Cristine Lipscomb co-founded Synthology in October of 2022. Now, as its CEO, Lipscomb is steering Synthology in a direction to reshape the consultancy industry. Synthology is poised as an organization that not only delivers talent management consulting expertise with coaching support, but also provides a project management platform where clients and consultants can communicate and collaborate on project deliverables. It’s a team empowering their clients to navigate the new complexities of talent management in a hybrid workplace. And an organization that isn’t centered on one super-star consultant, but a wide group of experts.
Even though Cristine leads from the front and is involved in every aspect of the company, including sales and marketing, operations, product development, and investor relations, she makes sure her team stands in the spotlight after a task is accomplished.
As a leader, Cristine adheres to the words of wisdom offered by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in his famous quote, “When the leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves’.” Cristine started her career in the field of learning and EdTech, and looks at leadership through a learning lens. She figures out how to engage with people and explore their potential and helps them grow their capabilities to maximize the potential of the organization. ‘When people thrive, we are capable of achieving audacious ambitions beyond today’s vision,” she says.
With Synthology, Cristine is creating a foundation for success. She and her team and their collective talents will enable the company to be even bigger and better than her original vision.
Over the years, the workforce and workplaces have evolved with a number of disruptive shifts: changing demographics, the accelerating disruption caused by AI and digital technologies, and the hybrid work model that many employees have come to expect. In addition to all these, companies are also facing the problem of talent shortage. According to Cristine,the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the impact of these changes.
Cristine saw changes taking place in the workforce significantly impacting the workplace and work itself,and realized that the consulting experience also needed to evolve to better support organizations navigating these changes.
Synthology Blends Skilled Expertise and Supportive Software
Synthology’s mission is to create the employee experience that attracts high potential candidates to your organization, prepares them with industry knowledge and skills to excel in your organization, and engages your workforce for long term success. Synthology solutions offer recruiting, onboarding, learning, performance management, leadership, and workforce management.
Cristine says the approach Synthology follows is a hybrid of consulting and coaching. Synthology offers team guidance and expertise to solve problems together with clients,achieving client goals through collaboration. “Rather than swooping in as experts, we collaborate with our clients to navigate ambiguous challenges, integrate client work experience and consulting expertise, and coach teams to work together across job roles and geographies,” Cristine explains.
Synthology: Consulting Coupled With a Collaborative Project Management Platform
Synthology’s Studio service provides curated consultants based on a client’s unique project. Cristine and her team believe problems are dynamic and require the right type of expertise at the right time. Synthology’s agile consulting studios are staffed with experts who serve project teams as needed. “Offering diverse studios with complementary skill sets and expertise enables us to solve client problems more effectively,” Cristine says.
Synthology Workspace provides a human-centered, AI-enabled collaborative project experience. When teams are managing projects through emails and spreadsheets, they’re not effectively collaborating and getting tasks done across time zones. Synthology Workspace eliminates this issue by creating a highly collaborative workspace for all team members consultants and clients can engage in a dedicated environment, viewing project metrics, seeing work in progress, and reviewing/previewing the project journey at any stage of the project experience.
“Our Synthology Studio model delivers the right expertise at the right time for the project, while Synthology Workspace supports a collaborative project experience for clients and consultants,” Cristine says. “We are creating the workforce of the future within our company and for our clients across industries.”
Working with High Achievers
In the company’s early days, Cristine was primarily responsible for fundraising. Now she is focused on team building and client delivery. She works with people who are high achievers. They are a part of Synthology because they believe in its vision and it’s five values of integrity, collaboration, innovation, appreciation, and fun.
. The company’s motto is: “Together we make work matter.”
“Collaboration” means everyone coming together as a diverse community to achieve their common goals, Cristine says. At Synthology, everyone rolls up their sleeves to get work done regardless of their job titles. And they accomplish goals without compromising on enjoyment. One of the other core values of the company is fun. “We enjoy the day and have fun along the way,” Cristine says.
Having fun is a “serious pursuit” for Cristine. She believes that people who play together, stay together. “Fun increases productivity and retention,” she says.
Life Before Founding Synthology
Today, Cristine is an inspiration to many aspiring woman leaders and founders in the consultancy space. However, when she was young, she had no dreams of starting a company or raising capital to establish a talent strategy consulting and HR tech company. She also did not aspire to become a CEO. But, when she stepped into the professional world, she was able to identify business opportunities by observing the market events.
Cristine founded two companies to date, launching her first company, Intrac Inc., at the age of 27. At the time, she was leading new ways of working and learning in the then-emerging space – EdTech and eLearning.
