C-Suite: Diane Carroll

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,585 views 

Diane Carroll Director of Communications, Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark.

Class of 2020 C Suite Diane Carroll Chief Communications & Marketing Officer Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

FAST FACT: Carroll joined the museum staff in 2012 and has since earned two promotions.

If you had $1 million to give, what would you support? I’m inspired by the work that NWA Food Bank and Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter undertake to help address basic needs, especially during this pandemic.

Has it been a good thing or bad thing in terms of how the pandemic has altered your business’ strategy? It’s complicated to define anything pandemic-related in terms of good and bad, but there’s a positive element in the pandemic pushing us to re-examine how we reach people beyond our building and grounds. Our teams went into creative mode, rethinking what had typically occurred on-site and how we could shift that to online or in the community.

What keeps you up at night or worries you the most? Creating a better future for the next generations, given our significant divide on global issues and the best ways to address them. I struggle with how I can make a difference, so I try to focus on what I can do in my interactions and in our community in order to keep from feeling too overwhelmed.

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing? My career has focused on communicating about art, architecture and nature, and I’ve wondered what it would be like to be an artist or architect. But I love that I’m able to create with words, so I think I found my calling.

What’s the first app you launch on your phone each day? Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app that I always enjoyed but has now taken on even more meaning for me since the pandemic began.

Describe your morning routine. Tend to my dog, make coffee, listen to Headspace and meditate. Read the daily The New York Times briefing and a few arts e-newsletters while playing some upbeat, good-start-to-the-day jazz. These days, I step into my home office, my dog takes her place for the day next to my desk, and I log on to say hi to our team on Slack.

What has been your toughest leadership challenge during the pandemic? Helping our team channel all that happens on-site at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary and making it available online. We adapted what we do to fit an online format — you can now take classes, tours, field trips and more from anywhere in the world. We were undertaking this while we were transitioning to working remotely and dealing with the pandemic. Prioritizing, communicating, empathizing, adapting and ultimately making sure the team feels connected and supported has been essential.

What is the most important thing about being a leader? Serving the people we have the privilege of working with, toward the goal of creating fulfilling, meaningful experiences for us all.

What is the best business advice you have ever received? Lead with empathy. It’s a transformative way to approach conversations and even the most difficult challenges, helping you find the balance in meeting a variety of needs. Being empathetic has accountability at its core if you’re meeting the needs of all involved, and it leads to fewer misunderstandings and ultimately growth.

What is the best business advice you have ever given? Sleep on it. It’s such a simple statement, but giving your mind a break in the action to work through a challenge or feel inspired can yield big results. In our fast-paced world, communications methods have narrowed down to fewer words and immediate responses — occasionally hitting that mental pause button and giving yourself some time to be thoughtful is important.