THE BLOG

20
Apr

Free Membership – Interactive Project Advancement Site – Advance My Project

Written by: Shannon Snow

To sign up, visit www.advancemyproject.com and use code Launch 2017 to receive a free Silver Membership for a year!

Snow Consulting Services is excited to announce the launch of Advance My Project, a website designed to help businesses identify their project needs, and connect them directly with peers and vendors for both advice and quotes.

Advance My Project – or AMP – was born out of our direct need to create efficiency within our own company and with our clients. By coming together through an online community to provide quality advice and expertise, we will be able to provide better advice for clients and develop another pipeline to secure leads.

Some of the early features you can expect in AMP are:

  • A community of peers and vendors to discuss projects
  • Assistance developing the scope for a multitude of projects
  • A central library of project advancement resources

The site will be launching in Beta mode soon, and signing up now will allow you to take an active part in creating a product that is designed to increase efficiency in your organization.  Features planned to launch this summer include:

  • RFP and scoping generator
  • Worksheets, questionnaires, vendor lists, and more interactive tools
  • Automatic notifications when a post is created on a topic of interest to you
  • Integration with social media

Meeting Clients’ Needs

The primary reason for development of the site is to provide increased services to our clients. Often, we get calls from organizations that need a small amount of advice. We help them as much as we can, but some of these projects are not large enough to even justify putting a proposal together. As a small company we can’t afford to give all of our services away, and our smaller budgeted clients still need help.  Nobody wins.  This lead us to ask, how can we provide meaningful services to clients on a small scale? AMP will help us solve this by:

  • Creating a guided network of questions and forms, developed by our team and other professionals, to empower clients to find the answers to common questions that are most appropriate to their organization.
  • Connect clients to peers and experts to receive project related advice without requiring them to invest time in a formal meeting.
  • Assist clients with determining what additional services may be needed and help them secure these services through our virtual network of vetted professionals.

Streamlined Business Development

While we love seeing the people in our network, we can’t help but think there has to be a better way. In March, Rachel and I estimate that we had 30 one-on-one meetings. This paid off with several new contracts, but we will not be able to maintain this level of business development and still provide quality support. It is our belief that other vendors have this same problem, and AMP will help improve your prospect pipeline by:

  • Providing project-focused discussions that allows you to identify potential clients in your area and their level of interest before investing time in a business meeting.
  • Allowing you to establish an online relationship with potential new clients that may not have hit your radar otherwise.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you need to spend giving AMP clients “free” advice. As an AMP member, they will have access to a plethora of resources to help them understand what they are asking for before meeting with you.
  • Establishing you as a trusted professional in your field.
  • In the future, AMP will award badges or rankings for our members who contribute the most meaningful content. This will allow you to separate yourself from the competition in a vetted and meaningful way.
  • No fears – if it would hurt your business it would hurt ours so we will be keeping the site positive and productive. We are in this with you, which means that you benefit from the work we are putting in to improve our pipeline development process.

All of this being said, AMP is not intended to be:

  • A replacement for all business development activities. Effective use of AMP should make your face time with prospective clients more meaningful.
  • A relationship builder. You have to build the relationship, we are just giving you a really cool tool to identify the new relationships that need built.

We hope that you are as excited about the launch of AMP as we are, and we invite you to join us in the journey to build a tool that will help all of us be successful. To sign up, visit www.advancemyproject.com and use code Launch 2017 to receive a free Silver Membership for a year!

Shannon Snow is the Principal at Snow Consulting Services. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners who focuses in facilities planning and operational support.  She has over a decade of professional experience and founded Snow Consulting Services in 2016.

31
Mar

The Best Business Start-Up Advice I Received and Some I Wish I Had

Written by: Shannon Snow

I am lucky, when I decided to start my business I was surrounded by nothing but love and support.  Every person I told about my adventure greeted me with excitement, and said they believed I would be successful – every person but one.

I needed to be surrounded with optimism to follow my dream, but I also needed a dose of reality and that came one morning when I asked a businesswoman I admired to coffee in hopes she would give me some advice.  She not only gave me more advice than would fit in a book, she made me face the hard facts and helped prepare me for what was to come.

