Nila is devoted to finding fit in a work context—for both employers and employees. She works with clients domestically and internationally to identify solutions and design programs that support all aspects of talent management. Her goal is happier people at work.
What led you into this field?
I’d always had an interest in psychology. In college, I took my first psychology course. I knew psychology held a fascination for me as a key to understanding people and their motivations, differences, and unique qualities. I just needed to figure out how to make it into a career. I didn’t want to work with only a small group or sample of the population.
During a social psychology seminar, I came to a book chapter called “Industrial Organizational Psychology.” It was such a mouthful. But as I read, I discovered the chapter was about studying work. I remember thinking, “All of us have to work—unless we win the lottery or something.” It seemed like a noble area to study and try to improve for people, because we spend so much of our lives working. Helping people become happier at work appeared to be something that could make a difference.
As I was preparing to enter the workforce myself, I met Carol Jenkins at a Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference in New Orleans. Carol changed my life. We talked about Assess Systems (now OutMatch), and fell in love with the idea of the company. I thought, “That’s the kind of company I want to work for, a company that has an interest in this kind of work, a company that really cares for people—those within the organization as well as clients.” That’s why I have stayed for so many years.
What or who has influenced your career the most?
One of the people who contributed to my interest in making sure people were happier at work was my father. He shaped the direction of my life. I admired him for his work when I was a child, but at the time, I didn’t really know what he did. I remember watching him. As mid-level manager, he used to bring work home. I think he enjoyed his work and being part of something larger than himself, but even when I was young, I got the sense that it wasn’t his passion.
If we spend most of our time at work but aren’t happy there, it can lead to illness and other things. That’s why it is so important that employees fit in their jobs. We can treat something as a job, but if we do the things we’re passionate about, if there’s an alignment, I think that makes for happier people.
At OutMatch, we focus on fit. We’re helping organizations find people who are going to fit with their businesses. Likewise, we’re helping individuals find their fit within an organization. When there’s a fit, there’s likely to be increased productivity and happier people—a win-win for both sides.
What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career?
I’ve learned that you never stop growing and learning! I used to think there was this summit you get to where you think, “I’ve made it.” I realized there’s no summit, and that scared me at first. I’m achievement oriented, so I want to get that prize. But now I find it kind of enthralling. There’s no top of the mountain. It’s about the journey, really loving and appreciating the journey.
What’s something no one knows about you?
I love to organize. If you were to look at my desk, you’d see all these piles, so I don’t think anyone would know that about me. But let me tell you–they are organized piles! I just get this thrill of getting the spice rack just right and correctly labeled. I created a combined office, studio, and guest room. I took everything out, put everything back, and organized the closets. I love that. I get a thrill out of it.