Location: St. Louis, MO
Her greatest leadership advice is simple: Just say: “Yes.”
Straight to the point, Cassandra Sanford, CEO of Kelly Mitchell, a St. Louis, Missouri-based IT staffing firm, said the natural tendency is to say, “no,” when starting out as professionals and leaders.
“We run opportunities by our friends, families and colleagues, and they tell us, ‘You don’t have time,’ ‘You have kids,’ ‘We’re trying to get our business off the ground,’” she said. “Let me assure you, that there is never a good, easy, nor convenient time. You have to try new things, take on new roles, and new responsibilities.”
And for Sanford, her entrepreneurial spirit has led the way to her success as a professional and a leader. She began her career at McDonnell Douglas, eventually, transferring to the up-and-coming computer services division to recruit IT. It was there that Sanford identified a need for niche IT and engineering support.
Eventually, Sanford and some colleagues outlined a business plan for a staffing firm focused on providing top tech talent to companies. The plan led Sanford and her team to launch Kelly Mitchell in 1998. Since then, Sanford has grown her company from three employees working at its headquarters in St. Louis to the current 2,000 employees in 17 offices in all major geographical markets.
“I plan to remain an influential leader by continuing to stay abreast of innovation and influencing industry best practices. I am passionate about business strategy, business development, human resources, and finances, and I encourage developments across these pillars as my company continues to grow,” she said.
In five years, Sanford expects Kelly Mitchell to be the go-to trusted advisor for the technical community, placing it in the top 10 of IT workforce consulting firms.
“We cannot wait to show the world how we connect people with opportunities and clients with success. We hope to be both the leading brand for flexible workforce solutions among the world’s largest employers, as well as the go-to talent expert partner for job seekers across the globe,” she said.
Sanford has been honored with several awards over the years including those for her mentorship of other women. Her accolades include: Entrepreneur of the Year from the Women’s Business Development Center of Chicago; Enterprising Woman of the Year from Enterprising Women Magazine; Most Influential Business Woman from the St. Louis Business Journal; and WBENC Star of Year.
Sanford is a role model for women in business. She has created a company dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, where talented professionals from all backgrounds can make a difference through commitment, innovation and hard work.
She said her advice of saying, “yes,” probably has her team falling out of their chairs.
And in Sanford’s world, that is how you continue to grow.
Cassandra was an umpire for little league baseball for many years.