Dale Jones is a vice chairman and partner at Heidrick & Struggles, one of the nation’s top executive search firms. He advises boards and CEOs on human capital issues such as leadership, recruiting and succession planning, but a few years ago, Jones sensed a calling to do something about the problem of global water. Together with the founders of America Online, Steve and Jean Case, he pursued an innovative plan to bring clean drinking water to rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa. The plan involved installing merry-go-rounds that pumped water from the ground as children played on them.
“Villages get water for the first time, and to see the rejoicing of families and children is pretty incredible,” said Jones in an interview with Laity Leadership Senior Fellow David W. Miller this spring.
“It was really a time in my life when I needed to do something that would feed the soul, but it was also a chance for my family to be on a journey that we were part of something that had a greater sense of mission and serving people’s needs,” said Jones.
Eventually the PlayPumps project was folded into a larger water project and Jones returned to his work atHeidrick & Struggles. As enriching as the experience was, Jones sensed that his real calling was to the search business. He realized he is most effective connecting people with particular skills and character to organizations that have matching needs and he speaks of leveraging people with resources to take action. One third of his work at Heidrick & Struggles is devoted to the firm’s social enterprise practice.
Figuring out how to integrate his faith and his passion for humanitarian projects into his daily corporate work is “the crux” of who he is, Jones said.
“I wake up everyday thinking about it,” he said. …
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