Wendie Preiss spent years working for large companies but pondered starting her own consulting business for two years. Finally, a potential client convinced her to take the plunge and Blazing Trails Change Management, LLC was officially created. Preiss looks to help businesses and non-profit organizations in three areas – change management, training, and data analytics. Preiss and her husband have been married for 23 years and have two children, Victor and Theo who are 14 and 9 respectively. The family has lived in Lowell for almost five years.
The Path to Blazing Trails
Preiss notes it took her two years to blaze a new trail for herself saying “Starting a new business was scary, especially after working for large companies for 20 years.” Her new business was formed on December 14, 2018. The name of the business was selected in part due to a love of trails. Preiss and her husband are involved with the Western Michigan Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. The pair often serve as ambassadors representing the trail at events in the Lowell community such as the Lowell Expo and Health Expo.
Prior to the start of her own business, Preiss had a 15-year career at Amway. She began as a chemical engineer and was in management when she left the company. “While in management, I consistently blazed new trails for my functions, implementing new ideas and emphasizing employee engagement.” she recalls. Citing a three and a half-year assignment in Japan as the highlight of her career with Amway, Preiss was the first female manager over R&D in Japan. Her time there was spent developing people, improving business processes, and influencing others to accept change.
Two years after returning to the US Preiss resigned from Amway in order to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Resources on a full-time basis. While part of the Master’s program, Preiss worked with a non-profit in Lansing that supports people with a criminal offense who return to the workforce. In her role with the organization, she provided operations support to the program director and training to clients. Additionally, she supported Michigan State University’s consulting program on a part-time basis.
Through education and experience while obtaining her degree, Preiss determined how she would best serve future clients. The three focus areas her business provides are change management, training, and data analytics. Clients can seek help in any combination of these areas.
Through change management, Preiss will work with clients to determine where their organization is, where they want it to be, and how to achieve future goals. By facilitating focus groups, coaching leadership, and building/facilitating cross-functional teams, all those involved will gain an overview of business or organization goals and how individuals fit into its achievement.
There are often different cultures, such as marketing compared to finance, within businesses. Blazing Trails Change Management will offer workshops in Cultural Intelligence and Unconscious Bias to improve communication and create a welcoming environment. Team building workshops are also available.
Finally, through analyzing data, Preiss will look for useful trends. She provides an example of how through analysis of 60,000 employees, she found they were three times more likely to remain with the company where they worked when they received one formal recognition in a 12-month period. This recognition was made via electronic thank you card – no money. Reviewing data to make it usable can easily enhance various aspects of running a business.
Helping Others Blaze Trails
Preiss will work with individual businesses and organizations to come up with a cost based on the services needed and location. “Most services are best quoted on a case-by-case basis because the needs and approach are unique for each client.” she says. Lowell businesses and non-profit organizations will be offered a discount. An example of pricing provided was a Cultural Competence workshop might cost $3,000-$4,000 before any discount is applied.
Businesses and organizations where new leadership is in place or who are tired of the status quo might be interested in hiring Preiss. Perhaps competition from other businesses brings up questions of remaining viable. Blazing Trails Change Management can help refocus a business without losing core values.
Other clients may seek help in exploring an organizational issue for which currently management does not have time to address. Preiss can help leadership focus on issues and offer solutions while day-to-day operations continue. And others may feel data is being underutilized. Data is often collected by way of employee surveys, monthly sales, number of clients served, and more, however there is often not the time to analyze what is collected and use it to further business missions. Preiss looks to make data “actionable rather than just reportable”.
Still other businesses and organizations wish to create a welcoming environment for employees. Training and guidance can be provided where individual employee uniqueness can be used to harness ideas and bolster productivity.
Pairing the roles of chemical engineer and human resource professional, Preiss believes she brings the best of both worlds together with an “emphasis on employee experience and development through data-driven, fact-based actions.” She strives to create a quality experience and offer tangible advice to clients. Those who are interested in learning more about Blazing Trails Change Management, LLC can visit their website.
Photos provided by Wendie Preiss and used with permission.