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Omaha Magazine

Susan Henricks

May 05, 2017 07:00AM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
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With decades of leadership experience at private and public companies—including First Data Corp. and RR Donnelley Corp. —Susan Henricks had established herself as a business leader on a global scale.

Then she began to contemplate how she could further encourage future generations of leaders. That’s when she joined the board of the Omaha-based Institute for Career Advancement Needs. ICAN named her CEO a few years later in May 2014, and Henricks hasn’t looked back.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing, because I have the opportunity to take what I learned over a 35-plus year career in various corporations and share that with others,” she says. “The one thing I was always passionate about was developing people. So, now I have an opportunity to do that in a broader way.”

ICAN provides leader development programs, custom services and events with a focus on developing inspired and authentic leaders who transform their organizations. The programs were originally created to advance women in business when ICAN was founded in 1981, but the growth of the organization now caters to all leaders in the workplace.

ICAN programs include Defining Leadership, Women’s Leadership Circles, the Speaker Series, 7x7x7, EVOLVE and a recently developed for-credit program called IMPACT. This new eight session, five month program builds leaders who manage higher performing teams with stronger strategic influence.

The largest event ICAN produces is the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, which draws 2,500+ attendees. This one-day insightful and intensive focus on leadership provides access to national thought leaders and leadership trends and transformations present in today’s workplace.

One important concept for women in the business world is balancing work and home, or as Henricks says “the work-life challenge.” ICAN’s 24th Annual conference will address this theme in 2017.

“This topic is really resonating with a lot of the organizations that send people to our conference,” Henricks says. “We purposefully did not use the word ‘balance’ because it implies that one can achieve balance when in reality true balance is not really achievable.”

How different generations and age cohorts look at the “work-life challenge” varies, says Henricks.

“Historically, work life challenges have been the responsibility of the woman. This has now changed to also include Corporate Organizations, Men and Millennials. For example: from a man’s perspective with elderly parents or young children,” she says. “Men want to participate more in their lives and are looking for more flexible work schedules. We’re also going to look at the work/life challenge from the standpoint of millennials. They want to do something they are passionate about. Unlike baby boomers who worked 12 hour days and didn’t have time for passion projects until retirement, millennials are saying, ‘I want to work, I want to work hard, but I also want my time.’ That’s a very different work structure.”

Whatever the generation, whatever the reasons for wanting to approach the work life challenge, Henricks and her team are making sure to provide guidance and assistance to both businesswomen and their organizations.

“In a lot of our programs, we focus on helping women and men develop their leadership voice, grow in their confidence, and their interrelational skills,” she says. “We are taking a specific role in that effort by creating active leaders who have the capacity to advance authenticity and intention in the workplace, and get more women in senior leadership.”

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