Thursday June 2, 2016

Transforming Cultures

For Patricia Russell, innovation comes in all forms. Not only has she taken risks professionally, starting her own consulting firm after a successful chemical engineering career, but her methods as a consultant concentrate on changing individual perspectives.

During her time as an undergraduate at the University of Dayton, Russell recorded a great deal of firsts. She helped found Minority Engineers for Advancement and was both the first woman from the Bahamas and the first African-American woman to graduate from the University with a chemical engineering degree.

After getting her master’s in chemical engineering and working in the field for several years, she discovered a different path. “I loved chemical engineering — I liked the analytics and the numbers,” she said. “But while working as a chemical engineer, I discovered the type of work I really belonged in. It was always about people.”

Sixteen years ago, she made the leap. By starting The Russell Consulting Group, Russell was able to pursue the work she loved. Her firm works with companies, primarily in health care and higher education, to improve productivity and create a great place to work. “A lot of consultants work on changing behavior, hoping that will impact results,” she said. “I focus on shifting thinking, on identifying thought patterns behind behaviors, on mastering ego to transform cultures.”

Russell’s engineering background has continued to serve her well, giving her firm a competitive edge. “The strategic-thinking skills I learned help me survive the ups and downs of consulting work,” she said. “If you don’t have that strategic or critical-thinking talent, it’s almost impossible to adapt your business model.”

—Madalyn Beban ’17

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