Name: Elizabeth J Tarquin
Title: CEO and owner
Organisation: CASE Consultants International
Results-oriented Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile, and ITIL-certified strategist, solutions architect, and team leader with nearly three decades of dedicated focus on solving climate, environmental, and societal challenges through cutting-edge science and technology.
Proven track record of building and leading highly scalable Program Management Offices (PMOs) that have driven successful business development and operations. Built and managed a substantial portfolio of environmental science and professional services contracts valued at over $250 million, overseeing delivery of complex programs employing 250+ professionals at all organizational levels working remotely and co-located at customer sites across eight time zones.
Proven leader in strategic planning, organizational change management, marketing, messaging, and data governance and policy. Adept at articulating mission, vision, values, goals, and progress to diverse internal and external stakeholders. Skilled in presenting complex issues and solutions with clarity and persuasiveness. Recognized for raising awareness, expanding reach and influence, and transitioning communications from reactive to proactive to drive growth and positive impact.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Elizabeth's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Learning to identify people's values, skills, motivations, and fears. These are critical to unlocking their potential as individuals, as well as creating high performance teams where unified goals take precedent over egos.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Quite by accident. I have always been a person who gets things done. From an early age I found myself in charge (or taking charge when no one else wanted to). My earliest opportunity to 'lead' - outside of sports - was when I was put in charge of the snack bar at my summer job at 16. I had to find a way to get the other workers - my friends and peers - to do what I wanted them to do (and make the owners of the snack bar happy, of course). It was a delicate situation, and I had to figure out what each person's strengths were, what they didn't like to do, and how I could persuade them to take on different tasks. I came up with a system of checks, balances, and rewards, which worked.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up around 6a Hawaii time, usually to several full inboxes since I work mostly with staff on the East Coast of the US. I spend the first hour having coffee and prioritizing my day; jump into it at 7a; and try to get most of my face-to-face (Zoom) calls in before noon. At noon I get some exercise (usually running up the hill behind our house), then spend an hour or so reflecting on the morning, tidying up loose ends, and reading. At 5-6p, it's a walk on the beach with my dog, then home to make dinner, enjoy family time, and relax with a good series on AppleTV or HBO Max or reading. If I'm being good, I'm in bed by 10p so I can let me mind and body relax.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I was recently reminded that sometimes leadership isn't so much about charging ahead as it is about keeping things moving forward. I was in a tough situation where the person I was working with actively disregarded good advice that was in their best interest. This caused huge morale problems - and my job became less trying to get things on track and more about keeping multiple teams engaged and still on the path to delivery.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green. Brilliant, readable, relatable, and with lots of great historic anecdotes. I still go back to it as a reference (and for fun) when I'm faced with a challenge.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Stick to your values. I've spent a lot of time thinking about why situations go sideways, and it's usually a misalignment of values. I would also advise that as a leader, you don't have to do everything - in fact, you shouldn't. Surround yourself with smart people who have knowledge, experience, and skill that you don't, and listen to them. A great leader creates a multiplier effect - and is not threatened or intimidated by people they perceive are smarter or stronger or faster than they are. On the contrary, they attract these people and figure out how best to amplify their capabilities to achieve a goal.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
That's a tough one - once was when a colleague gave me an unintended compliment after I jumped into leading an all hands meeting of 80 after a pretty contentious interaction with the smaller core leadership team. I had to switch off my frustration and switch on to keep morale up and keep things moving - it took pretty much all of my emotional energy. Another time was when we landed in American Samoa with no rental car or hotel...my colleague asked me about it, and I said I thought we'd just figure it out. He smiled and said, "Yep, I knew we would."