Women’s History Month Leadership Spotlight – Philise Conein, CEO and Co-Founder

During March, we celebrate Women’s History Month. This observance is to honor and celebrate the contributions that women have made and continue to make to history, culture and society. The 2024 theme for Women’s History Month is ” Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” This theme recognizes that women play pivotal roles in shaping our world, breaking barriers and challenging the status quo. Today we honor the incredible woman and leader who has shaped TECHEAD into what it is today, CEO and Co-Founder, Philise Conein. We asked Philise some questions to get to know her better and to understand what it means to be a leader here at TECHEAD:

  1. How long have you been in your role? I started TECHEAD in 1988, along with my cofounder and husband, Phil Conein.
  2. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since opening TECHEAD? Hire the right people. After the dust settles, success requires a team effort, and you want to make sure you have the right people around you. When Phil and I started the business, it was just the two of us doing everything. Heading TECHEAD through the years, we have hired some great folks, some “C” and “D” players, and some people that were downright toxic and dangerous to the business. We currently have a good team and reward them for their efforts. Getting the right people on the bus is more of an art than a science.
  3. What is a personal motto or quote you “live” by? “This too shall pass.”
  4. What are professional mottos or quotes you “work” by? “Never take ‘no’ for a final answer” and “done is better than perfect.”
  5. What are some memorable moments you’ve had while working at TECHEAD? Attending the Un-gala for the MUSE Awards at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in 2008, with TECHEAD as a semi-finalist. Phil and I dressed up as a Jackson Pollock painting, and we got our picture on the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch. Another highlight was meeting Richard Branson and Buzz Aldrin at the 2011 #DSRPT11 (Disrupt 2011) fundraising conference, hosted by Richmond Unite at the Richmond Convention Center. Buzz sat at our table and was a bit of a curmudgeon.
  6. If you could live in any other historical period, what would it be and why? The 1920s in Paris, France. I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall while attending a salon hosted by Gertrude Stein, possibly meeting Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and artists like Picasso or Matisse.
  7. What’s the most memorable place you’ve ever traveled to? Berlin, Germany before the wall fell in

    Philise Conein in Berlin, Spring of 1985, before the wall fell. Berlin, Potsdamer Platz. Overlooking “no man’s land” between west and east.

    1985. I traveled to East Berlin for a day trip and noticed an immediate contrast between the bleak Russian occupied east and the modern glitz of the west. Even the ice cream in the east had no flavor. It was eye opening and depressing.

  8. What’s a fun fact about you that would surprise people? I won first place in the seventh-grade science fair at my junior high school in Hampton, VA.
  9. If you could have any superpowers, what would they be? Invisibility and time travel.
  10. What books are on your nightstand?A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I read it years ago and want to read it again.
  11. If you could meet one person, dead or alive, to grab coffee with, who would it be and why? Abraham Lincoln. I would ask what he would do to fix our broken political system. I don’t think he would be too happy with the current state of our nation.
  12. Where do you look for inspiration? Earlier this week, it came from watching the first episode of Photographer on the National Geographic Channel. The premiere centered on Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, a couple who focus on conservation photography and started the non-profit, SeaLegacy, documenting stories focusing on our oceans, and the impact that climate change is having on the future of our planet.
  13. What are your current goals? Quoting my late father-In-law:” To keep an equal strain on my moving parts.” Ha!
  14. What are the biggest challenges facing the staffing/recruiting/workforce planning industry? As a small, woman-owned business, I would say having access to financing when you need it, is a big challenge. On a larger scale, probably the unknowns of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), and how these technologies may affect recruiting processes. Having automation that works is a great thing, but I am not sure how it will affect day-to-day operations and the staffing of people in this industry.
  15. How does TECHEAD support our women employees? We have several women in leadership positions at TECHEAD. I think hiring the right women for our internal roles has been key, and once they are in place, giving them the room and flexibility to grow and excel. Guidance and leadership are here for them when they need it.
  16. What women do you look up to? All the women scientists that are fighting to combat climate change and striving to leave our planet in a better place for future generations. We need government leaders who believe that science is real and will listen to these scientists and put more funding behind the research that works. We only have one planet. There is no “planet B.”

Get In Touch With Us Today