I’m sharing a few of her most impactful thoughts here in hopes that maybe someone starting a business will give this a read.  Her advice forced me to face the reality of what was coming, and without these thoughts I am sure that I would not have made it through year one as successfully as I did.

Work where you want to go.

During our conversation I remember being bummed because I was opening a specialty consulting business.  The decision to serve Community Colleges meant that there would be travel in my future, and after a career of cushy desk jobs where travel was a treat I was suddenly dreading the need to be on the road.

That’s when the businesswoman I so admired gave me the best advice I have gotten to date, “travel where you want to go.”  Genius! Why didn’t I think of that? If I target schools places that I want to visit I could at least write off part of my expenses if they aren’t included in the contract.  Turn work into a vacation.  Brilliant.

It will be hard.

I doubt anyone goes into this thinking it will be easy.  She informed me that while everyone says it will be hard what she meant is it will be really hard.

She warned me about sleepless nights, worrying about finances, balancing everything that needs to be done.  She warned that I would have less control of my schedule than ever because clients (and a paycheck) will be my priority. Then she looked me in the eye and asked if I was up for this because starting a business takes perseverance and it will test every limit I have.

It will be lonely.

As a sole proprietor, my business is mine and mine alone.  My friend warned that with every perk to this fact comes a drawback.  Until there are employees, there is no team to lean on.  There is nobody to make the tough decisions for you.  There’s no admin to manage your calendar.

You must do all the jobs, not just the stuff you like, and sometimes it’s not at all fun.  Despite all that she warned the worst part is there are no co-workers to share in your joys and frustrations.  It’s all you – all the time.

What I wish someone would have said

Obviously, I thought about these issues and moved forward with my business with a more realistic view – and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Despite all the ups and downs, I have never been happier.  Still, there are a few things that I wish someone would have told me.

The best investment is accountability.

Fairly early on I made the decision to hire Rachel and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.  Hiring her brought a renewed energy into the company, created a team environment, and made work fun again.  It took the loneliness factor away and gave me a reason to work harder because there was a second person who needed a paycheck. I had increased accountability.

Rachel adds more value to the company than I can express, but I often say that even if she didn’t just having her around is worth every penny.  Having her makes me work harder, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a natural born motivator.  Together we can conquer the world.

You might not work that much.

I’m in an industry that does not require me to be at a physical site several hours a week. As long as I take care of my clients and make sure the business is running smoothly, I’m good. However, a major reason I left my job was hours, and coming from a position where I worked 60 hours a week I sometimes feel like I’m slacking.  As a result, I’ve taken to asking other independent consultants how much they work.  Rarely do I get an answer above 35 hours, and most of the time it’s under 30.

That might seem shocking, but here’s the catch.  While I don’t “clock” as many hours as I would for an employer, when I am working I’m hyper-focused.  There are no social breaks, no walking the halls or surfing the internet to kill time. There is no stopping me when I’m in work mode, I’m on a mission to complete the task at hand.  I have never worked this hard in my life, it’s just consolidated.

You never stop working.

I live with a constant worry that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not going to get the next client or that the checks aren’t going to come in.  It is likely that this will never go away, even when the company is hugely successful there will always be jobs to worry about and business to pursue.  The result of this overarching worry is that I never stop working.

I may not be on the clock, but my mind is constantly running. When I can’t sleep because I want to write a blog about the lessons I learned my first year in business at 4am, I just get up and do it.

The best way to get started is to start.

There is tons of advice out there about how to get started, how to write a business plan, do your market research, etc.  My reality is that I did none of this.  I knew in my gut that I was talented and that I had something to offer so I just got out there and did it.

Of course, I would recommend you prepare for your new venture, but what that means to you is different for everyone. It’s easy to overthink these things, especially when your livelihood is at stake. Would you rather live with knowing you gave it your best shot or the regret that comes with never trying?

Shannon Snow is the Principal at Snow Consulting Services. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners who focuses in facilities planning and operational support.  She has over a decade of professional experience and founded Snow Consulting Services in 2016.

