First in Future: SAS EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer Jenn Mann

Summary: A couple months ago, a group of CEOs from some of North Carolina’s largest corporations gathered in Garner and did something remarkable: They folded themselves into chairs and began reading books to five-year-olds. It’s part of an effort by a group called the Business Roundtable to highlight the importance of early childhood education. The CEOs at the announcement that day were advocating for more investment in a series of things that are more likely to result in more students being really good at reading by the end of third grade. Their argument is that it’s not only a good thing to do—it’s in their business communities’ interest. This week we talk with Jenn Mann, head of HR at SAS, about how investing in early childhood programs is helping SAS tackle one of industry’s most pressing issues: talent retention.

Venessa Harrison of AT&T NC and Jim Goodnight of SAS; Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat and Dale Jenkins of Medical Mutual Holdings, all at the Business Roundtable.

Excerpt: “What the research has shown is that children who aren’t at a reading proficiency by third grade, or at the end of third grade, rarely catch up, and are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. Students with strong reading skills at the end of their third grade are more likely to go to college, and that’s something we’re really trying to focus on—How do we improve those numbers to ensure that we have the talent we need for the future?”

Book recommendations: Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, Shauna Niequist; Originals, Adam Grant

North Carolinian to Watch: Isa Watson of Envested

What does North Carolina’s Homegrown Superhero, The Versatillion, look like? What characteristics, skills and abilities must they possess to be the hero North Carolina needs? Submit your vision for this superhero of the future to our First in Future contest for your first chance at a 2018 Emerging Issues Forum ticket!

Listen to the podcast:

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