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| 22 minutes read

CMO Series EP80 - Anna Hedgepeth of Cranfill Sumner on her personal story about leading change management within a legal BD and marketing team

Marketing and business development professionals are often considered change agents. Shifts in technologies and industries present exciting, new opportunities. Managing those, alongside the personal changes that team members experience, is a skill marketing leaders will need to hone for long-term success.

On today’s episode of the CMO Series, Alistair Bone is lucky to welcome someone well-versed in change management. Anna Hedgepeth, Director of Business Development at Cranfill Sumner, is here to tell us about her personal experiences in managing change and how those experiences have positively impacted and influenced her work at the firm.

Ali and Anna discuss: 

  • Pivotal moments in Anna’s career and personal life that influenced her role at Cranfill Sumner
  • The point at which Anna realised how critical change management is when it comes to leading and developing a legal BD and marketing function
  • The challenges Anna faced personally, such as coming back from maternity leave
  • How managing her changes differed from managing the changes facing other team members and the processes needed to support those
  • Why the SAW program was developed to gamify BD activities across practice areas and how Anna’s change management experience has influenced the marketing and BD efforts at the firm
  • Advice for other BD and marketing leaders looking to implement change in their firm


Intro: Welcome to the Passle CMO series

Ali: Welcome to the CMO series where we discuss all things marketing and business development in the world of professional services marketing. Business development professionals within law firms are often considered change agents and technologies, industries and strategies continually present opportunities for change, but managing those shifts can also bring challenges.

We're lucky to welcome someone well-versed in change management on this episode of the CMO series, Anna Hedgepeth, Director of Business Development at Cranfill Sumner to tell us about her personal experiences of managing change and how those experiences have positively impacted and influenced her work at the firm. Anna, welcome.

Anna: Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Ali: My absolute pleasure. We are very excited to have you on. And I know from the conversations we've had leading to this point that it's going to be a very special episode today, I believe.

Anna: Well it's a treat and I have to tell you, I've been listening to your previous guests and I'm just so humbled to be here, so really excited to chat and to learn and to keep listening.

Ali: Fantastic news and always nice to hear that you had listened to a couple of the previous episodes Anyway,without further ado, I'd love to get into it. Anna, there's been some real pivotal moments both in your career and in your personal life that have influenced your role.

Do you think you could please stop by telling our listeners about your journey to your current role at Cranfill Sumner?

Anna: So you know, I think the same when they talk about how you know, nothing is ever linear. There's lots of, you know, wiggles way or another. I'm gonna start, I kind of want to give some background just when I graduated college here in the United States,

I went to Chapel Hill. I graduated with a degree in psychology and I tell people that because I actually think it's probably one of the most helpful degrees I have and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I went from there. I got a job and internship and I did public relations, Media relations, Crisis Communication and I billed by the hour and I acquired clients and I share that just because I think it was extremely, it's been helpful and where I am now, I did that for four years. And then I got to this point, I was like, you know, where do I go from here?

I kind of always had graduate school on the horizon and was trying to decide where, you know, what do I want to be when I grow up still. And I decided to go to law school. I come from a family of a lot of women attorneys. Went to law school. I actually served as a summer clerk at my firm in a non-traditional role. They were looking to build out their marketing and BD team and they wanted someone there with a JD. So I went and I jokingly tell people I had about 100 interviews for the job because that summer my job was to get everyone at our firm on LinkedIn. So I just went door to door and got people on LinkedIn. When I was in law school, I was also really involved in student government and I worked a lot with leadership at the school and I share that to say it also helped because I do that in my current job. So I officially started at the firm at Cranfill Sumner in the fall of 2013.

As a licensed attorney in a nontraditional role and I failed the bar exam. And there's nothing like telling your boss and managing partner the very first day you start work that you have failed and asking if you can still keep your job, I'm very thankful they let me keep it. Our managing partner at the time, he told me, he said some of the best attorneys he knows failed the bar the first time, so go pass it and come back.

I share that as an aside for listeners because my career started off with a failure and we always learned a lot from failure. So I did pass the bar went on and got married and got pregnant and had my first child in 2015. You know, I just thought the world was great and my boss came and brought me lunch that day and told me she was going on to a new role. So my boss quit while I was on maternity leave, I wasn't really sure where things stood with me and then the firm called and they said hey we're going to offer you her job. I was extremely humbled. Again I have been working really hard to prove I wasn't a failure in the 2.5 years I've been there and I officially became the Director of Development in January of 2016.

