MSM Global Consulting is a woman-owned small business founded in 2014 in Washington, DC. It offers a unique approach to organizational culture change by empowering organizations to achieve greater success through embracing equity, diversity, and inclusivity. MSM Global’s suite of services provides a holistic approach to organizational development, team capacity building, and leadership development.
MSM Global uses a customized, systems-based approach to focus on the specific challenges each client faces. By first assessing the current organizational and environmental landscape, then building a strategy with performance indicators, MSM Global develops solutions aimed at the “gap” between the current reality and the desired future.
A powerhouse of performance, Maria Morukian is the CEO of MSM Global. She has channeled her entrepreneurship dream into a full-fledged successful journey. Her core strength of navigating difficult concepts in an honest and compassionate way and integrating DEI principles has truly helped her mark her identity in the consulting industry.
A Face-off with Early Challenges
When she first launched MSM Global, Maria was still working full-time for another employer. She had spent her entire career in organizations, some quite large and hierarchical.
When Maria decided to fully invest her time and energy in MSM Global, she left a stable paycheck and a pretty advanced management position. It was challenging for her in the first year of running her business to let go of that identity of being an employee. She had always been part of a team and this was the first time she was fully on her own and responsible only for herself.
She struggled to shift from answering to other leaders to owning her identity as a business owner and thought leader. As MSM Globalhas evolved and grown, it’s been an ongoing journey for Maria to continuously redefine her role. She aims to serve the mission and also bring in people with skills and expertise that will be valuable in achieving the organization’s mission and vision.
A Timeline of MSM Global Since Foundation
Since 2016, MSM Global has seen exponential business growth, steadily doubling its revenue every year. The company’s number of clients has increased from about a half dozen in 2016 to an average of 20 mid to large-scale client projects per year.
MSM Global’s team has quadrupled in size and additionally, it now has a cadre of over twenty independent consultants who regularly partner with us on specific projects.
A Turning Point in the Growth Trajectory
Undoubtedly the Spring of 2020 triggered a leap forward in MSM Global’s growth. The combination of the Covid pandemic and the violent and visible killings of George Floyd and many others pushed DEI into the forefront of the collective consciousness. The demand for DEI practitioners far outweighed the supply, especially in terms of organizations that brought years of experience and well-tested approaches. It was an intense time, as Maria and her colleagues tried to respond to all of the requests for help and maintain the integrity of their approach.
MSM Global’s Success is a Measure of Staying True to its Mission and Vision
As a leader, Maria firmly believes in living in alignment with the organization’s mission and values. MSM Global’s team is sincere in its desire to help clients enact long-term change. And the company has the collective knowledge and expertise to do just that. It is methodical in its approach, taking time to build a relationship with clients, and particularly to explore all of the diverse perspectives and experiences of the workforce and communities the client serves.
MSM Global brings an adaptive mindset to its work, recognizing the importance of seeking the root causes of client challenges rather than addressing superficial symptoms. It believes in digging deep down to analyze and provide solutions rather than offering minimal support based on surface-level information.
More about Key Offerings and the DEI Differentiator Factor
MSM Global helps foster holistic organizational culture change for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Its services include organizational climate assessments, training, facilitation, coaching, and strategic consulting. What sets MSM Global apart is that it brings an integrative approach, helping its clients weave principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of organizational life – from recruitment and hiring to leadership development to policies and practices to products and services.
Additionally, it brings an attitude of curiosity so in the face of more abrupt change, the company can ask itself what it can do that would provide people with the most value, rather than getting caught in what is not possible. For example, when the Covid pandemic forced trainers and consultants into their homes and out of the classroom, Maria and her team immediately began to experiment with ways to make their virtual training interactive, psychologically safe spaces. It was able to create powerful learning environments by looking for all the ways to replicate what makes an effective in-person DEI learning experience in the virtual classroom.
A New Power-packed Initiative
MSM Global is currently working on launching Ember. This unique learning program offers a full suite of skills for aspiring DEI trainers and practitioners as well as a supporting community for DEI professionals at all stages of their journey.
Being a DEI practitioner is deeply rewarding but can take a huge toll on individuals committed to long term change. DEI professionals are often isolated, under-resourced, and undervalued in their organizations. Furthermore, many of them find themselves facilitating emotional, volatile conversations, holding space for people to expose and explore their traumas, and respond to or correct harmful behaviors.
Maria adds, “We exhaust ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For aspiring practitioners, there are very few high-quality programs for learning how to navigate these and the many other minefields we face in doing DEI work.
The vision for Ember is to go beyond a mere train-the-trainer experience. We want to ignite and sustain a community of individuals who have the skills and commitment to facilitate deep connections, foster healing, and enact change.”
Let’s Dive into Maria’s Professional Journey
Maria’s educational and professional backgrounds have always been centered around three core theoretical areas – organizational behavior and development, intercultural communication, and social justice.
Her deep interest and passion lie in supporting human connections at the interpersonal and institutional levels. She majored in Organizational Studies and Spanish at the University of Michigan and earned her Master’s in International Communication at American University.
She started her career in the nonprofit sector, providing DEI and intercultural training to nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and healthcare. She then moved to the U.S. Department of State and worked as a leadership development specialist at the Foreign Service Institute, where she provided training and coaching to leaders at all levels to enhance their ability to work more effectively in domestic and international settings. She then led the leadership and management practice for a training company called Management Concepts, providing client solutions and designing new content on DEI.
