Spitfire Strategies

Spitfire Spotlight: Mandi Osoba

Kristen Grimm

By Kristen Grimm

Mandi Osoba knows who she works for. Sure, Spitfire writes her paycheck, but as Vice President of Talent Development, Mandi considers herself the consultant to the staff, making sure they have everything they need to do their best work and deliver exceptional results for Spitfire’s clients. 

To Mandi, that means putting her fellow Spitfires first.

“I’m passionate about people waking up each day and wanting to come to work with a spring in their step,” she says. “That’s how I am in life in general, and I’m trying to make it happen for every member of the team here.”

Mandi joined Spitfire in late 2017, taking on a newly created position that’s both internal and external-facing. Her first few weeks on the job were spent conducting one-on-one interviews with every Spitfire, which she compares to a needs analysis.

The goal is to determine where there are gaps in talent development overall and what each Spitfire needs to excel individually — for the good of the company and its clients, as well as for their own personal career goals.

It’s different for everyone, Mandi says. Some members of the team might need a more balanced work life, while others might benefit from more training.

Mandi Osoba, VP of Talent Development

“The job is to understand what employees’ needs are so you can fulfill those needs,” she says. “And there’s no way you can be successful in this role without building trust, which means interacting with people so they feel comfortable and really open up.”

In a career spanning three continents and nearly two decades, Mandi has developed particular expertise in understanding diverse cultures and points of view. That’s been central to shaping her belief that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to talent development.

It also creates a strong foundation for one of her goals at Spitfire, which is to enhance a sense of inclusion for everyone. Sometimes, that’s as simple as placing the right lunch order.

“When we do staff meetings in America we get pizza for everybody, because everybody likes pizza, right?” says Mandi, a native of England. “The truth of the matter is that not everybody likes pizza. You have to look at things from different angles, to make sure we’re really being inclusive.”

A Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) and a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® facilitator, Mandi is shaping talent development initiatives to expand Spitfire’s roster of employee training programs — adding soft skills to the company’s existing hard skills training — while also looking for opportunities to enhance employee satisfaction along the way.

“To make sure you’re getting the best out of the team, they need to have their own voice,” Mandi says. “They need to know we’re looking out for their best interests and not just the best interests of the company.”

Mandi also leads new talent recruitment. She takes a strategic approach to identifying what Spitfire needs to best serve its clients, and then works on finding the ideal candidates for those roles.

“You have to take a step back and figure out, ‘What does Spitfire look like when it’s operating in its optimal space?’” she says. “Once we understand the organization’s needs, we can shape the recruiting strategy going forward.”

Mandi is a people-person outside work, too. A two-time cancer survivor, she is the founder of Mandi’s Cancer Aid Foundation, a charitable organization working to educate, assist and support women and men living with cancer, their families and the Nigerian community. She’s also a spokesperson for Susan G. Komen Maryland, and often shares her personal story to provide encouragement and hope to others on the cancer treatment journey. 

Throughout her career, Mandi has always recognized the value of individual contributions to an organization’s objectives, but she says that fact has only become clearer over time — and it’s central to her work at Spitfire.

“People are our greatest asset,” Mandi says. “I believe it’s really important to understand who those people are so we can create an environment that makes them excited to come to work every day.”

“This is a truly transformative program and there is no question that it is preparing leaders to be courageous communicators.”

- Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, The National Steinbeck Center

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