“Policies and procedures are often written in black and white, but humans make them grey.” So says Dr. Sharrmaine Pechac about her business, GreyPrint Consulting, LLC. That grey space is her sweet spot.
An Ohio native, Pechac built a career in human resources and student services and started her PhD in higher education there. When her husband got a job with the IU football program, she had to pivot, finish her dissertation, and keep building her career—from Bloomington. She needed something that would allow her to continue to work in what she considers her purpose: helping others be successful through education and employment opportunities. But at the same time, she needed flexibility with family in Indiana and Ohio.
The result was GreyPrint, a consultancy to bridge the gap between education and employment opportunities. Her previous experience working in HR showed her how policies on how to apply for jobs, get promoted, or take sick leave were sometimes too inflexible to accommodate the real needs and potential of unique individuals. The same was true in higher education, she found, when it came to black-and-white admissions policies, curriculums, and academic standing.
“Success is not a blueprint, especially when it comes to education and employment,” Pechac noted in a recent interview. “There are so many different factors that go into being successful. It is a greyprint.”
At first glance, the scope of GreyPrint’s work appears broad. It spans implementing a regional scholarship for minorities and women to diversify the digital tech field, to designing a national community engagement strategy for STEM PhD students, to creating a student-focused mental and behavioral health coaching program. The common thread between them is importance of strategic partnerships and what it takes to accomplish them.
“A lot of people don't understand what it takes to come up with an idea for a strategic partnership and then figure out, what are the exact next steps to accomplish this idea? Who are the stakeholders that need to be at the table? How much money will it take to accomplish this idea? And oftentimes they don't have the capacity or the expertise internally. If it's a strategic partnership that involves an educator and an employer, they need somebody who could sit right in the middle, right in that grey space.”
This need exists, according to Pechac, as employers and educators are re-examining what their own success looks like. Higher ed sees the need to ensure more students complete their studies and graduate. Employers need better ways to source talent. These are related issues, Pechac says, best solved through strategic partnerships that close the gap between education and employment, in ways that accommodate unique individuals and connect them to opportunities.
“I believe that my purpose is to help other people be successful through education and employment opportunities,” Pechac said. “And so I can't be quiet. I have to meet people, I have to network, because the more projects that I work on, the more opportunities I can help develop for other people. I have to tell myself, ‘You're shy, you're introverted, you don't want to do this—do it anyway. Get out of your own way, because if you open your mouth or if you send this email and you connect with somebody, that could give you a project. There are hundreds of students that you could help get a degree, hundreds of people that you can help get an employment opportunity.”
GreyPrint’s current client list includes Greater Washington Partnership, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Health Management Systems of America. She recently served as contributing writer for a publication from Achieving the Dream, one of the most well-known organizations seeking to transform the community college system.
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