We are lucky to have so many tremendous women in our community! You’ve met quite a few of them in our Woman of the Week feature. Now, we’re going to ask them some probing questions and see what kind of insights we can glean from these talented, successful women. Some are Executive Elements clients and some are not. Some are seasoned professionals and some are just starting out in their career. And all are super smart!
Today we hear from Kimberly Ratcliff, Director of Communications for Battelle for Kids. A few months ago she was our Woman of the Week and now she’s agreed to share more career insights.
We asked Kim, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your career?”
Here’s what she told us….
The coolest work I’ve ever done has been with high-performing teams. I describe it as “cool” both in terms of the process and the final product. When I work with people I can trust in a team setting, the benefits are immeasurable. On a selfish level, it feels good to create with people who have high standards for quality and a good sense of humor. And in terms of productivity, the work is greatly improved by the efforts of a team that is constantly learning and growing.
The coolest thing about the coolest thing I’ve ever done is that it happens all of the time. I don’t even have to leave my office to find a good example. Where I work, at Battelle for Kids, we partner with large U.S. urban schools and rural collaboratives to support the transformation of educational systems for student success in college, career, and life. This is “big work” — it requires a passion and level of dedication that not everyone possesses. But every person I work with at Battelle for Kids has this mission-driven sense of purpose.
Here’s a case in point: My colleague and office-mate, Janice Zielinski, is a communications ninja of the highest degree. I feel like I learn more just by sitting in the same room with her. When we have a new challenge (i.e., every day!), our Senior Communications Director Julianne Nichols appears at our door, with a smile on her face, seeking out problem-solving help for one of our clients from across the country. Julianne starts the process by positioning the communications challenge. Then, she rolls up her sleeves to think through it with us. We gather chairs in a huddle or do stand-up meetings to work it through.
All three of us have similar backgrounds, with agency and/or corporate as well as education experience, and we all do the same type of work, but we have very different approaches to the process. Julianne is focused on strategic positioning—she keeps our team pointing to solutions for the overarching business goals. Janice is all about efficiency and creativity—she is one of the fastest and cleanest writers I know. I tend to bring an approach that leans into a combination of written and visual solutions to meet the needs of different types of thinkers and learners. Inevitably, we co-create solutions for our clients that they use over and over again, with many people in school districts. It’s an honor to know that our work touches so many educators.
I’m a firm believer in the power of teams to create wonderful and useful work. Whether I start off by framing up the solution, or if I’m involved in editing downstream from the written work’s inception, I trust in the quality of the work because it was initiated or touched by a colleague like Julianne or Janice. Working with cool people—defined by their ability to take the work to the next level—is most definitely my coolest thing ever done.
Wow, that’s fantastic! We love hearing that people are so inspired and jazzed by their work every day. Thanks so much for sharing, Kim!