6 Questions for IPM CEO Sheila McIlnay

Q: Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5-10 years?

Sheila McIlnay:  With the economy becoming more fluid (read-unpredictable) both nationally and globally  and with the introduction of more management  technology,  I believe that workforces will shift from  expertise and high level skill sets being held mainly by traditional employees  to more of a flexible and on demand workforce ,i.e. contingent labor.  In these rapidly changing geo-political economies whole corporations and entire industries are finding that to effectively compete they must be able to nimbly react with a workforce that is flexible and willing to adapt quickly. The constant change and introduction of new technology also requires that businesses understand that their workforces must be constantly evolving as well.  A contingent workforce can be critical to helping businesses meet these challenges.

Q: You built IPM from the ground up 25 years ago. What’s the secret to staying relevant and ensuring long-term success?

Sheila McIlnay: Staying relevant is a relative concept, depending of course on many factors; the economy, laws, regulations, technology, industry needs, and politics to name just a few. However, in order to not only be relevant but be a leader in what matters, it is important to be open to new concepts and technologies.  That sounds easy, but it is really difficult at times, to measure and judge the way things have been done against what are perceived as the emerging needs in an always changing landscape of the future.  I find that listening to my employees and my business partners, asking questions and being willing to answer the hard questions myself are the only ways to have a chance to “see around the corner” and be prepared for what is coming.

Q: Tell me something about IPM that others may not know?

SM:  Having headquarters in Houston Texas, we are used to and prepared for hurricanes and other challenging weather, but, in 2008 the area was hit by Hurricane Ike and massive closures and flooding, which followed Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 which also crippled the city and surrounding environs.  Recently, the area experienced flooding on Memorial Day weekend 2015; also resulting in closures and extensive and lengthy power outages.  Even more recent is the flooding this spring of 20016.  Why is this relevant to IPM?  In all of those instances, despite road closures, crippled businesses and communications, IPM never missed or was late on a payroll. During Ike, our COO and VP of Resource Management carried a server down four flights of stairs in the dark (via headlamps for safety) and through a flooded parking lot so as to make sure that no sensitive documentation risked compromise and no payroll was late.  Many larger companies cannot make such a claim.  It takes more than a massive hurricane and torrential rains and flooding to keep us down.

Q: What separates IPM from the rest?

Sheila McIlnay:We understand and operate under the belief and business model that people  are not a commodity, that individual people often have challenges that not only do not hold them back but make them stronger and more valuable contributors to whatever organization  they belong to or work within.

Q:What words of advice do you have for female entrepreneurs who are trying to get their business off the ground? 

Sheila McIlnay: Learn to take advantage of mentors and resources that are there to guide, to help meet challenges and advise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; to ask questions, to be wrong and to take measured risks.

Q: What do you do for fun (besides making your staff laugh)?

Sheila McIlnay: I go to festivals. All kinds of festivals from renaissance festivals, to mosquito, to strawberry to international festivals – anywhere where people happily gather to share in and promote precious cultures, art forms, music and all sorts of other respected and beloved traditions.  And depending on the circumstances, spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren, can be very entertaining, if not outright hilarious.

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