Heather Dietz

Podcast Interview

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BFP: What do you do?

HD: I am the Co-innovation Communications Manager at Interface. The Co-innovation team’s primary goal is to enable big impact, collaborative innovation by connecting the right ideas to experts and resources across all our regional sites. My job within that team is to make sure the rest of the company knows how to get involved.

BFP: What is the best part about your job/project?

HD: I think the best part of my job is (as Nigel Stansfield, Chief Innovation Officer, puts it) “getting to look around corners.” It is exciting to get a sneak peek at the game-changing ideas that are bubbling up from our incredible associates around the globe. I also love knowing that we are connecting people that would not have any other way of knowing about each other, and those connections are sparking big changes.

BFP: What has been your greatest challenge?

HD: The greatest challenge is getting people to accept change. I feel pretty blessed to work in a company full of people who lean forward into the unknown – without that, programmes like Net-Works wouldn’t have been born. But even in such a game-changing culture, it’s hard to get people to adopt new behaviours – to share ideas early, and engage others in the early stages of a project.

How have you overcome these challenges? / What has been the secret of your success? / What advice can you give others?

HD: Strong relationships and trust are a big part of how we do what we do in the Co-innovation team. We are asking people to radicalize the way they operate, and in order to do that, you have to speak with credibility (past successes), and build a team of supporters that trust the vision.

Armed with that group of early advocates, it’s then up to you to help change the mindset of the rest of the community before you ask them to adopt any type of behavior change. People need to see the value of what you’re asking, and get behind the vision first.

BFP: If someone wants to do what you do – where do they start?

HD: Well, my route was a bit circuitous, to say the least. My first career was in the entertainment industry, working on the executive teams at film studios (MGM, Sony). I worked with writers, artists, directors and producers to tell the best stories we could. Having always been an avid environmentalist (I grew up in Northern California, and tree hugging is a rite of passage), I got pretty involved in Sony’s sustainability community, which was still growing. I realised quickly how much impact corporate entities could have by building environmental purpose into the core of their strategy, and decided to get my MBA and enter the broader corporate world – as a sustainability champion.

But on this winding road, I’ve always stayed true to the belief that compelling stories can change even the most hardened of hearts, and tried to hone my native abilities to help meet that goal.

If I were to give advice, it would be to look deep – understand what you do really well, then get better at it. Discover and develop your personal expertise, and then find a way to use that brilliant ability to deliver change according to your passion. I sometimes speak with people who believe that a deep passion to save the world is enough to get a great job, but I always ask them “What expertise do you have to bring to the table? How can you bring value to this fight?”

BFP: Finally, What do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?

HD: The BFP community is filled with people who are changing the world. I hope to learn from their experience, build relationships with people who inspire me to be better, and develop connections with organisations interested in Co-innovating with Interface.

Editor’s Note:

Thank you to Heather Dietz for taking the time to do this interview.

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