The Aesop team continues to grow! We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to the Aesop team, Ben Mennis!
Ben brings a wealth of strategy experience, having most recently served as the Senior Corporate Strategy Manager at Eastman, where he supported both enterprise and business unit strategy. He led the development and execution of strategic projects with both product and people implications across Eastman’s various business lines. Prior to Eastman he spent several years as a hospital administrator at a 300-bed facility within Bon Secours Health System. He managed various departments with responsibility for P&L, capital deployment, and people leadership within his organizations.
In true Aesop fashion, we spent some time getting to know Ben. Here’s some highlights!
OK, Ben – if we weren’t focused on your professional career, how would you introduce yourself and what would you say that best describes you as a person?
While I’m originally from New York, I now call Tennessee home with my wife and three little girls. Most of my free time is spent with my girls, but when I have some time to spare, I really enjoy fitness in any format. Most of the time it’s running, lifting, or hiking in the Appalachian Mountains. Fortunately, keeping up with three kids under eight is a fitness challenge in itself – so I get plenty of overlap between those two interests. I’m also very involved in my church and get to do plenty of service and volunteering through that. Last thing is I’m a bit of a biology nerd, in my rare remaining spare time I really enjoy digging into the tech and business sides of biotech and synthetic biology.
How did you end up here today, joining Aesop?
I studied health science in undergrad and healthcare administration in grad school. My first role was as a hospital administrator where I ultimately had P&L ownership and people leadership for various support departments (radiology, lab, housekeeping, etc.). While that was an exceptional experience in a very operational function, I wanted to elevate my skill set to include more pure strategy work, which led me to the corporate strategy team at Eastman Chemical.
I generally describe my role at Eastman as being an internal management consultant – the team there leads development and execution of strategic projects across Eastman’s 10+ business units. This was an excellent opportunity for me learn to partner with business unit and executive leadership, define and clarify strategies, and design solutions around those strategies. My role also included owning and improving the team’s recruiting process, competency model, and new hire coaching process.
The combination of high-level strategy development plus applied day-to-day operational management gives me a useful perspective on what makes organizations work (or not work) that I’m excited to apply at Aesop.
How come you chose talent assessment?
First and foremost, I love people. Finding ways to help people flourish and grow is one of the most satisfying things I do. So, as you’d expect my favorite projects in my previous roles were ones where I studied people and made recommendations on how to influence behavior, help them be more effective, etc. My roles at the hospital and Eastman afforded me plenty of reps re-organizing teams, managing hiring processes, and modifying roles and responsibilities, but it was still just a part of the broader operations and strategy mix. It’s incredibly valuable to have all that exposure to product management, sales strategy, marketing frameworks, portfolio strategy, etc. – but I’m really excited to dig into a more focused talent role where I can spend all my time zeroing in on finding ways to help people thrive in their roles, and help their organizations grow accordingly.
What would you say you’re most proud of in your career so far?
Let me answer this one from two perspectives. From a personal pride point of view – when I was working in the hospital, we had annual awards and my second year there, of the 2000+ employees, I was given the MVP award for my work in employee engagement and general leadership. The award was nothing more than a simple certificate and a round of applause, but I’d put a lot of work into improving the work environment and having a deliberately supportive culture. Hearing that my coworkers valued that work felt great.
From a “proud of people I’ve worked with” point of view – I’m proud of the success many of my mentees from my prior role have found. I won’t name names, but as an example, an individual I worked with, coached, and mentored went from being fresh out of a generally unknown school to joining a top tier strategy consulting firm. It’s gratifying seeing people I coach and mentor hustle, take good feedback, and use it to go out and kick butt!
What would you have done differently?
I would have studied organizational strategy sooner! In the first few years of my career, I did a lot of “on the job,” real time learning which included making some mistakes and missing some opportunities, in particular on the organizational/talent side. While all those mistakes were ultimately corrected, more upfront study and application of organizational best practice earlier on could have substantially shortened the time to success.
What are you most looking forward to about joining Aesop?
First, I’m looking forward to working with the team. One of my highest priorities when I was looking at new jobs was to find a team that was kind, smart, really good at what they do, and liked to geek out on their domain. Aesop checked those boxes nicely and I’m really excited to be a part of that kind of team. Second, it may be cliché, but I’m excited to dig into the work and start adding value for our clients!
OK, speed round, you know the drill…
What’s your favorite junk food?
Do Chic-Fil-A nuggets count? If so then definitely those.
What’s your favorite sports team?
BYU Cougars Football
Who would play you in the movie about Ben?
I’m going to go with Rob Lowe, assuming he reprises his Chris Traeger character from Parks and Rec. I tend to be optimistic, energetic, into fitness, and enjoy the work I do, similar to Chris.
Finally – if you could be any animal, what would you be, and how come?
An eagle, it would be incredible to be able to soar like that.
We’re confident we’ll hit great heights together.