Heather Cook reinvents herself – again
by Scott Robertson
As a college student, Heather Cook was the first Roan Scholar to graduate East Tennessee State University. As executive director of the Foundation for Northeast State Community College, she oversaw an effort that more than doubled annual contributions. As executive director of Healthy Kingsport, she led the effort to have the city earn the Haslam administration’s Healthier City designation. As director of Marketing and Public Relations for the city, she played a large role in the organization and collaborations involved in the “Kingsport 100” centennial celebration. Now, Cook is taking on a more entrepreneurial role.
Cook & Co.: Moments to Milestones begins operations at the start of the new year. “It’s about employee engagement and customer service,” Cook says. “I will help craft the moments that lead a company to a particular milestone.”
Milestones are often about change, Cook says, “and change can be yucky. I can be the buffer. I do the change so everyone is mad at me and not the organization.”
The first problem Cook sees Cook & Co. eliminating for its clients is the need to handle employees who are unhappy being asked to do extra work to reach a milestone. The second is the actual logistics of running the project that leads to reaching the milestone. “Large milestone efforts can be deflating or disappointing because the idea of it can be so grand while you’re brainstorming, and that’s fun and exciting. But then it’s all downhill if you don’t have the right person facilitating each step to make sure all the pieces are in place so we still feel like apple pie and rainbows and unicorns when it’s over.”
Cook says she has the beginnings of a client list in place. “I’m targeting private sector companies and municipalities.” If clients are interested in a glorified party planner or traditional management consultant, she says, she plans to do something more. “We were in a meeting the other morning when someone used the phrase, ‘stay in their lanes,’” Cook says. “I said, ‘you know what? I just pour my own concrete day by day.’”