So it was three years out of law school. Really big job, new department at our firm, I knew I was, I didn't have the experience that most people in that role did. And I wanted to do something impactful. So one of the things the firm agreed to when I took on this role was I actually worked with a coach T Hoffman of Law Strategy corp for that year and a few things I realised I needed from a visionary standpoint where a CRM system, email marketing system. And then I wanted to do a really impactful program that would kind of start leading the I guess like change or kind of creating that culture of BD. Which was called SAW. I also took my first stab at strategic planning that year. We did some strategic planning meetings and I wouldn't say that strategic planning got off the ground, but we did get our core values established. So if you'll just humour me, I'll walk you through the rest. So in 2017, I had my second child, a sweet baby girl. And I called this the high-five maternity leave because my colleague at the time also got pregnant and had her child about five days after I returned from maternity leave. But this was like our high five, like I was coming in from maternity leave and she was leaving and that taught me a lot of lessons about how important you had to have processes in place. That colleague went on to step away from practice to stay home with her kids. And in 2018 I hired our current events and marketing manager with the vision for doing webinars and she came from the professional services industries and just brought a ton of experience and something I knew nothing about. So you know what do they say surround yourself with people way smarter than you. And so things were kind of just hobbling along. And then in 2019, sad sad tip to anyone listening, if you ever picking a speaker for an event at your firm, make sure you vetted them well you've heard them speak or watch their youtube videos. I did not do that one year and regretted it ever since.

So I was looking for a speaker that year. And I was looking at a gentleman from Bell Leadership Institute and I'd ask them for videos and transcripts and they said, hey,

why don't you just come and hear him present? And they were doing a program in Chapel Hill, which is about 45 minutes from where I live here in Raleigh, a two day program on Change leadership. And to this day I say this was the most impactful program I've ever attended. And I've been to a lot of great programming and maybe it could have been the timing of this. I went in october of 2019 and that's where I really learned about change leadership and change man management. He was a fantastic speaker. He came on and did my retreat. 

But in November of 2019 we lost a child, we lost our third child completely unexpectedly. You know, hindsight's always 20/20. But I realised how much that program impacted me both personally, and then if you fast forward to 2020 we all know what happened in 2020 with Covid, and professionally. So I’d say that was just a huge moment for me that I spent a lot of time thinking about change leadership and what is change management looked like at that program. I came back took a very unexpected leave of absence at the end of 2019 after losing that child and came back in 2020 and was just trying to you know, get through stuff and we all know what happened in March of 2020 which was Covid. We did a lot of departures there, not a lot of departures, we just departed a lot from what we've been doing and changed a lot of things. In 2021, one of the other members of my team had been at the firm since day one. She decided to retire. And that gave me another opportunity just to kind of go through and re-evaluate her job and figure out how we can make a really positive change and to do her job.

And so 2022 rolls around and I actually got asked to start spearheading the strategic initiative at the firm with our managing partner and the firm's management committee. I also revamped my department again kind of to fit with the future vision and where I think the firm is headed. So that's a lot. But I feel like I have to tell the story for some of it to make sense.

Ali: So I think it's very kind of you to give actually such a comprehensive answer. I mean the first thing I want to say, I didn’t  want to cut you off while you're in your flow is obviously how sorry I am, and we are, to hear about the loss of your child at that time. But there's so many pivotal moments in the introduction there throughout your career to date really you know be it sort of initially failing the bar exam that the various pregnancies, the high five moment, you know the loss of your child, the change management course or change leadership of course that you went to in terms of that conversation, there's just so many key moments that kind of really helped to set up where this conversation is going to go and I really do appreciate you taking the time to that. As I said, there's loads of sort of pivotal moments.

But do you think there was maybe one key moment when you realised how important change management was when it comes to leading and developing you know the legal BD and marketing function?