And then she launched MSM Global. Maria has also served on the faculty of American University’s School of International Service for almost a decade, where she leads graduate courses on intercultural communication, DEI, and organizational culture change.
Sharing the Key Achievements of her entrepreneurial journey, she states, “The biggest honor is having people trust me and my team to support them in courageous culture change. This work requires leaders to become vulnerable in a way many of them have never done before, to embrace uncertainty and prolonged discomfort. Knowing that our approach actually leads to deep and lasting change for individuals, teams, and organizations makes all the hard work worth it.”
Maria defines her Take on being an “Entrepreneur”
Entrepreneurs are innovators at their core. However, that doesn’t mean that they are responsible for coming up with new ideas or implementing those ideas all on their own. Maria’s belief is that the role of the entrepreneur is to bring forth a vision for a better future, then to bring together the people who can make that vision a reality, and cultivate the environment for them to thrive in progressing toward that vision.
Empowering others to drive the vision does not always come easily. Although a natural collaborator, Maria also often falls into the trap of feeling responsible for doing all the work herself. She has learned the art of delegating, which has unleashed her colleagues and collaborators to bring innovative solutions and approaches that have been invaluable to the company and its clients.
A Dream Team with a Collaborative and Compassionate Work Culture
Maria’s first priority is her team. They are the reason for MSM Global’s success. From Day one when a new team member joins MSM Global, the team sets collective goals and norms for how they will work together and communicate. All members of the team are actively involved in annual strategic planning and identifying measurable outcomes they feel are challenging but attainable.
Since the MSM Global team all work remotely and live around the country, building team time is crucial. The team meets every Monday for 30 minutes of coffee and chatting. No work conversations. Maria also holds weekly 1:1 meetings with each staff member to talk about what they have on their agenda, what support or guidance they need, and anything else that is on their mind. Most importantly, the team members regularly check in with one another, especially if one team member is having a tough time. Maria believes it is crucial to make time to laugh and let off steam, to vent when needed, and to provide moral support.
Maria concludes, “We also are not shy about giving and receiving feedback, and invite it as a way to make us all stronger.”
Serving and Safeguarding an Excellent Initiative
MSM Consulting has been working with the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since 2020 and has seen immense progress. What makes AAWA unique is its commitment not only to DEI as an organization but its desire to transform the animal welfare profession to embrace DEI and antiracism.
MSM Global has been embedded with the Association for two years, conducting assessments, engaging in strategic goal setting, and providing numerous learning opportunities for leaders across animal welfare. The level of interest and involvement in DEI conversations has skyrocketed, and it has heard from animal welfare organization leaders how valuable the training and initiatives have been as they try to enact DEI efforts in their communities.
An Overview of Maria’s Interests: Favorite Book, Source of Inspiration, Quote, a View on Vigilance, and Running the Rat Race
- Maria’s favorite book these days is The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki. Zaki is a professor of psychology and a neuroscientist at Stanford University who studies the concept of empathy. His book combines research and data with powerful stories of how people can leverage empathy to build human connections where they never thought it was possible.
- Maria’s source of inspiration is her father, Val Morukian. – He was a refugee who came to this country as a young man. He had to take care of his single mother and two sisters. He didn’t speak the language or know the culture. Yet he persevered and went on to earn a Master’s degree and become an educator. He was smart enough and driven enough to become a university professor, but he chose to teach history in an inner-city high school in Detroit. He showed so much love and compassion for his students, but he also challenged them in their learning. He was deeply curious and an avid reader. He always sought to make others feel seen and valued. Maria learned to be endlessly curious and compassionate and embrace lifelong learning.
- Maria’s is inspired by the story of Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. She led the company in new directions and also made environmental concerns and sustainability a major focus. Maria admires how Nooyi took a people-centered approach to her leadership and worked to create a culture where employees felt valued . She wrote letters to the parents of her leadership team and visited their homes to create a personal connection with them. Her combination of business savvy and warmth, along with a willingness to jump ahead of the pack when it came to environmentalism makes her an exemplary and innovative leader in Maria’s view.
- In Mary Oliver’s poem A Summer Day, one line that always lights Maria up is, “tell me what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s a reminder that we are on this earth for a short time and it goes fast so make the most of it! It inspires Maria to live with courage, compassion, and joy, and to (try) not to sweat the small stuff.
- Constant vigilance- a need or a strategy? Maria thinks it depends on what one chooses to be vigilant about! She believes vigilance is a strategy more than a need. In Maria’s opinion, there are times when vigilance may wane, especially if we’re being pulled to focus on family or community needs. Maria has found that when she becomes overly vigilant or hyper-focused on a goal or outcome, or a hypothetical situation that may have a very low probability of actually occurring, that vigilance turns to anxiety and stress, which depletes her. She believes in a healthy dose of vigilance balanced by opportunities to space out for a bit.
- It’s a rat race out there and Maria copes with it by staying fully focused on her core values and purpose. She tries to trust her intuition and listen to that small voice in her head that often provides gentle guidance when she is heading in the wrong direction or worrying about something incongruous with her values. She also surrounds herself with people she admires, who are kind, deeply intelligent, and optimistic.