21
Mar

Putting First Things First in the Development of a Comprehensive Institutional Advancement Program

Written by: L. Pendleton Armistead, Ed.D.

Clearly, the landscape for American higher education is changing. There are new rules that will greatly impact the scope and functioning of educational institutions to satisfy the demands of their constituencies and local communities. At the same time, never has there been a greater reliance on educational institutions that are dedicated to open access, instructional excellence and relevant curricula that meet changing occupational and workforce demands. These elements are the long-standing cornerstones of the community college.

However, community and technical colleges are experiencing many obstacles impacting their abilities to advance quality programs and services. A significant number of these challenges are directly related to public funding.

To offset this funding dilemma, greater reliance upon the private sector as a legitimate funding partner should be sought. However, in doing so, a systematic or “building-block” approach that will maximize opportunities is required, beginning with a comprehensive evaluation process called a “Resource Development Review (RDR).”

The “RDR” process is designed to gauge the present effectiveness and productivity of a college’s institutional advancement function and provide a “blueprint” for the building of a comprehensive fund-raising program. Further, the process is used to enhance alignment and engagement between a college’s and its affiliated foundation board. Specifically, the RDR is designed to assess the strengths, challenges, and priorities of the college and its foundation and offer recommendations for strategic and deliberate improvement by:

  • Assessing the depth and effectiveness of all institutional advancement functions and foundation programs and services
  • Determining adequacy, skills, and priorities of staffing and the effectiveness of the organizational structure
  • Discerning opportunities in the major gifts, annual campaigns, planned giving programs, targeted campaigns, alumni giving, special events arenas
  • Assessing the infrastructure of the college’s foundation and propose recommendations for growth and engagement
  • Assessing how various internal and external groups view the foundation leadership and its degrees of influence and affluence
  • Developing timelines and benchmarks as a means of measuring success and maintaining accountability
  • Assessing the strategic needs of an organization in relationship with potential private support and corresponding financial levels
  • Providing a comprehensive implementation plan for the college’s resource development program and affiliated foundation

The resulting recommendations form the basis of a prescribed “plan of action” to strengthen the private-sector resource development function for the next five-year period.

In today’s world of economic uncertainty, major adjustments in levels of public support compounded with governing boards’ frequent calls for retrenchment, community and technical colleges must begin to look beyond the public sector to fund their educational missions and visions. College presidents are increasingly becoming reliant on their affiliated foundations to “fill in” the financial gap to support critical needs. These foundations should immediately begin efforts to critically evaluate their readiness and commit to working toward their ultimate goals.  Proactive planning and a review of advancement functions via an in-depth “Resource Development Review” can serve as the initial pathway for many years of growth for the college and, in turn, the community it serves.

L. Pendleton Armistead, Ed.D., as president of the Armistead Group, has over 30 years of consulting experience in a wide array of institutional advancement arenas within the two-year college setting.   As a consultant, he has directed over 50 campaigns, conducted approximately 75 feasibility studies, strategic planning initiatives and development assessments and raised over $650 million in support of community colleges growth and development.

12
Mar

Doing More With Less:  Leveraging Business Partnerships for Educational Success

Written by: Shannon Snow

Recently, Snow Consulting Services was retained by a client to conduct some case studies on how the business community influences education. This client was looking for opportunities to increase the impact of education without requiring additional resources – hence do more with less.

During the process we identified several valuable lessons that can be considered when developing workforce partnerships between industry and education – lessons that we are excited to share with you.

Bright Horizons: Corporate Developed Curriculum

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential has been around for decades, but in 2007 the eCDA program at Bright Horizons University was established.  Much of the curriculum development and delivery systems were created by Bright Horizons through utilization of external consultants and specialists, and then made available to educational partners. Bright Horizons has taken the burden of program development off the service provider and expanded the availability of quality, early childhood development education nationally.

Northampton Community College is Bright Horizon’s preferred educational partner.  They have created a stackable credential leading to an Associate’s degree that recognizes Bright Horizon’s internal training, allowing them to deliver online education to Bright Horizon’s employees nationally.

Lessons:

  • Industry driven and developed programming can be adapted to educational credentials.
  • Letting industry lead streamlines the development of skills-based curriculum.
  • Businesses can standardize curriculum nationally, utilizing their network to create educational standards.