Anna: That's a great question. Yes I would have to say that I didn't know at the time that the term was actually change management. It was probably when I got set up for that role in 2016 in a lot of ways our department, I think I mentioned they had just started building it when I was in law school and clerk there, we were kind of new kids on the block. No one at our firm, we didn't talk about marketing and BD like we do now I think at that point is when I really realised I was like okay we have to we're creating change. Like we're putting a whole new department, a whole new set of standards and ideas within this organisation. Like how do we do it? And I didn't really realise until 2019 when I went to that change management workshop. Okay. That's really what I've been doing and what we've been trying to do for the past couple of years. We're not, you know, we aren't selling a product, we're selling professional people who need to connect and cultivate relationships. So one of the things I did in 2016 was we launched a program called SAW and I think that was one of the ways that we helped start that change if you will.

Ali: Yeah, I can imagine you say you're going from essentially zero to create an entirely new department and therefore there's so much learning along the way. And then when you start to factor in everything else has already been spoken about as you go out, I can imagine it's been yeah, really very impactful within the firm and taught you a huge amount. Kind of continuing on a lot along this vein, it'd be really interesting to understand from my perspective, but also for the listeners about the challenges you faced personally, for example, you know, coming back from maternity leave, how you manage those changes and the impact those have had?

Anna:  You know, losing a child is not something you ever want anyone to endure or have to go through. And we were totally heartbroken, totally shocked by my husband and I we didn't think our family was complete, there are still a lot of what ifs in our minds personally. And so one of the things, you know, coming back and being in charge of a team, one of the things I I really realised was sometimes it's okay to just do your best. I was big on goal setting. I kind of went into a little bit of autopilot just saying, okay, I'm gonna try and get through this um and do my best. I'll tell you a little side story that in that January of 2020 I was trying to you know, just make some goals for my team. And one of them was back to bringing Lauren, my marketing manager on board was to do more webinars. We did a webinar in January of 2020 and had about 30 or 40 attendees and we were thrilled. We're like, okay, maybe we can do like four more this year, that'll be our goal and I share that because in March with Covid hitting and all client interaction and person changing to the digital space that really propelled us forward. But I think, I mean I think my biggest takeaway is that sometimes you're gonna face something and it's gonna be really, really hard and that's where I think if you have good systems and processes and goals in place, you rely on those, you rely on your team, but then you also let your you tell yourself it's okay to just do your best and you may have to go into a little bit of autopilot at that time.

Ali: Of course, I think that's very impactful in the sense of, you know, you've just got to do your best and work through these and I'm sure as with everything whilst things can be incredibly difficult and we might not understand why they happen, they always lead to some sort of light in terms of understanding something slightly better further down the line and actually on that, you know, line of thinking would be really good to understand sort of how managing your own challenges differ from managing the changes that you know, you were facing other team members and you know with that were there lessons you took from those experiences when it comes to processes and systems at the firm?

Anna: How long do we have?

Ali: Well, as long as you need, Anna, as long as you need.

Anna:  I'm just kidding. Yes. Okay. So to summarise and I did not go through everything, I have taken four maternity leaves and I've managed four maternity leave, so that's eight maternity leaves total, in addition to dealing with countless sick parents and other folks. So the other thing I didn't mention was, I came Back in January of 2020 after I lost my child and then my dad died of Covid in July of 2020. So it was just a year a lot of heartbreak and hard, hard stuff. So I say that to say, I think one of the biggest things I've learned is when you've gone through these hard situations and dealt with these things firsthand and you've gone through your own maternity leave. I think you develop a lot of empathy and I try to remember that both as a manager and for the people, you know my boss. So I try to think empathy is really important. Communication. I have been reminded so many times of the importance of communication of having systems and processes in place and I know this sounds so simple but even making sure you have a database with important information centralised for your team. I actually have our team do an annual review of our files and department organisation every January. And I would also tell anyone if you have a new team member man, they bring a great perspective. I always ask everyone who joins our team like take a look and how does this look? Could you find anything if I was not here with planned leaves specifically like maternity or paternity leaves? I think one area we tend to focus so much time on the person going out. We don't think about them coming back and bringing them back into the fold. So I say re-entry, but I think that also goes in my situation that November, I was going into the, I was just going in for a doctor's appointment and I thought that everything was great and I was dressed and headed to work, had tons of meetings that day and then came out and they were like, you know, you've lost a child. I had to go through that whole process. I didn't go to work that day and I hadn't been planning to be out at all and that really, I felt like from other maternity leaves, I had managed, we had some good systems and processes in place, but that experience personally taught me even greater importance of it so of making sure your team knows where stuff is at all times and having practices that you adhere to.

