Theresa Little on Making a Positive Difference at McKinstry and Beyond

“It’s about fostering a sense of community within McKinstry and extending our impact beyond the workplace, making us better neighbors, parents and colleagues.”

Theresa Little is a talent development manager and has been with McKinstry for five years. Theresa supports the professional development of individuals and teams across the company as well as creates a positive difference through her work within McKinstry’s Unity Alliance. She was recognized as a 2023 Impact Award recipient in part for her meaningful work within the company and in surrounding communities.

Learn more about Theresa’s career path and what she hopes to inspire through her work at McKinstry.

Learn More About Theresa’s Experience

What is your role at McKinstry? How did you get there?

My role at McKinstry is currently talent development manager and I have been with McKinstry for five years. In this role, I provide support to individuals involved in creating leadership, team development and professional development content and programs for the organization. When I joined McKinstry, we were in the process of revamping leadership and individual professional development programs, making it an exciting time to be actively involved in creating new initiatives from scratch. 

I spent a few years in a consultant role before transitioning into a partner role. Last August, I took on the role of a talent development manager. Prior to McKinstry, I had worked for a couple of large organizations where I gained experience in facilitation, leadership development as well as instructional design projects. From my prior work experiences, I have brought a diverse set of talents into McKinstry, contributing to the organization’s ongoing development initiatives. 

How did you develop an interest in your field?

I developed an interest in my field through my journey in mass communication. Initially, I had aspirations of becoming the next Oprah, confident in my ability to engage and gain people’s trust through conversation. It was during my time working at a restaurant that I had a revelation. While interacting with customers and serving, I recognized a gap in the training program for new servers. 

Seizing the opportunity, I took it upon myself to create comprehensive training documents, which eventually evolved into a manual. One day, our district manager discovered my work and was impressed. This experience was pivotal in making me realize my knack for not only communicating effectively but also for guiding others to understand and excel in their roles. 

In essence, my interest in my field was cultivated through a hands-on experience in a customer-facing role, and this realization of my ability to create impactful training materials served as a defining moment in my journey. 

What does success look like in your role?

As a talent development manager, I believe success in my role revolves around embodying the principles I advocate for. For me, being a manager means prioritizing the growth, motivation and inspiration of the individuals on my team. It involves ensuring that obstacles and milestones hindering their progress are addressed and supporting them in their journey. This commitment to fostering growth is not only a personal ethos but also an approach I impart to other managers through training. 

In the broader context of my role within McKinstry, success is reflected in the collective development of all employees. I aim to create an environment where each individual sees opportunities aligning with their preferred lifestyle and career trajectory. Success means making developmental programs easily accessible, ensuring they resonate with participants and providing practical tools that can be implemented in their day-to-day work. Overall, success for a talent development manager at McKinstry is when employees feel empowered and equipped for their professional growth journey. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

The most rewarding aspect of my work is undoubtedly the people. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet a diverse range of individuals, particularly in my role facilitating programmatic cohorts. Being a people person, this job allows me to connect with many folks, but what truly stands out as the most fulfilling aspect is when we have repeat customers. 

It’s incredibly gratifying when individuals return because they find value in the information we provide. This can manifest in different ways, such as the same person attending multiple sessions or a manager recommending our programs to their new manager based on the positive impact it had on them. 

As we observe an increasing number of repeat customers, it becomes evident that our work is making a meaningful difference. Witnessing the transformational behaviors and knowing that our efforts are valued is a source of great excitement for me and my team. 

What change do you hope to inspire through your work at McKinstry?

I hope to inspire a change where people feel less stressed at work due to their reporting relationships. I believe that people often leave managers, and my goal is to create a work environment where individuals have a sense of belonging and a safe space to share differences. I want to foster collaboration and encourage individuals to bring forth their thoughts and opinions without fear. The change I aspire to see is leaders and managers who know how to accept and respond appropriately to diverse perspectives. Ultimately, I envision a workplace where stress is minimized, and colleagues can collaborate effectively, leveraging their differences positively and constructively.

As a 2023 Impact Award recipient, what were highlights from your work last year?

Looking back on last year’s highlights for me and my work, I served on the steering committee of the Unity Alliance and supported learning and development opportunities for our alliances. Two significant highlights stand out with the first being the creation of our intro to DEI e-learning. In the context of our five-year DEI plan, we aimed to upskill our employees by addressing gaps in DEI knowledge. The e-learning, featuring videos from our employees discussing their interpretations and challenges in diversity, equity and inclusion, proved to be impactful and safe for everyone at McKinstry to get involved. This initiative was particularly crucial as it allowed people to engage with DEI topics comfortably from their own computers, avoiding potential discomfort in virtual discussions.  

On a different note, my involvement in the Unity Steering Committee has been a fulfilling aspect of my role. In 2023, we organized the first-ever leadership Unity summit, bringing together members from different locations for a two-day retreat. This summit was not only professionally rewarding but also personally meaningful. The experience of being part of a committee that values diverse voices and perspectives while working towards advancing racial equity at McKinstry has been an honor. 

What motivates you to have an impact on advancing opportunities for others?

I believe it stems from a desire to create a space where we can all be “Better Together.” My involvement in various initiatives at McKinstry, from the Unity Alliance to DEI efforts, is driven by a belief that sharing and learning each other’s stories contributes to collective growth. It’s about fostering a sense of community within McKinstry and extending our impact beyond the workplace, making us better neighbors, parents and colleagues. The recognition of environmental and social responsibility, as evidenced by initiatives like the Impact Award, further reinforces the importance of contributing to the well-being of both internal and external communities. 


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