Western Association of Food Chains: Workforce Based Competency Identification

Retail leaders shared a concern over lacking skills in the current workforce.  They recognized a need for increased education for management level employees.  As a group, with the help of an industrial psychologist, they developed the core competencies essential for success as a manager in the retail space.

This group reached out to local community colleges to partner in the creation of an online curriculum for the Retail Management Certificate.  A different model, the group partners with colleges nationally instead of one preferred educational provider.  Their commitment to excellence and career advancement led to industry changes.

Lessons:

  • Industry can lead by identifying competencies and leaning on educational providers for coursework development.
  • Valuing educational credentials can lead to an expectation of better skills within industry.

Health Careers Collaborative or Greater Cincinnati (HCC): Employer Support Equals Student Success

HCC was developed under the umbrellas of Partners for a Competitive Workforce, an effort of the Greater Cincinnati workforce network that brings all the area’s workforce initiatives together. HCC developed partnerships, that serve frontline incumbent workers from area hospitals along with jobseekers and unemployed/underemployed individuals.

Employer commitment and flexibility are key to the success of this program. Participants enjoy flexible work hours, funding and pre- payment options, support services such as childcare and transportation are provided, credits are transferable between institutions and more.  Developmental education is also provided to participants if needed.

Lessons:

  • Marrying workforce development efforts, employer needs, and educational initiatives can have a powerful impact when all partners are invested in the success of the program.
  • Employer engagement and willingness to establish a flexible work environment allow more individuals to access training.
  • Understanding of needs for developmental education in addition to industry required credentials increases student success.

Shannon Snow is the Principal at Snow Consulting Services. She is a licensed City Planner who focuses in facilities planning and operational support.  She has over a decade of professional experieEnce and founded Snow Consulting Services in 2016.

10
Mar

More With Less: Do Personal Choices Impact Professional Outcomes?

Written by: Rachel Murdoch

Last time I checked, no one is raising their hand for an opportunity to do more with less. There are a lot of catch phrases and words that come to mind for me when I think about being required to do more with less. Here are a few:

  • Tightening the belt.
  • Up-cycling.
  • Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.
  • “Getting creative.”
  • Thinking outside the box.
  • Prioritization.

When our circumstances shift, suddenly we are forced (challenged) to look at our lives differently. We receive an opportunity to navigate new realities. Perhaps we have to loosen our grip on some of the things we once felt were non-negotiable.

Often times, major players shift, resources are allocated differently and a new landscape emerges, requiring us to create a new map!

Personal Choices:

I feel certain of this: the way we inhabit this new (more pressed) space has a lot to do with who we are.

It is easy to think that our personal and professional lives are separate and have no relationship with one another. Certainly, it is good to have a good work/life balance and to have boundaries around our personal and professional lives. However, I do think that our personal lives have more bearing on our professional lives than we think.

We are not robots. We are humans. Our choices don’t happen in a box! They are real & dynamic, impacting other areas of our lives—maybe even our professional lives!

More With Less: A Personal Story

Situation: The Freezer

My refrigerator freezer is FULL.

My deep freezer is FULL!

AND>>>I still go to the grocery store to buy MORE!

It’s a situation…I promise it is!

We are full and we are still filling!

Let me personalize this a bit. I am full…and I am still filling!

Consequently, one of the things I have become determined to do is EAT FROM MY FREEZER. Obviously there are a few fresh items that need to be purchased to fill in the missing ingredients, but for peat sake>>>there are 365 versions of dinner waiting to be created from the ingredients I already have!

>>>>>MORE meals with LESS trips to the store!

The end result is, more money in my pocket and a more wise use of available resources!

Professional Outcomes: Impact

When we shift our thinking and practice in one arena of life and experience success and positive benefits, we become more likely to do the same in other areas of life as well.

This has certainly been true for me. Across the board I am learning to do more with less.

In my work at Snow Consulting Services I have a limit number of hours in a week with which to move projects forward. Thus, my personal time limits and constraints have given me an opportunity to grow in my capacity to accomplish more in less time.

