Principal Hensley Evans (Zurich) started her career at an economic “think tank” to gain real-world experience before pursuing a Ph.D. in economics, but quickly realized she wasn’t excited about the work she was doing. A family friend encouraged her to leverage her deep analytical and modeling expertise to start a career in consulting.
“I struggled because I was working in a world of hypotheticals,” said Hensley. “I was drawn to consulting because of the opportunity to collaborate with others to develop solutions to real business problems and see the impact of my work.”
She landed a job at a large professional services firm and embarked on what became a 30-year consulting career. After working at several consulting firms and even taking a detour to the agency side, Hensley joined ZS in 2013 to establish our patient team.
“I’ve found that people in our industry come with fierce curiosity and hunger for new experiences, which is why I love my work at ZS,” said Hensley. “Every day I am continuously learning and tackling intellectual challenges and looking for new and innovative solutions – I’m never solving the same problem twice.”
Today, Hensley leads ZS’s Patient and Consumer Health Practice Area where she helps clients deliver better experiences, solutions and outcomes to patients around the world. In addition to her work, Hensley is actively involved in the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) and has been a driving force for many important initiatives over the years, most recently being our ambitious goal to achieve equal gender representation across our firm.
Outside of work, Hensley and her partner, Jason, are the proud parents of their 12-year-old daughter Kaia, who inspires her to be a strong leader and role model every day.
Hensley’s expertise, inquisitive nature and approachable leadership style helped landed her a spot on Consulting magazine’s coveted 2019 Women Leaders in Consulting list in the Excellence in Leadership category.
What three characteristics are most important in a leader?
The first is listening. As a leader, you need to be open to hearing the perspectives of those around you.
Second is serving. Someone once told me the real test of leadership is if you’re making the jobs of the people doing the work easier. I believe a leader should serve his/her team by enabling them to do great work.
Finally, decisiveness. At the end of the day, after you listen to diverse perspectives and enable your team to do great work, someone will say, “Here’s what we think, how should we proceed?”. You must recognize that you won’t always make the right decision but being willing to make a clear decision and provide direction to your team is what makes you a leader.
After many years working with clients and being exposed to other organizations, what makes ZS a great place to work, particularly women?
I think ZS brings together a couple of things that are unique in the consulting world. The first of which, is true intellectual curiosity. Many organizations are full of smart people, but at ZS, there's a genuine interest in getting information, learning and pressure testing ideas. There are also few, if any, “divas” at ZS because that type of personality doesn’t mesh with ZS’s culture. ZSers have a sense of humility where even the most knowledgeable experts will ask for others’ perspectives – creating an environment where everyone contributes to the solution, despite tenure or level.
Finally, our core values – treat people right, get it right and do the right thing. When I joined ZS, I put a business plan together. After walking Graham Webster, our Chief Financial Officer, through my plan, he said, "Great. What do you need from me?" I was waiting for him to weigh in and “approve” my plan. He told me, “You’re a principal and a partner of the firm – be confident in executing your plan because we trust you’ll do the right thing.” It was something I had never experienced in my career. Our culture is unique and entrepreneurial, and we trust our people as professionals.
How have you navigated a successful career at ZS and in what ways have you advocated for yourself over the years?
When I interviewed for ZS, I was living in the Hudson Valley, which was more than two hours away from the closest office in New York City. I said that I would be in the office every time I needed to work with a team or client, but I planned to work from home whenever it wasn’t essential for me to be there in-person. ZS really lived up to our core values. No one mandated how many days I could or couldn’t work from home. I advocated for the flexibility I needed and got it, which was crucial for me to manage my family and personal life. Now that I live in Zurich, I have a 10-minute commute and it’s nice to be in the office more. Though I don't work from home as much today, that flexibility was what allowed me to create a successful career at ZS.
Give your 25-year-old self a piece of advice.
Take some time off between jobs. It’s something I never did – and still haven’t – because I was always so eager to move on to my next opportunity. Looking back, I wish I had given myself three months to travel the world or do something totally different before I got married and had a kid (and a mortgage!).