And then managing re-entry. I can't stress this enough. I read some interesting articles on the Harvard Business Review and other publications on this topic. I spoke on it last year, but we tend to think so much about, okay, this person's going out but then they come back and I think sometimes you have a little bit of that imposter syndrome, like do they still need me, I've gotten by with three months without, you know, they've been fine without me or sometimes when people are about you actually realise, hey, this person is actually better and we need your attention focused this other thing or we want you to grow this. So I think really have been a re-entry plan with your teammates is really, really important and I was thankful when I came back in January, my team knows I'm a huge goal-setter and they're like, okay, these are some ideas we have for goals for the year again, because I was just kind of trying to get by a little bit on autopilot.

Ali: Of course, and you haven't actually, in the previous conversation you hadn’t shared about your father, so I'm really sorry to hear that, but as you kind of touch upon that there's so much that really allows you to kind of, I guess you have those moments away and you step back and you think, and you realise what's really important obviously for yourself, but also for the team and you know, something there that really hit upon was just having everything in place. And I love the idea that when you have some new coming on board, how you get them to actually have a look and go actually, if I was not here or other people were not around is everything you need there, that you can actually get the job done.  Always nice, and clearly the team listens if they know you're a big goal-setter that when you came back in, they were putting a few of their own for the table, always good, so something is being done correctly. But yeah, it's loads of really interesting points there and so thank you very much for that in terms of building on a little bit around that. And some of the things that were put in place, we previously spoke a little bit around that SAW program that you created alongside Society 54. And I know you sort of gamified some of those beady activities practice areas. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how your change management experience has influenced the marketing BD efforts generally at the firm please?

Anna: So SAW is one of my all-time favourite projects that I've done at the firm. It was a wildly successful campaign and as you just mentioned, it was built around the concept of Gamification. And just in case you aren't clear on what Gamification is, it's the idea of taking some gaming elements and applying them to other activities to increase engagement. In our instance and again, this was 2016 departments still relatively new in terms of the firm's history, we did this with business development, and marketing activities. So I came up with a list about 30 different things and then we created teams and we had the activities and there were points for each activity. So not every point was I guess or not every activity had the same number of points and we offered prizes and you would not believe how competitive these folks were. I mean at the end of it, they were like trying to figure out who was going to, they had strategies for how their team could get into all the points right before the deadline to like surge ahead. And it and it was a great foundational element. So kind of going back to what I learned in that change management program again after the fact is you know, you've gotta, they, they talk about a five-way theory of change that says you need five waves of feedback before the change is understood by the recipient. And I always say SAW was like my big first wave because it was a big first chance to really talk to people about writing articles or speaking or calling clients and doing all these things. The other thing is it gave me a great tangible example, results-oriented data to take my management committee and make the case for us. Taking the next step is a firm of like, hey we need this new technology, we need to CRM system, we need this new email marketing system. And SAW was just, it just laid the foundation and it also got people talking about business development and marketing in ways I could never have gotten them to do without it. Society 54, the ladies over there helped me and I can't say enough great things about them. But it was fun. It was also 20 16 was the one year in my career I did not have any major departures, maternity leaves or any other personal stuff going on. I look back fondly.

Ali: A highlight in many ways and it's amazing how Gamification works just so incredibly well with the attorneys. It's, you know, here at Passle when we launch in firms, we use Gamification as well and as you say, everyone gets massively behind it. It's ultimately whilst it's really fun,it drives that impactful Change, which is what you're looking for. And you know, you spoke about earlier, you were creating something from scratch and 2016 and then go to the committee with these tangible examples. Must have been really quite proud moment for you. I'm sure in terms of that also just touched upon something that you mentioned, the five-way theory of change. Was that something that I know you're a big reader, was that something you pulled out of a book or something you developed yoursel, Anna?

Anna: Oh, great question. So the, the change leadership program I went to in October of 2019. That was a theory that was spoken a lot about there. And I think it was maybe it was developed by them. There were three takeaways and I would love to share them with you.

