Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Stacy Simpson of Genpact Is Helping To Change Our World

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Know your value. Each person brings their own unique combination of skills and perspective to the table. The key is identifying and leveraging that value and realizing that it is not one size fits all. What you bring to a project amongst your peers may be entirely different than the unique perspective you bring to a conversation with your CEO. For instance, if you have less experience than those around you, instead of seeing it as a liability, use it as a tool in bringing a fresh set of eyes and ears to the conversation. The sooner you identify your unique perspective and value, the greater your impact will be.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacy Simpson.

Stacy Simpson is the Chief Marketing Officer, and Global Leader of Corporate Responsibility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Genpact. With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and communications experience, she has a proven track record of driving impact and change at scale. Stacy has led award-winning efforts to make Genpact a more purpose-led company, bringing to life the company’s purpose — the relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From as far back as I can remember, my two most prominent traits were boundless curiosity and the gift of gab. I could talk. A lot. As a kid, I was always asking “why?” That marriage of curiosity and the ability to communicate led me to study broadcast journalism at Syracuse University. This is where I learned the power of storytelling and how it could be used to shape industries, build brands, win hearts and minds, and make a difference.

My sense of curiosity has served me well throughout my nearly 25-year career in technology marketing and communications. It’s also helped me build a platform that inspires Genpact’s 100,000 team members around the world to live our purpose — the relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people.

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

One of my very early strategic initiatives with Genpact was certainly one that has stuck with me over the years. Relaunching the Genpact brand to reflect our evolution from a global business process management firm to a leader in driving meaningful digital transformation was an immensely gratifying experience. When we first embarked on the rebranding aspects of the project, I knew we’d create a beautiful brand — a great visual identity, a new tone of voice and content that reflected the impact we could create for clients. To some extent, that initial articulation of who we were was the easy part. But what surprised me was the passion that it unlocked in our people and how, even several years later, it’s gone on to influence everything we do — from our engagement with talent, to how we interact with our clients, to the types of conversations we drive in the market.

It floored me that for so many of our people Genpact’s evolved brand became so much more than simply great design and positioning. It became a visual expression of the hopes and dreams of our employees, an articulation of who and what Genpact could be at its best. Overseeing this process from inception to launch and watching everyone rally around our evolved positioning — and the promise that positioning held for our people, our clients, and for the world — was truly rewarding. That work became foundational to so much of what we went on to do, including the articulation of our purpose last year.

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?

Several years ago, I was presenting at a conference to about 1,000 people from around the world. Early in the presentation, I hit the slide advance button one too many times and inadvertently launched a video while I was midsentence. The presentation went from poised and polished to confusing and embarrassing in, quite literally, the click of a button. I knew I had to quickly recover and regain control, or I’d lose the audience entirely. So, after taking a few seconds to compose myself, I looked at everyone, smiled and with a hint of humor said, “I don’t know about you, but I think this presentation is going great so far.” Everyone laughed — with me, not at me. I went back to the slide I wanted to present with attendees on my side rooting for me to do well. The rest of the presentation went well, thanks in part to that moment of levity.

It was a minor misstep but a great lesson in humility, grit, and that we must be able to laugh at ourselves and push ahead even when things don’t go according to plan. We must be willing to be vulnerable and bring people along with us on our journey. Letting people see the human behind the executive creates a personal connection and a shared experience, which is more powerful than even the best presentation.

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

At Genpact, we’re deeply committed to making a significant social impact in the communities where we live and work. We believe that to achieve our purpose we must drive equality at every level of society. For so many, equality begins with access — to education, opportunity, and healthcare. Some of the ways Genpact is making a difference in these areas includes:

  • Enabling health and wellness

Propelled by our belief that the private sector can and must be a force for good, we’ve leveraged our business process and technology innovation expertise to help accelerate the widespread adoption of rapid COVID-19 testing in the workplace, a critical element in ensuring safer, healthier communities. To achieve this, we co-founded the Rapid Action Consortium, alongside the Creative Destruction Lab Rapid Screening Consortium and COVID Collaborative, to bring scientists, academics, and organizations together, volunteering our time and learnings to create the best practices businesses need in this incredibly complex and rapidly changing pandemic environment.

Recently, the Rapid Action Consortium leveraged the insights and learnings gathered from its nearly 1.7 million tests by more than 1,800 participating companies, across more than 2,900 locations to publish a COVID-19 Testing Playbook. The Playbook is available for free to anyone who needs it to help businesses of all sizes set up scalable antigen testing programs in their organizations.

  • Eliminating hunger

We see hunger as a critical issue that must be eradicated, and we believe winning in this area requires radical transformation, partnerships, and big audacious goals. Here are just a couple of examples of how we’re tackling this across the globe:

In 2021, we partnered with Not Impossible Labs’ hunger initiative, Bento, to leverage Genpact’s technology and digital innovation to help them amplify their impact in eliminating hunger, one community at a time. . The Bento platform is designed to provide free and healthy meals to those in need via a seamless text-based technology interface, allowing food insecure individuals access to local, healthy meals. By harnessing nutrition data, we’re automating meal recommendations so the service can dynamically offer healthy or medically tailored meals to the people who need them. Our expertise with digital technologies is making Bento radically scalable helping it to reach its goal of serving 1 million meals more quickly every month across the US, a critical step in improving the health and lives of millions of individuals.

