Updated: May 22
Purpose HQ brings together people data and analytics to change the way organizations see their people and the way people see themselves. New President, Natalie Mazza Engledow, was recently brought in to lead the company through its next iteration of workforce solutions.
Natalie is the type of transformational leader organizations seek when they want to head in a new direction, enter new markets or change their business It’s not surprising that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (emphasis on belonging) is a priority to Natalie President of Purpose HQ. Putting people and purpose at the center of organizational strategy, we are proud to partner with Purpose HQ in this effort to seek MORE for ourselves — personally and professionally model for next-level growth. She’s been called a strategic operational fixer and consistently delivers meaningful, necessary change. “Organizations shouldn’t bring me in if they want to maintain the status quo.”
Engledow says she “grew up” in a high-performing organization that emphasized authentic leadership and transparency. She’s referring to her twelve years at Xerox Global Services. In 1999, Xerox Corporation was looking for a strategic relationship builder, someone with tenacity and grit, who would persist as long as it took to rebuild Xerox’s presence in Indiana State and Local Government. A childhood coach recommended Natalie for the job.
“I vividly remember that people thought I was crazy to join Xerox when the company was on life support. I saw it as an opportunity to learn from the best. I was also a little naïve becau
se it never really occurred to me that bankruptcy was possible. We knew we were turning the Titanic, and everyone acknowledged it wasn’t going to be easy or comfortable. But it would be worth it.”
It was a unique assignment, she admits, “I can’t tell you how many times I thought about walking away because no one expected us to succeed.” Until a comment made by a
departing coworker provided the motivation to defy expectations. “It was such an asshole thing to say that I’ll never forget it. He was leaving to go to a competitor and as he left the office he paused, turned around, smiled and said, You know, you’re wasting your time. You’re never going to win that deal.” And she accepted the challenge.
The persistence she was hired for paid off, and Natalie made a name for herself by doing what many thought couldn’t be done - landing Xerox’ largest municipal government outsourcing agreement. She had found her niche, persevering through a perio
d of transformation and becoming part of one of the legendary corporate turnaround stories of this century - Xerox Corporation.
It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
We sat down with Natalie for a candid conversation about how our early education and career experiences have the power to shape our expectations for our careers and our lives and how she’s using her experience to lead positive change in the workforce.
Some people measure their careers by accomplishments and milestones, but for Natalie, her career isn’t about what she’s accomplished. It’s about who she’s become.
How did your early work experiences impact your career expectations?
Xerox was an organization that was designed to be diverse and inclusive from its inception. Even during lean times, we invested in R&D and we invested in our people. We had back-to back female CEO’s while I was there, Anne Mulcahey and Ursula Burns, and they came through the ranks on completely different paths. It was incredibly empowering.
When I left Xerox, any expectations I had were completely shattered. I was unprepared for the realities of being a woman in tech in the midwest. Xerox was a little bubble of diversity, a fair and equitable playing field. I had no idea that I’d have to conform to outdated expectations of women in the workforce or prove my credibility over and over again when I stepped outside of that bubble.”
What impact has Purpose HQ and its tools/resources had on you?
For years, work had been missing something for me - I felt disconnected from the people I worked with and the organization itself. I felt like a commodity, misunderstood, and expected to conform to someone else’s expectations of who I should be.
Behavioral science and people analytics offers an objective, data-driven approach to understanding ourselves and each other and there is tremendous power in that. I gained the clarity I needed to re-evaluate, re-think, and let go of messages and perceptions that just weren’t valid. I am not limited by someone else’s view of who I am, who I should be, or what I’m capable of. Applying our method, tools, and resources gave me back my voice and got me out from under the weight of other people’s expectations.
How have your expectations for you and your career shifted as your awareness of self have grown?
Awareness of self puts you in control of your journey. My world and my vision for my life have been expanded by letting go of what was no longer valid.
When you know who you are, your values and your intentions, you have clarity to make better decisions and your actions and behavior are more likely to be in alignment with your vision.
This part of my career is all about leading positive change and enabling growth. I genuinely believe each of us is capable of a bigger game, a bolder vision, and I expect myself and those around me to seek that mindset. If you’re not there yet, I am honored to play a role in that transition. The biggest shift for me was discovering an authentic higher purpose. My career is not about me. I see so many people working in situations where they aren’t thriving, where their unique abilities are underutilized or undervalued, or they have unethical and/or uninspiring leaders who have little awareness of how negatively they’re impacting those around them. Humans are complicated and we can rationalize the hell out of why we should stay in those situations. Happiness, fulfillment and psychological safety should not be optional. We just need to figure out how to get there and who is willing to help.