But the five-way theory of change that again, you need the five ways of feedback. So I didn't read it there. I took it from that conference, but I still have notes that I go back to two other tidbits I'll just share with you for fun is um Most managers underestimate how much they change things by a factor of five and I always find that fascinating. You think you're changing one thing, but there's usually five other things you're not thinking about changing. And that planning tends to pay off at a 10-1 ratio, so every minute planning pays off at a rate of 10, so every dollar spent pays the dividends of 10 which again goes to why it's so important to have a plan and a vision for multiple reasons, but again, if you're managing changes or whatever.

Ali: Very interesting. Thank you very much for sharing that with us. It's certainly a few tidbits, I'm sure people can take away uh building upon that, that sort of change element you previously spoke candidly before about how those culture shifts are very incremental and I wonder if you could please tell us about what you have planned coming into 2023 to keep moving forward and developing the marketing and BD function at Cranfill Sumner?

Anna: Oh my goodness, yes. First I'm so excited about this year. I work with a fantastic team. My boss knows this but we're hoping to recreate SAW, so I've kind of left it alone for three or four years And I'm hoping to use it to drive some other initiatives we have here at the firm. And then I'm also excited. I started doing strategic planning work more intentionally last year with the firm and I'm hoping to do that again this year, actually, I am doing that again this year and I'm hoping SAW 2.0 can kind of help continue to drive those culture shifts we're looking for.

Ali: It's really exciting and hopefully lots of it will spiral off that. So best of luck with it. We're coming into the final parts. We have one more question before going into our quick-fire round and that was just fine. If it would be great if you can share one piece of advice be for that for other BD and marketing leaders that might be looking to implement change in their firm please?

Anna: I would tell them that change is a process, not an act. Listen and figure out where the gaps are in communication and usually the opportunity is sitting right there in that gap. My other piece of advice is use numbers as much as you can to track your success and your progress.

Ali: I absolutely love that. Very wise words short punchy and leaves us on a nice high there. So thank you, Anna and absolute joy talking to you on this.

Anna: It has been a true pleasure.

Ali: Thank you very much. So we're not quite over yet. I mean I could dive back into everything we've spoken about there and I probably will do once we've got through this, but we have our quick-fire round now, which is obviously something a little bit more fun, a little bit lighthearted, a chance to get to know you on a different level. So just going to fire through those, if that works Anna?

Anna: Yes, let's go.

Ali: Brilliant. So what's your favourite business and non business book? And I'm looking forward to hearing this.

Anna: Okay business is Atomic Habits by James Clear and non business book, this is hard. So I really love anything written by, she's in North Carolina writer, Kristy Harvey and a lot of her books are inspired by my favourite place, which is Beaufort, North Carolina.

Ali: Wonderful. Where I know you spent some time over Christmas. I'm sure immersing yourself in it. What was your first job?

Anna: I worked in my mother's law office, I did it all filing, copying, answering phones.Going to the courthouse with her.

Ali: Busy, busy, what makes you happy at work?

Anna: Helping others. I get no more satisfaction than getting a call or an email from an attorney who's finally kind of got that speaking opportunity or a new client and I also love my team.

Ali: I love to hear that. What are you listening to at the moment other than our podcast.

Anna: Does my kids screaming count? I've started a fit body, happy joints as a health podcast. I've really gotten into. I also really love How'd She Do That? with Emily Landers who's a recovering attorney, but she talks to women and business owners who are like entrepreneurial or aspiring, and she has the best voice too by the way. So that's one of my favourite podcasts.

Ali: Very interesting. And finally, where is your favorite place to visit and why?

Anna: it is Beaufort, North Carolina. Not to be confused with Beaufort, South Carolina, they're spelled the same. But Beaufort is just this tiny little coastal town that's got tons of oak shaded streets and it's very low-key, there's golf carts and bikes and beautiful water and wild horses there. So my family and I love to go down and it's about three hours from Raleigh.

Ali: Sounds like a wonderful spot. Anna, thank you so much, obviously going through those, but I really did want to thank you for the conversation today. It's been of course incredibly personal, but really very insightful as well and you know, personally has been various things that I've taken away, but I have no doubt a lot of the listeners will really benefit from this as well. So thank you very much.

Anna: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure and thank you for letting me share my story.


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