Genpact’s annual campaign to tackle hunger serves to catalyze our people globally to do their part in the fight against hunger. In 2021, we had an audacious goal of feeding 30 million people around the world. Thanks to the relentless commitment of our people, we surpassed that goal and have distributed more than 78 million meals in communities around the world since the program launched in 2018.

  • Creating opportunity

Few communities have escaped the destabilizing effects of COVID-19, but some groups and families have felt the impact significantly more than others. In response to these growing inequities, Genpact created the Rise Together program to give the individuals who need it most access to job opportunities and ongoing support. This opens the door to long-term recovery and resilience around the world.

Among the most-disrupted groups are families that have lost their main breadwinner. For many — most frequently women — returning to the workforce is a challenge when their skills need refreshing to take on new roles. Rise Together offers job openings alongside an eight-week learning journey that enables people to adapt and rise into a role at Genpact and provides a support structure that sets them up to thrive today and in the future.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by our cause?

Our purpose is our north star which guides everything we do — from leveraging our digital innovation to help clients and social enterprises maximize their impact, to digitally transforming government education systems to improve the quality of education for millions of students in communities around the world, and everything in between.

Among many important initiatives, stories from our Rise Together program stand out for me as particularly powerful, because they speak directly to the resilience of people and communities to adapt and rise through the incredible challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a woman who had just lost her husband, a long-tenured Genpact employee, to COVID-19 had never held a professional position before joining Genpact via the Rise Together program. At the time, her fear and hesitation were palpable, yet she persisted, determined to support her family. The program equipped her with the training, confidence, and support she needed to, not only enter the workforce for the first time under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, but to create a career with long term professional and personal growth potential.

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

Social impact is not a spectator sport. There’s something all of us can do to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues:

  • Just start. The challenges we’re facing are complex and can leave us feeling paralyzed or unsure of what to do first. But we just need to take that first step. Action, even if incremental, is better than inaction.
  • Provide access. Removing many of the barriers to opportunity, education, and health care requires that governments, the private sector, and private citizens work together. We must show up for each other and offer a hand up to those in historically undeveloped and underserved communities.
  • Create ecosystems of impact. The sum of us really are more powerful and impactful than our parts. When we bring groups together to tackle incredibly complex problems, that diversity of thought, expertise in perspectives, all catalyzed around a common goal, amplifies our potential.

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

Leadership is a mix of empathy, vision, structure, and gratitude — but not always in equal measure. As a leader, part of the challenge is knowing which qualities to dial up and when — based on the situation, the circumstances, and even the person.

Gratitude is one of the most important — but often overlooked — aspects of leadership. Good leaders know that gratitude is an amplifying force that can transform companies, teams, and people. They also realize that the absence of gratitude can corrode culture and prevent an organization from fulfilling its mission and vision.

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

Know your value. Each person brings their own unique combination of skills and perspective to the table. The key is identifying and leveraging that value and realizing that it is not one size fits all. What you bring to a project amongst your peers may be entirely different than the unique perspective you bring to a conversation with your CEO. For instance, if you have less experience than those around you, instead of seeing it as a liability, use it as a tool in bringing a fresh set of eyes and ears to the conversation. The sooner you identify your unique perspective and value, the greater your impact will be.

Stay curious. Keep learning and growing. Ask questions. There’s always a new challenge to conquer, a new skill to learn, and a new story to tell. When you accomplish a goal, set a new one, a higher one, a harder one.

Do what scares you. I had an excellent career at a company I enjoyed. When I had an opportunity to leave for a very different kind of company, some told me to stay. They said I should continue to grow my career at a reputable, established, and well-known organization and that the new company was much more of a risk. Staying where I was would have been the safe route. But I took a different path. I jumped into the unknown knowing that whether it was a great success or a disaster, it would be one heck of a learning experience! It ended up being an amazing ride and a choice I never regretted. Choose the bold route — the option that you’re not entirely sure you can do. That’s when growth happens.

Embrace the fail. Mistakes are part of the journey and none of us are immune. If you use each mistake as an opportunity to recover and learn, they become a gift. Wear your mistakes proudly. Acknowledge them and celebrate the well-earned learnings that they provide.

Be kind. It’s simple and something we’re all taught as kids. But as we advance, kindness can sometimes feel like it’s in short supply. Most of us have probably left a meeting not feeling great about how it went. Not because of the outcome, but because of the experience of that meeting. A slight, a negative comment, or a difficult environment can turn even a win into something that feels like a loss. Kindness creates the psychological safety that allows people to contribute and bring their best selves to their work. Don’t underestimate the difference kindness can make.

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. 🙂

If I could start a global movement, it would be: Lift as you climb. Participation required.

We all have a role to play in helping others regardless of where we live or what we do — it just takes our time, our work, our votes, and our support. My movement would focus on access — to opportunity, education, and health and nutrition. Because without these fundamental needs met, our society will continue to struggle to become more equitable.

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

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” From Harvard law professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

I love this quote because it speaks to my curious nature, my desire to follow my own path, and not conform to others’ ideas of what my path should be. While it mentions women specifically, all of us must be willing to question how and why things have always been done. Lasting change comes from knowing which boundaries to observe and which boundaries to push.

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

I’m always available for Michelle Obama! She’s fascinating, fierce, and so thoughtful. I think of her as a reluctant hero. She steps up and does what the moment calls for not because she wants the spotlight or credit, but because she knows it’s the right thing to do.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On LinkedIn and on Twitter.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Stacy Simpson of Genpact Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.