Julie Lodge-Jarrett may have a demanding career, but that doesn’t mean balance is lost on her. In fact, her take on what it means to achieve balance is quite inspiring. “Balance to me means living one life… not trying to simultaneously manage multiple different lives (such as my work life, my life as a mother, my life as a spouse, my life as an individual who needs to care for herself, my life as a community activist, etc.),” she says.
As Chief Talent Officer at Ford Motor Company, Lodge-Jarrett has a lot on her plate at work. Yet she’s been able to manage that work alongside her personal commitments because of Ford’s “Put People First” mentality — which she herself has had a role in shaping. “Our Culture Transformation is creating experiences for our Ford team that enhance their lives on a daily basis,” Lodge-Jarrett explains. “We’re creating experiences that enable people to bring their whole selves to work and to work in roles that are adding value to the business, and we’re partnering together as a ONE Ford family.”
Recently, Lodge-Jarrett — who’s been working at Ford for 20-plus years! — shared with Fairygodboss how her career has developed and the details of the Cultural Transformation she’s been leading at Ford … plus her No. 1 tip for women who are navigating their own path toward balance.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
My current role is serving as Ford’s Chief Talent Officer. I have global responsibility for Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development, Organization Development, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Processes & Experiences, Talent Analytics, Talent Systems and Culture. My priorities this year can be summarized into three main areas of focus: the redesign of our business, our culture, and our HR transformation.
How has your career with Ford evolved? Where did you start on your journey and where are you now?
I joined Ford Motor Company in 1998 through the Ford College Graduate rotational program in Human Resources. I’m an HR Generalist with significant experience in labor relations and negotiations, HR business partner roles in several functions across the business, as well as assignments in HR strategy and global learning & development.
My family and I had the tremendous opportunity to go on international service assignment in Shanghai, China for nearly five years, where I served in both a regional Asia Pacific role as well as the HR VP, Greater China. All of these roles have helped to prepare me for the role I currently hold!
What does ‘Put People First’ mean at Ford?
Our belief at Ford is that freedom of movement drives human progress. Putting People First means that whether we’re talking about our customers, employees, partners, or communities, we obsess about the wants and needs of people and see this as critical to the success of our business and society as a whole!
What inspired Ford to implement the Cultural Transformation? How did they decide which efforts to implement (employee feedback, research, a thought leader, etc.)?
When Jim Hackett joined Ford as our CEO in 2017, he recognized that our industry would change more in the next decade than it has in the last century. And while there were so many elements of our existing culture that would serve us well into the future, there were also elements that we needed to be reinforced — or even fixed — if we want to win in this future world.
As the Chief Talent Officer, I partnered with our CHRO and our executive leadership team to lead this work for the company. We spent time honoring our 116-year journey to fully understand where we’ve been and how our culture has evolved over time. We conducted considerable internal and external benchmarking to bring an outside-in perspective. We engaged our employees and our leaders to identify what aspects of our culture they felt we should carry forward, and what behaviors we needed to lock away. We conducted a series of Culture Hackathons around the globe, and all of these inputs helped shape our evolved values and behaviors, known to our employees as Our Truths.
How does Ford’s Cultural Transformation help its employees?
Our Culture Transformation is creating experiences for our Ford team that enhance their lives on a daily basis. We’re creating experiences that enable people to bring their whole selves to work and to work in roles that are adding value to the business, and we’re partnering together as a ONE Ford family. The cultural shifts we’re seeking will also drive improved business results, as we know a positive shift in behaviors drives a positive shift in results. When Ford wins we all win!
How have employees responded to these efforts?
We have engaged our employees throughout all stages of our journey, which was critical! Overall, the vast majority of our employees are energized and engaged in this transformation, and we have thousands around the world who have volunteered to be members of our Culture Street team and are helping us bring this to life in their markets/functions. Given the vast population, we have some employees who are not as far along on the change curve and are resisting change. This is to be expected, and we are ensuring we bring all of our employees with us through a diverse set of actions and experiences that will demonstrate the change is real AND improved!
Attaining work-life balance can be challenging. What people, resources and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
I have a great team at work who I empower to make the right decisions, and a supportive family at home… I rely greatly on this two-way support system! I am diligent about my calendar, and make sure I’m protecting time for both work and home and giving myself permission to say no to meetings and interactions that don’t serve me or help me be my best.
What does balance mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
Balance to me means living ONE life… not trying to simultaneously manage multiple different lives (e.g. my work life, my life as a mother, my life as a spouse, my life as an individual who needs to care for herself, my life as a community activist, etc.). This approach has been freeing – and has allowed me to prioritize what’s most important in my one life at any time… and to ensure I’m always spending time with who and what matters most.
What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to other women who want to excel both professionally and personally?
Cut yourself some slack! Practice loving kindness, as life is too short to not be happy and accepting of yourself. Surround yourself with people and work that bring you joy. And, finally, be grateful for all of your blessings and don’t try to over control or predict your success. Be confident, and know that the journey you’re on is exactly where you’re supposed to be!
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