt like I could not continue to work well within the environment I was in,” she said.
Andrukonis said she had been completing exciting work as senior vice president and the North American regional lead at Ketchum Change, a leading communications firm with Omnicom Group, for nearly five years when she realized the travel and demands required had made it difficult for her to meet commitments to both herself and her family.
“I wanted to stay and make it work, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that while still growing,” she said.
Instead, Andrukonis founded her own boutique consultancy, Notion Consulting, in the fall of 2015.
“I took on a couple of projects after I left my previous role, and it was not even a full month when I realized this could be my full-time gig,” she said. “The demand was there, because clients liked the kind of work I was doing and the arrangement in which I was delivering it.”
Andrukonis quickly began recruiting and hiring additional consultants with similar skills and backgrounds to her own, she said, as well as the same interest in balancing life and work.
“Then I started feeling as if the balance I had left my previous job for was being challenged and was becoming quite difficult to maintain,” Andrukonis said. “We had so many clients and had grown a large team, so I started looking for someone with leadership experience similar to mine to help me lead the business into its next phase.”
Diana Vienne, partner and executive vice president, joined the company last year.
Having worked in consulting since 1996 with companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and her own firm, Vienne Consulting, Vienne said she returned to Omnicom Group, after having worked with Andrukonis at Ketchum Change, as a chief talent officer to see what change management, organizational development and transformation looked like from the inside.
That is, until Andrukonis told Vienne what she had been working on at Notion Consulting.
“Right away, I knew I wanted to join Christine,” Vienne said. “She had a great client base, team and philosophy about living and bringing one’s whole self to work that I wanted to be a part of.”
Today, Notion Consulting employs a network of more than 30 top-tier consultants working from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Singapore and London, serving organizations and global companies headquartered mostly within the tri-state area, including The Children’s Place in Secaucus, the National Football League in Mount Laurel, Verisk in Jersey City and Pearson in Hoboken.
“Our model is inconsistent with many other professional service firms in that we have a core team who we then supplement with specialists and contractors to help manage workflows,” Andrukonis said.
The idea is to help improve the odds, she added.
“A recent statistic from the American Enterprise Institute states that 88 percent of companies that existed in the 1950s no longer exist today, and another from Chief Executive states that 50 percent of new CEOs fail, with ineffective change leadership being the No. 1 reason why,” Andrukonis said. “Our clients often come to us with these questions: ‘How do I keep the movers and shakers here? How do I become one myself? And how can we make sure we are unleashing our talent the way they need to be?’”
Andrukonis said Notion Consulting has relied on its Fast Track Model for Leading Change, including strategic and operational development, executive coaching, human resources and communications enablement, transition planning and more, to help C-suite executives shape their vision, equip their leaders, make sure they’ve got the right talent and engage their people moving forward.
“The executive team must first be clear and aligned on what their vision is for how they will be successful in a changing work environment,” Andrukonis said. “Then, an organization cannot be effective if their leaders are not at the forefront of change and able to rally their employees around it, so we help leaders build their capabilities to drive change while also looking at their people to see who has the skills and structure needed to be successful.
“Once they’ve got their leaders on board with their vision and at the forefront of whatever change is coming, and their talent has the skills needed, they then can engage people to make sure they are clear on where the company is going and what they themselves need to do to transition.”
Notion Consulting, which has worked with more than 150,000 leaders and employees, has experienced more than 15-fold revenue growth since its inception, including doubling in revenue since Vienne joined the team last year, Andrukonis said.
“Our plans moving forward are not only to continue to manage our growth, but also to continue a leadership study we have begun to gather more data about what we’ve been finding with our client work, which is that C-suite leaders need to think and lead differently if they are going to keep their most entrepreneurial and transformational leaders in their companies,” she said.
Andrukonis said she hopes to complete and publish the results of the study within the next year, as well as continue to heavily recruit new consultants.
“We would love to continue to have great talent come work with us in a way that is different,” she said. “Also, we’ve been looking more and more about how we can take the work we’ve been doing and apply it to the community.
“There are plenty of organizations focused on entrepreneurs and women in the workplace, especially, and we are looking at ways to help make a difference for them, as well.”