Melissa Lee Dueñas, Senior Vice President, Director, Communications and Marketing, Leidos
According to Melissa Lee Dueñas, this year has been unbelievably productive thus far. In addition to navigating communications around two meaningful acquisitions for the company, Dueñas and her team also launched a mental health campaign that creates profound value for use.
“I am proud to say we envisioned this prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 has only amplified the need for action,” she said. “We are beginning our efforts to advance mental health solutions — starting of course with a focus on issues that are authentic to the Leidos mission, vision and business strategy.”
These include a focus on frontline health care worker post-traumatic stress during the time of COVID-19, continuing efforts related to opioids and substance abuse and building initiatives targeting anxiety and depression.
“Our ability to tackle problems as a company depends on our strong mental health,” Dueñas said. Especially considering untreated mental disorders now account for more than 10% of the total global burden of all disease and, that by 2030, depression alone will be the leading cause of disability around the world.
“This campaign is part of our effort to ensure that our employees can operate at their highest potential — by promoting lifestyles that foster mental well-being and modeling our efforts to our customers and partners,” she added.
Her team will tackle these areas by first communicating the challenge to Leidos’ stakeholders, collaborating with relevant partner organizations to deliver messaging.
“Placing this kind of value and focus on the people around you and their wellbeing — be they your colleagues, customers or neighbors — is a powerful thing,” Dueñas said. “These initiatives bring us the most valuable types of returns — loyalty, brand equity, customer affinity and a focus on inclusion that spurs innovation.”
Additionally, Dueñas said the events of 2020 require everyone to be better, stronger and faster at their craft; demanding the agility to let go of the world we used to live in, and making home in this new strange place we all find ourselves.
At the same, it’s critical to enhance the ability to track effectiveness by maturing metrics and related back-end marketing automation systems, while at the same time pivoting away from traditional tactics like in-person events and trade shows, she said.
“We must also bring those around us on this journey with us to ensure success,” Dueñas said. “We must all adopt an entirely fresh perspective about how we can interact with customers, and how we can best drive value for the business, while at the same time contributing to the well-being of the world around us.”
In 2020 so far, Dueñas and her team have communicated more than all of last year and are well on their way to doubling its throughput year-over-year. Continuing that pace, while steadying the ship for employees, and communicating aggressively to inform and inspire is the challenge.
Also in the next year, most companies will increase their efforts related to diversity and inclusion. Leidos added inclusion as a value in January, but its work has only just begun.
“The pain over the unconscionable and continued injustice and violence suffered by the African-American community is undeniable,” Dueñas said. “Each of us must do our part to effect change. Communications is a powerful change agent in times of uncertainty and transformation.”
As practitioners of this craft, Dueñas and her team will harness its creative energy to help the Leidos team find new ways to engage on these critical topics, enabling the company to move forward together in unity and compassion.
“This is the year to take action,” she said.