I am excited about this movement, as the opportunities are endless and my leadership tools are sharpened as I become a willing participant in the school of MORE WITH LESS.

Question(s):

  • What is one area of your personal life where you can do more with less?
  • What is the potential impact of this personal choice on your professional outcomes?

Rachel Murdoch is a Project Facilitator with Snow Consulting Services.  She has extensive experience in Student Services, including housing and student compliance.  She has worked nationally, and brings her professional network and vast expertise to Snow Consulting to represent the Program Focus area with our clients. 

02
Mar

Doing More With Less: Staff Development to Increase Effectiveness

Written by: Tracy Dunn

As today’s workforce continues to age, the demand for replenishing the pool of workers grows and it is not just about filling a schedule.  In recent years, the workplace has seen an increased demand for professional healthcare positions such as nursing, allied health and even physicians.

Years ago, a health system I worked for experimented with the concept of “patient centered care.” In this model, many extra professionals were needed to fill specific discipline areas of the hospital.  The idea was to give the patient and their families consistent, excellent care by providing a team of professionals to be involved in their care from admission to discharge.  These teams consisted of a nurse, a respiratory therapist and a care tech.  Teams were placed in various parts of the hospital but especially in the critical care areas.  While the concept certainly had its merits regarding consistency of care, ultimately it was not sustainable.

The most obvious issue was monetary resources. The increased need for professional staff to cover all shifts elevated the amount of salaries and benefits provided.  The less obvious was what was happening to the current workforce.  As staff were assigned to specific areas, development of staff and skill levels began to dwindle.  This led to a lack of experience by limiting staff development to specific area and in turn specific skill sets.  For example, a respiratory therapist in the critical care areas would develop ventilator skills and critical reasoning skills.

Most of the seasoned, more experienced staff were placed in the critical care areas.  The less experienced staff remained in various areas of the hospital such as telemetry, med surgery etc.  Overtime, it became clear that lack of workforce development resulted in decreased experience, lack of critical reasoning and crucial skill deficits.

Skilled professionals need continued development.  This is true no matter the industry.  They require mentorship from their older more experienced co-workers.  In a hospital environment, exposure to working in multiple levels of care is important for the newer worker to gain experience.  It diversifies their skill repertoire and increases their confidence in their clinical skills.  Without diversity of skills, workers learn only their assigned area and are left unchallenged to learn and grow professionally.

In this case, reduction of staff ultimately occurred.  These were done with consideration to cost center and then by seniority.  Many talented healthcare staff were laid off.  What remained was an inexperienced staff, lacking in diverse skills and few senior staff members to mentor and develop staff.  Further complications ensued as an aging workforce began to retire.  Today, an urgent need for skilled clinicians is on the rise in an economy trying to more with less.

Discovering new sustainable methods for delivering patient care will always be best practice.  The challenge is to develop the workforce once acquired.  Mentorship and continuing education are crucial for maintaining a diversely skilled workforce.  Develop the skill and compassion of the clinician and it is the patient and the employer that will benefit.

Tracy Dunn is a Project Facilitator with Snow Consulting Services.  She has extensive experience in healthcare management and sales, and assists our clients with developing sustainable business practices. 

 

23
Feb

Doing More With Less: Missouri Colleges Partnering to Meet Workforce Needs

   Written by: Rob Dixon

More than ever before, Missouri’s businesses demand a skilled, ready workforce.  Our economic development strategies have responded accordingly, but there has not been a similar refocusing in workforce development.  Substantial disruptions are already underway in the workforce due to many factors, causing serious concern among business about the quality and quantity of Missouri’s workforce. How our state addresses this issue now will directly determine our economic trajectory over the next generation.

Workforce development is often cited as one of the most important factors in business expansion and relocation decisions, but it can also be one of the most complicated and least resourced areas within the broader economic development process.  Over the last decade and a half, Missouri has dramatically reduced funding for its core workforce development programs.  

A confounding number of programs – federal, state, and local – intertwine to create our workforce development system.  Rather than a coherent effort to simply and strategically provide the workforce that grows our state’s economy, Missouri’s employers face a web of confusing programs and agencies.  

