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Meet Suzanne Bates of Bates Communications in Wellesley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Bates.

Suzanne, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I had a rewarding 20 years in television news, where I reported for news organizations in five US cities including Boston’s WBZ -TV. After covering politics, public policy, business, doing investigative reporting and feature reporting, I still loved it, but had a feeling that there was something else ahead for me,

My dad was an attorney and entrepreneur who had success and failure -and taught me courage, persistence, and resilience. Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, I wasn’t sure how to leave a job that I had loved for the unknown. I had no business management experience. Three wise friends offered their advice: 1) “Question -do you want to do it when you’re 40, or when you’re 50?” 2) “Set aside enough of your savings to live on for a year and don’t think about it again”, and 3) “When you wake up in the morning and don’t know what to do, put earning revenue at the top of the pile.”

Has it been a smooth road?
I started the firm in January 2001. Eight months later, I was getting invitations to coach leaders in many Boston firms. On September 11th, while getting ready to give a speech, my husband said, turn on the news, you’re not giving any speeches today. With so much fear and uncertainty in the economy, the start-up was slower than I’d hoped and I had to learn to be resourceful and nimble.

By 2009, the business was thriving. I had hired a number of great consultants, coaches, and a marketing team. I had published my first book, Speak Like a CEO, and we were working with senior leaders in the Fortune 500. When the stock market began folding, we got a call from our biggest client canceling an engagement. It was the beginning of massive pullback by all of our large clients. At one point our budget was so tight, that one of our folks (who has now been with us ten years) came to me and said, “you know, you don’t have to buy Keurig cups. We can all bring our own coffee.” That’s when I knew we would be okay. We buckled down, shifted our strategy and broadened our market and made it through.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Among the things I’m most proud of is that our company is on the cutting edge of leadership thinking, We are a relatively small firm, however, we think big and we are innovators. We developed the first science-based model of executive presence with a 360 assessment now on the dashboard of many global companies. We have certified coaches in 16 countries to use it in their work. We have worked with close to 20% of Fortune 500 companies, at the senior leader level.

In the world of management consulting, we’re known for our work in bridging the gap from strategy to execution. We consult with leaders to help them engage, inspire, align and move people to act. I like to say we pick up where the McKinsey’s exit when the strategy is on paper, and it is time to bring it alive. Our work helps leaders and teams build trust, collaborate, make faster, better decisions, and communicate in a way that aligns people around purpose and galvanizes them to get things done. We are also known for emphasizing the development of qualities such as authenticity, integrity, humility, confidence, concern, and resonance.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The Boston area is an exceptionally suitable place for a management consulting firm like ours. Boston has a phenomenal brand as a city. When I travel globally, people always say, “Oh Boston!” and want to visit or talk about their visits. The intellectual firepower of the region enables us to hire smart people who appreciate our cultural and learning institutions, our values, and the natural beauty from mountains to seashores. I’m proud that many of our clients are companies headquartered in the region. It’s exciting to see a company like GE choosing to make its headquarters here.

Like every CEO and business owner in the region, I would like to see Boston and Massachusetts develop infrastructure, roads, transportation, and housing that make it affordable, accessible and enjoyable to work here. Major Menino had a great vision for Boston and the Seaport, and we need more visionary leadership. Commutes are long, housing costs are high, and these do have an impact on hiring and productivity. I think Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh are doing a great job and hope that business leaders and policymakers will be committed, and keep challenging one another to make Boston a competitive, world-class city.

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1 Comment

  1. Paul

    December 19, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Interesting insight on Suzanne and Bates Communications. Suzanne – you obviously provide inspirational leadership. Love the great team photos! Thanks for sharing!

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