Leaning Into Leadership: A Q&A with Kristen Groh
Kristen Groh is a senior partner at Prophet. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her on several initiatives since she joined nearly one year ago. She brings a positive, upbeat perspective to everything she does. Kristen is incredibly thoughtful, thorough and just an overall pleasant person to be around while also pushing you to do your best strategic thinking. I look forward to years of collaboration.
Amanda Nizzere: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
Kristen Groh: I learned some key leadership traits from a boss I had early in my career. He taught me about balancing client and team needs, and how to keep perspective when things get hard. He used to say “no one falls off the internet and dies” when we were having a difficult launch.
As far as work focus and how to approach strategic thinking, I learned a lot from a program at my previous company. It gave me a lot of tools for structured thinking, but more importantly, it gave me the tools to manage things like Imposter Syndrome which can hold me back from doing my best.
“…it gave me the tools to manage things like Imposter Syndrome which can hold me back from doing my best.“
AN: What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?
KG: I’m always working on something – usually just trying to learn new technologies or industries where I am not familiar. My most recent focus has been on Cloud computing and Web 3.
AN: How do you prefer to start your day?
KG: I am an early bird and am usually up by 5 a.m. I like to start my day with a workout, coffee and a word game or two. After that, I’m ready to dig in.
AN: How do you prefer to end your day?
KG: Either with my kids sharing their days with me (which is fewer and far between now that they are teenagers), or with a glass of red wine and friends. I like to read a novel right before bed to calm my mind and help me relax.
AN: What was your first job?
KG: My first job as a teenager was weeding a Hosta Garden. (It was short-lived.) My first professional job was working at a clip-art company. The artists would draw on boards and then mail them to the company. We scanned the boards on a scanner and imported them into Photoshop or Illustrator. I would go into the digital files and clean them up or create vector versions, depending on the art style. They were then burned onto CD-ROMs for purchase.
AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?
KG: I wasn’t good at advocating for myself. I’ve always been a “go with the flow” person – the one who would pick up the pieces, wrap things up, keep things in order – but never really put a stake in the ground on what I did and didn’t want for myself. When I did declare a path and advocate for myself, it worked out really well and reminded me that I bring a lot to the table, even if it doesn’t “look” like what others might expect from me or my role. My unique perspective has value and I shouldn’t be shy about putting that out there.
Image: Kristen Groh, Senior Partner, Chicago Office
AN: What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Prophet?
KG: I was surprised by the balance of a human-centric culture with the very sound operations of the business. I had picked up on a bit of that in the interview process, but until you see it in action, it’s hard to really wrap your head around.
AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
KG: I would love to be an expert in wine – sommelier level knowledge. Just for fun though, I wouldn’t leave my day job!
AN: If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?
KG: “Go with the Flow.” It’s a general mantra of mine. That doesn’t mean I won’t steer the boat when I need to, but oftentimes, I like to let a situation ride out a bit and see where it will go. There’s a lot to learn in the journey. This applies to work, but also to travel, child-rearing, and relationships.
“Go with the flow. It’s a general mantra of mine.”
About the Series
Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves.
Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.
Kristen is a senior partner at Prophet and is currently leading our Growth Move for Transformation Solutions. If you have a client or potential client going through some sort of transformation of their business (and who isn’t these days?), she can help define how Prophet can partner with them and think through the various ins and outs of the efforts they are going through. Have any additional questions for Kristen? Reach out!