The number of agencies that comprise this web is seemingly endless: local and state workforce investment boards, career centers, local education agencies, multiple state and federal bureaucracies, proprietary technical schools, universities, and community colleges, among many others.  As a result, employers are confused about where and how to access the training resources they need to fuel their growth.  There is no single point of entry to help a business navigate through the complexity.  

Missouri’s workforce development process must be streamlined. We must improve the ease of access for businesses, improve the customer service and flexibility of the programs, and provide additional funding for workforce training to keep Missouri competitive with other states.  

As local entities, community colleges work with their local economic development organizations to assist with training programs for business attraction, retention, and expansion projects.  Due to the capacity of both the community college and the local economic development organizations, however, this process varies greatly across the state.  

By breaking down a number of procedural barriers and working as a consortium, Missouri’s community colleges can provide a nimble, single point of access with a solid customer-service orientation that aligns our workforce development system directly with our economic development efforts.

A consortium of all of Missouri’s community colleges, working together, can break down geographic boundaries, provide a single point of access, and help provide relevant information to win more deals for our state.  As a result, firms have the ability to access and leverage resources by engaging with a single point of contact.  

Community colleges will serve every square inch of Missouri, even if the local college is not the primary training provider on a project within its own region.  Our network allows community colleges to break down geographic boundaries by working together to serve the business’s needs.  

Rob Dixon is the President and CEO of the Missouri Community College Association. Previously he served as executive vice president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Hollister Area Chamber of Commerce. Dixon has a master’s degree in public administration from Missouri State University. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis, and his associate degree from St. Charles Community College. Prior to that, he served during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, as a communications intelligence intercept operator and analyst in the Marine Corps.

15
Feb

Insights: What to Expect from Snow’s Blog

Written by:  Shannon Snow, AICP

Thank you all for your continued support of Snow Consulting Services.  I hope you have enjoyed getting to know our company and our team over the last month. While it has been fun sharing with you who we are, we are most excited to share what we do, and this is why the Snow Consulting Services blog was launched.

Our dream is that this blog becomes a hub for quality content for our clients and target industries.  Some of the features launching in February are discussed in the remainder of this post.  If there is a feature you would like to see, or if you would like to guest blog, we would love to hear from you!

Industry Trends Information

The first feature you will get to experience is industry trend information, brought to you from the source.  Each month Snow will feature a guest blogger who has blazed an innovative path in their industry, they will share tips, tricks, and secrets about how they achieved project success.  The guest bloggers will provide the topics that will lead to…

Focused Conversation

Each month we are going to take a deep dive into one pressing topic in the industries we serve, a topic selected in conjunction with our guest blogger who will provide an outside perspective.  We will leverage our broad experience and multiple viewpoints to express how these topics impact multiple areas of your organization.

E-Newsletter

Each month, these perspectives will be consolidated into an e-newsletter, bringing our expertise to your inbox.  This will make the content more accessible and allow our users to share our quality content with others who value our perspective.  To sign up for the e-newsletter, please contact shannon@snowconsultingservices.com.

Shannon Snow is the Principal at Snow Consulting Services. She is a licensed City Planner who focuses in facilities planning and operational support.  She has over a decade of professional experieEnce and founded Snow Consulting Services in 2016.

25
Jan

In Focus: Community

Written by: Ted Stilwill

Shannon has already mentioned in her introductory blog that Snow Consulting occupies the “middle space” between the initial visioning that drives project planning and the actual execution of the project.  As a team, we are also committed to three critical issues that drive our work in that middle space.  We know that we will have to know about the details that shape our client’s program direction as well as the client’s philosophy and strategies for operations.  But we also believe that we have to gain a third important client perspective.  We call it community, and it is our client’s grounded commitment to the stakeholders that they ultimately serve.  I would like to single out that community perspective for comment today and we will take up other perspectives in future posts.

For educational institutions, community is where they hope to have both immediate and long-range impactFor a non-profit or early childhood provider, community may be the families in a neighborhood. For a school district it may be the district’s students and their families.  For community colleges, their impact directly affects students as well as the economic potential of the region.  In my personal experience, the strength and effectiveness of the community connection is the most critical factor for achieving success in education.  The community connection means that the educational institution has data, stories and relationships that help them to understand and connect with their community.

