Unleashing Your Company’s Potential Through Intentional Development


The RESOLVE conference was back in person in April of 2022 as First Person Advisors welcomed super-human resource leaders to the NCAA Hall of Champions in downtown Indianapolis. In a series of three exciting keynotes and eight breakout sessions, leaders discussed challenges faced in the competitive talent market. Get your summaries in blog form, full presentation slide and video recordings.

Jason Riley of GE Healthcare wrapped up the conference with energy when he took the stage at RESOLVE 2022 to discuss one of his favorite topics – intentional development. Jason’s presentation was part education and part inspiration. A summary of his talk is below. Gain access to the full video playback and resources on our RESOLVE 2022 page.

What is your path?

Jason began with a focus on the individual and borrowed from his own experience in establishing his first job. He asked, “Do you have a path? Are you helping others build a path? Or, are you taking things as they come, perhaps waiting for a break?” He noted that many of us operate in the latter – a more haphazard approach. Intentional development is the antidote. He asked this simple question using college as an example:

Are you on the seven-year party-package plan?

If you don’t understand this phrasing, let’s rewind to Jason’s college days. He was a computer science major at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He picked a major and knew what he wanted to do. In that regard, he was intentional. He had a lot of classmates who were not intentional, they switched majors, found themselves adrift and all of a sudden five or six years had gone by, and they were no closer to knowing their path after college. At least he had a major. 

However, he was young and naive. He admits that he didn’t think much past the urgency of the day – making sure tuition was paid, relieving stress by playing Madden with roommates, etcetera. Then, everything changed. He got an opportunity to interview for an internship at Eli Lilly, one of the largest global pharmaceutical companies in the world. And, Jason almost missed it.

“I was so caught up in my own thing. My professor caught me in the hallway and told me they had an extra spot. I said I might look into it. I was distracted. That day, I was fortunate. I had a good friend who (not literally) slapped me for standing there holding a Nintendo controller in my hand back at our apartment instead of getting prepared for that interview.” Jason reminded us to listen to that friend. “I went back to the Computer Science building, got that interview, and scored that internship.” 

Get good people in your life

Getting that internship at Eli Lilly was pivotal for Jason. First, it was a great job at a fantastic company with great people. Second, this job was the formation of his professional philosophy. “I never forgot the professors who placed the internship before me and invited me to participate. And the friend who made sure I took that interview. I also never forgot how much I enjoyed the interview process. Nailing that first internship interview was, for me, prophetic.” 

At Lilly, Jason became an on-campus recruiter within his department. “I loved it, was good at it, and I thrived. I had found my niche. I became an HR Associate at Lilly after four years in a technical role with recruiting on the side. Along the way, I always found good people. I found some bad people – we all do – but I gravitated to the good.” You might be thinking Jason was talking about mentors and mentorships. You might have even been encouraged to “go get a mentor.”  

I’m talking about sponsorship

It’s not mentorship that’s been the most meaningful to Jason. It’s sponsorship. Meaning finding someone who spends time with you, is invested in your career, and will vouch for you. A sponsor should be an executive, likely at the table when your company is looking for someone to fill a particular role. It’s your sponsor who will speak up for you. Who will say, “Hey, Jason is capable! I think he’s ready for this type of challenge.” The one who holds you accountable. 

Does sponsorship matter to employees in general? Jason cites the example of GE Healthcare, who surveyed employees to understand how they were defining career growth. “Promotion” beat out “learning curriculum and training” and “coaching”. Promotion or advancement matters. “A sponsor can facilitate that,” Jason noted. “A mentor might not have that critical lever in mind or even possess the ability to impact the employee’s promotion. Even if you have everything else in place, the ones who can influence your trajectory might have no way of knowing about you if you don’t have sponsorship.”

Intentional development

Jason told a story of a great colleague he met along the way – Dave Kinard, VP of HR at Eli Lilly. He described Dave’s promotion calculation this way. 

Promotion = (Performance + Potential + Opportunities + Sponsorship)/Competition

This equation dovetails with another graphic – a matrix that offers a more sophisticated look at intentional development. “It’s not enough to just want the job,” Jason noted. “Or to be capable or full of potential. Intentional Development provides a way of ensuring a better fit.” It’s a way to reflect on your wants, your capabilities, what’s legitimately available, and where you find your happiness or harmony.





So what’s essential in the life of employees at my employer GE Healthcare? “We work with data. The number one reason top talent at GE Healthcare referenced as a reason to stay or leave was not ‘work/life flexibility,’ ‘compensation,’ or ‘career development.’ It was the ‘ability to drive impact.’ How does that happen? It requires leadership.” 

Jason offered another visual – this one of good leadership. “What” on the Y-axis and “How” on the X-axis. The top left of the matrix is an inspirational guy who is high on the “what” but not the “how.” However, the inspirational guy leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake without the “how.” It’s chaos. The guy on the bottom right is high on the “how” but low on the “what.” He works hard but doesn’t transmit a clear purpose. He doesn’t show enough on the “what.”

Get more specific on the hows and whats

Here’s an example of that simple matrix blown out and tailored to a particular role with specifics on roles, behaviors, skills, and forward projection.

Jason said, “we’ve made it our HR mission to act on the hows and whys of our employees. Layered onto Total Rewards is People, Performance & Growth (PPG). This includes Talent Review and Culture. Our People Cycle has dates and actions attached to every element. Following this cycle produced year-over-year participation rates that have steadily grown.” He added that compared to the GE portfolio, GE Healthcare ratings are significantly higher on perceptions of opportunities for the future, growth, and career advancement. 

Bottom line from Jason Riley

Remember these takeaways. 

  1. Get off the bench and win the diversity game
  2. Add more intentionality to your Talent Strategy (teachable points of view, “the how”) 
  3. Prove what’s working and challenge what isn’t 
  4. Be bold/keep it real

Watch the video discussion or view the slides.

See more RESOLVE sessions.

Jason Riley is the Head of Global Talent Strategy, Management and Development at GE Healthcare. 

Bryan Brenner is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of First Person Advisors, a subsidiary of NFP.

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