As a learning and development consulting firm, Intrac served Fortune 500 companies across multiple industries. Cristine ran the company from 1999 to 2020. “My experiences have been inspired by market events, seeing an opportunity, and bringing talented people to the table,” she says.
She also points out she has been in the HR tech industry since the last century. At the time, the industry was not well-defined and eLearning was still years away from gaining mainstream acceptance. Cristine recalls that people viewed eLearning with skepticism because it did not offer them the in-person training experience. “I’ve built learning management systems (LMSs), worked with early-stage authoring tools that required programming, and sandboxed first-generation web meeting software,” she says. “I’ve helped Fortune 500 companies select LMSs and then helped optimize the people strategy and workflow to leverage the HR Tech ecosystems.”
According to Cristine, tech often defines people’s experience. They adapt their way of working to be in sync with the tech functionality. Cristine’s perspective was – and continues to be – a human-centered, tech-enabled workforce. “With 25 years of experience in HR Tech, I maintain a practical perspective on what works for people,” she says. “Keep it simple, streamlined. I’ve learned people do not want a user experience. They prefer the human experience.”
An Early Pioneer in HR Tech
Cristine launched her first business when not many in the industry were aware of HR tech ecosystems. She initially experienced challenges because of being too early. “Innovation without reason is not a strategy,” she says. As her business was one of the first of its kind in the industry, she learned the value of piloting and early adopters. In addition to that, she also learned that it was important to have a story to illustrate the changes taking place within and outside the industry and the reason for change and innovation. Challenges also taught her the value of mainstream and an innovation workstream – which becomes the mainstream. Cristine has overcome every challenge successfully in her long career.
Cristine received several accolades for her business acumen and innovative solutions. But she considers relationships in her professional and personal life to be her most valued achievement. These connections inspire her, encourage her, keep her growing, challenge her assumptions, and expose her to new ideas. “It isn’t easy to keep these connections going across time zones, changes in employment, and busy lives,” she says.
For her, Synthology is a company of friendships. She explains that people have come in through personal and professional connections they have with others in the company. “These strong bonds show in how effectively we work together as a team and achieve a high degree of success for our clients. She adds” It’s also good business. People who have a friend at work are more engaged, more likely to innovate, and more likely to stay at an organization.”
The Work-Life Rhythm
Maintaining a work-life balance is a real challenge for almost all leaders, especially women leaders. Cristine, however, doesn’t necessarily strive for work-life balance. She recognizes there is an ebb and flow. “I maintain a work-life rhythm.”
Cristine wakes up early morning and starts the day with a run or ride. After that, she makes breakfast for her daughter and has a conversation about the day ahead. “When the sun comes up, it is a fast-paced day,” she says. “I know what NEEDS to get done and what should get done.”
At work, Cristine focuses on the tasks that make an impact on client quarterly goals and longer-term strategy. She points out that there is a trade-off every day as time evaporates. And, on her way home, she makes sure to find time for a quick conversation with a friend, or she texts a friend to make weekend hiking plans.
Once she reaches home, she cooks with her daughter. “We have dinner together so we have time to catch up on the day,” Cristine says. “She does homework, while I catch up on email. Then it’s lights out.” She is “intentional” about spending time with her daughter and friends as well as finding time for exercise.
Women Leaders and Younger Colleagues
“Often, younger colleagues are dismissed for lack of experience,” Cristine says. As someone who has experienced that, she intentionally brings in young colleagues – those who can grow into future leaders. She also benefits from their presence in the company. She learns what the next generation of workers want, observes new ways of working and uses of technology.
She has also learned from her experience as a woman in leadership. “I was and continue to be one of the few females on a team of leaders,” Cristine points out. “Generally, women have an advantage as leaders due to social wiring and traditional roles we fill outside of work.”
She also says that women listen, collaborate, and show empathy in the workplace. They often have caregiver responsibilities outside of work, which is why the day is streamlined and organized for maximum productivity. “There is no watercooler for women,” Cristine says with a smile.
“I recognize there are often bigger obstacles and fewer breaks for women in leadership and technology,” she adds. “I acknowledge it. Accept it. And then I dig in and do it.”
Advice to Aspiring Women Leaders
Cristine wants to see women writing a new narrative. Often, she hears about what is holding women back, the obstacles they face, and legacy expectations. She prefers to focus the narrative back to hear about what women bring to the conversation, leadership, and industry. “I work with men and I work with women,” Cristine says. “Each individual has the potential to make an impact, and a woman has to believe she can do that.”
She advises aspiring female leaders to put their energy into being the best version of themselves. She also suggests that they acknowledge who others see as leaders and pay attention to what others see as success. “You may not see or hear where you fit into that leadership paradigm,” she adds. “So, make sure to define who you are as a leader and step into that role.