We help clients nurture that unique community focus and establish important partnerships whatever their community, because an effective educational organization has a truly symbiotic relationship with its community.  Snow Consulting is committed to using both objective data and personal perspectives from the client and from community to help guide the success of any project.

Ted Stilwill is a Senior Project Facilitator with Snow Consulting Services. He has worked in education at the local, state and national level.  He most recently headed the Learning Community in Omaha, Nebraska.

18
Jan

In Focus: Programming

Written by: Rachel Murdoch 

My name is Rachel Murdoch. I am a mom of a precious 2-year old girl and I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I am originally from Sioux City, Iowa but have not lived in the Midwest since I left for college quite a few years ago. My pursuit of education, adventure and professional development took me to Minneapolis, MN; Suzaka, Japan; Los Angeles, CA; Anchorage, AK; and most recently to Omaha, NE. In December of 2014 I took some time away from the workplace to be a mom and regroup after such a big life transition.

However in August of 2016, the stars lined up and a mutual friend introduced me to Shannon Snow of Snow Consulting Services. The first time I met Shannon we talked through my resume and she shared contacts and leads for me to follow up on, so that I could re-enter the workforce. Shortly after, Shannon approached me and asked if I would be willing to join her team part time on a project basis. Though I did not anticipate this development, I am thankful to be working with such a passionate, caring and skilled group of individuals. Shannon is one of the most genuinely kind, generous, talented and supportive leaders I know and it is truly an honor to be a member of the Snow Consulting Team.

Rachel’s Story

My professional life has been focused on the programming side of the college, university and life. Much of my time has been spent finding creative ways to teach and foster learning outside the classroom. As a Student Development practitioner and a life long learner, I deeply want students and individuals to understand there are opportunities for learning embedded in all areas of their lives, even outside the classroom. Yet I am convinced that learning doesn’t just HAPPEN. As leaders and educators a high degree of intentionality is required to prepare learning environments to ensure they are ripe for learning.

As administrators, it is our responsibility to name the things we hope for our students/clients to receive so that we can measure success and if necessary adjust our direction going forward. As the Director of Residence Life at Biola University I was a part of the leadership team that established program objectives, learning outcomes, assessment and evaluation standards for students within the residential housing community. Each year, one of my favorite things was reviewing the creative programs students and staff planned throughout the semester, identifying evidence of learning, providing feedback and celebrating successes!

Programming Focus Area

I help lead the Programming Focus at Snow Consulting, these efforts evaluate the delivery of services intended to meet the needs of students or clients. They evaluate what services are being delivered and modifications that need to be made to the client-facing product in order to achieve goals.  Snow supports these efforts through our main services; Project Facilitation, Report Generation, and Advisory Services.

Programming Focused projects often have a very narrow scope, focused on solving an individual problem within the organization. Projects developed in the Program Focus usually require the involvement of people with detailed knowledge about the delivery of services and the population they’re trying to impact. As a result, these projects often get stereotyped as being siloed.

Strategies developed in the Program Focus area may result in a need to evaluate organizational priorities and shift resources to achieve goals. Some of the projects organizations my chose to complete that have a Programming Focus include:

  • Program Development or Academic Plan
  • Housing Study
  • Academic or Program Assessment
  • Student Services Compliance

The Programming Focus is important because it supports other areas by exploring how goals identified in the Community and Operations Focus areas can be achieved.

An Environmental Scan is typically approached with a Community Focus and may identify a specific workforce need. The Programming Focus will help identify the specific activities that are currently being done to meet this need, and inform strategies around how to promote these services or develop new ones.

Snow Consulting Services has the ability to navigate these complex dynamics and relationships between focus areas to help ensure community-responsive and operationally sustainable programs are developed. In my book, this is a recipe for success!

Rachel Murdoch is a Project Facilitator with Snow Consulting Services.  She has extensive experience in Student Services, including housing and student compliance.  She has worked nationally, and brings her professional network and vast expertise to Snow Consulting to represent the Program Focus area with our clients.