In lead human resources roles at corporate giants like CNN Worldwide and Warner Bros. Discovery, Mary Washington alumna Lisa Greene ’91 learned to anticipate crises and help teams of thousands maneuver through them.
She also learned a thing or two about burnout.
“We all experience stress; there’s no way you can avoid stress,” said Greene, who points in particular to 2020, when she saw CNN through an election year and a pandemic. “Burnout is something much more chronic, where you’re really out of alignment with what you truly want to be doing. It starts to wear you down.”
Now the head of her own Connecticut-based company, Lisa Greene Consulting LLC, she’s back on track, using lessons she learned as a psychology major at Mary Washington to do more of the work she loves – executive coaching and short-term consulting. She’ll share her story tomorrow when she returns to her alma mater as the 2023-24 Psychology Graduate-in-Residence. Her talk, a free public lecture called “Not This: A Tale of Burnout” – originally scheduled for last fall – will take place on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 4 p.m., in the Hurley Convergence Center Digital Auditorium.
“It starts with awareness and really taking the time to understand how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way,” said Greene, who during her UMW visit will also present about her human resources work to classes and speak to students interested in pursuing related careers. “If a college student could learn early on to be mindful of some of the ways I got to that point, they might be able to avoid getting there in their own careers.”
As a young college student herself, Greene had a couple key lightbulb moments at Mary Washington when she arrived on campus in the late ’80s. A bustling Ball Circle on a beautiful day told her she’d found the right school, and a course called “psychology of business” – a precursor to today’s “human resources” – got her started on a career path.
“It was thinking about how the brain works, how we explain human behavior … but at work,” she said. “What does that look like when people are at their jobs?”
After graduation, Greene worked at consulting and investment firms, transitioning to CNN in 2009. She was promoted to senior vice president of human resources at CNN Worldwide in 2015 and to chief human resources officer of Warner Bros. Discovery in 2019. There, she led a team of people across the U.S., Europe and Asia, with more than 7,000 employees at all entities of CNN Worldwide, Turner Sports and Bleacher Report. Last year, Greene opened her own consulting firm, where she advises C-suite executives and provides leadership coaching, organizational consulting and crisis management.
The Graduate-in-Residence program began in 1995 as part of career advising within the Department of Psychological Science. Each year, the faculty invites an alum who is engaged in interesting work within the field of psychology to campus to introduce psychology majors to UMW graduates working in the field. For more information about the Graduate-in-Residence program, contact the Department of Psychological Science at (540) 654-1054.
Photo courtesy UMW