How does emotional intelligence play a part in your journey?
We’re all human and we share a set of universal emotions and needs that are the driving force behind our behavior. But it’s our emotions that come first, preceding our thoughts and actions. When we lack emotional self-awareness, we’re operating in an emotionally reactive state, letting our emotions dictate our behavior. A sudden emotion can hijack our ability to respond appropriately and we’re more likely to completely derail from our path.
I’ve made it a practice to reflect on the moments where I wasn’t my best self and notice what it was that got under my skin. It’s a potential derailer for me when I feel like I’m not being heard or the other party isn’t seeking to understand my perspective. In the past, I could become undone faster than I could get out of my own way!
Now, when I notice my stomach clench, I can name the feeling, understand the need that isn’t being met, and choose how to respond. Next level practice for me is what to do when I have responded appropriately, and the other person reacts emotionally. It’s an ongoing journey.
What part have you seen it play in others’ journeys?
EQ has the power to open up a world of possibility, or massively limit our potential. EQ skills play off of each other, creating positive momentum or holding us back even further.
For example, when we lack self-confidence, we don’t trust ourselves or our abilities and have a tendency to see failure as fatal.
This often goes hand in hand with Self-Blame, causing us to feel inferior and inadequate, preventing learning, and inhibiting our growth.
Low Stress-Tolerance leads to hostility and crumbling under pressure; if we also have a lack of resiliency, we’re more likely to stay in that negative state, unable to rebound.
When we’ve been operating in an emotional reactive state, we often regret our behavior and actions later on, after the damage has already been done.
People with low EQ, will tend to shift the blame rather than take responsibility for their own actions.
Sadly, we see low EQ at every level of an organization. When leaders are lacking in EQ, the work environment can quickly become toxic, impacting the journey for all of us.
What goals do you have for companies when it comes to employee experience?
Purpose HQ is a catalyst for change, but for real change to take hold in organizations and society, each of us has to be willing to take a stand, use our collective voice, and hold each other accountable to that higher standard.
Employee Self-Discovery + Empowerment:
As employees become more aware of their own needs, they will be able to advocate for themselves in a positive, solution-oriented manner. And as more employees take steps to empower themselves, we should expect to see their influence reflected in the job environment.
We’d like to see more organizations invest in organizational self-discovery. Culture and values are dynamic and leaders often overlook how far they’ve strayed from their stated culture and values. When organizations lack meaningful values that truly guide behavior and actions, they lack the necessary boundaries to maintain culture and psychological safety.
Authentic Higher Purpose:
The most successful organizations of the future will be places where people are seen as truly human, more alike than we are different, full of potential, and desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. For organizations to unleash new capabilities and discretionary effort they’ll have to make the shift from motivating through self-interest to inspiring through the collective interest of a shared, authentic, higher purpose.
Purpose can be an organizational strategy and roadmap to remain competitive in a fast-changing economy.
Purpose-driven companies have higher productivity and growth rates, along with a more satisfied workforce who stay longer with them.
What opportunities are expected to open up as Purpose HQ changes work cultures?
We are opening up a world of opportunity by letting go of ideas, patterns, and perceptions that used to be so tried and true - but are simply not relevant any longer. The modern world of work is not predicated on what other people expect of us; it’s about what we can expect from ourselves.
Human capital analytics, behavioral and organizational psychology, AI - the combination of disciplines and data is leveling the playing field for formerly overlooked employment candidates and high-risk student populations. We have a scientific shortcut that lets us quickly identify the skill gaps (EQ, Soft Skills, and Technical Skills) that impact workforce and leadership readiness. That awareness let us create actionable, targeted, pathways to meaningful and relevant growth. And you don’t have to take our word for it. It’s measurable and concrete. When you take the guesswork out of personal development and provide clear evidence of growth and success, the question we should be asking is this: Why would any opportunity be off-limits?
Natalie Engledow interviewed by MORE staff. Photography by MORE staff. Purpose HQ has partnered to seek MORE, and we are proud to have partnered with Purpose HQ to create intentional content.