Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
I’m so honored to be the Austin Chapter Co-President for Ellevate Network! I’m committed to helping companies and leaders create workplaces where people thrive, which in turn helps the company grow and prosper.
I’m the founder of two organizations — World Changing Women™ (www.worldchangingwomen.com) that supports womxn entrepreneurs to launch and scale ventures that make a positive difference, and People At The Center™ (www.peopleatthecenter.com), a boutique leadership coaching, training and organizational development consultancy. I’m currently focused on expanding my reach to help more leaders align with work that inspires them, get that raise or promotion they deserve, and make a bigger impact.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I joined Ellevate in January of 2020, and what draws me to serve this amazing community is my dedication to helping women get ahead. Being the Austin Co-President is a great way for me to give back to my community, but even more than that I am personally filled up by my interactions with the incredible women here! Ellevate is unlike any women’s group. I have found more authentic connection and alignment than with any other group I’ve been a part of.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
As a professional executive coach and organizational change facilitator, I believe someone has to have lived the experiences they are coaching someone through — not all of them, but some basic experience as a senior manager, and business leader, if not a business owner, comes in handy. I’ve had so many personal experiences of change, from growing up a military kid and moving over 40 times, to living in 7 countries, to being promoted to Director and VP, to starting several businesses in Canada and the US, I can really relate to the challenges that my client’s face.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
Even though I’m a master of change, I think that everyone is sensitive to the uncertainty of our world and changing economic climate, not to mention unforeseen environmental challenges. One career challenge I’m working on is building resilience into my business so that I could survive any storm. This means being financially savvy, planning ahead and being a master of innovation. An interesting development for the industry of coaching is artificial intelligence. Though I don’t think that robots will be able to replace humans as far as assisting leaders to face increasing complexity, there are some practical ways to integrate AI into learning. These are some of the things I’m considering for my business in the near future.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
After graduating from the University of Texas in 1993 with a degree in graphic design, I spent three years living in Tokyo and teaching ESL, while also helping my boyfriend with his software business. It was an exciting time and I got to travel all around the globe. I then moved to Austin, Texas and talked my way into a “director of marketing” position with a very small company, using that part-time experience with the software company to back me up. I knew I had plans to move to NYC, and that I needed something other than “english teacher” on my resume. After about a year, I moved to New York City and, through a personal connection, landed a job in a small advertising agency as the Director of New Media. I studied long and hard in the evenings and on weekends to educate myself in advertising account management, strategy, planning and the new digital advertising technologies that were getting launched at that time (1999). We were all pretty much making it up as we went along, convincing our advertising clients that they needed new websites and that they should be integrating IT systems like touchscreens into their workplaces.
It was an amazingly exciting time. I jumped around to a few companies in those next 5 years because there weren’t many people who knew digital marketing, and I could increase my salary by $20-40K with each move. I’d typically go into a company, help them get their department set up and then move on after a year or two. I hit the pinnacle of my career at 35 as a Director of Client Services in a Park Avenue ad agency. I had the salary, I had the shoes and the suit, I had the Empire State Building view, and I was miserable. I ended up taking a year-long sabbatical to study coaching, psychology and the science of motivation in India, Germany, Israel and Cyprus.
After this life-changing year, I needed a major change of scenery, so I moved to a small town in Canada and ran a digital marketing agency there, while running my coaching business on the side. After three years, I could sponsor my own visa in Canada and I started my coaching and organizational consulting business full time. This was a huge big-girl-panties moment, requiring me to face the ups and downs of starting a business and being my own boss, but once I tasted the freedom of that I couldn’t look back. After 7 years in Canada, I decided I wanted to live in Northern California and run my practice from there. After two years, my dad got his cancer diagnosis and I moved to Austin, TX to be closer to family.
I’m happy to say that my business is very solid and I’ve seen 200% growth through the pandemic. I rebranded as “People At The Center” last year and I’m thrilled to get to work with inspiring, boundary-pushing leaders around the world today!
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
I hope to obliterate, “I hate Mondays” as a saying. I believe that every human being can love the work they do, be fulfilled by it and the relationships they build there. I believe it’s the responsibility of employers to prioritize the growth of their employees. I know I won’t see this fully come to fruition in my lifetime, but my life is dedicated to this as my professional mission.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
When I was about 30 years old, working in New York City’s Advertising/IT world, I had climbed the ranks to Director. I had 20 direct reports and I was accountable for my department’s P&L. The company I worked for was incredibly innovative and I have always been an overachiever, so I started bringing in coaching philosophy and practices to my work as a manager. I clearly recall the day I was called in and told that I was putting too much emphasis on “growing my people” personally and professionally, that I was being too kind and that I probably just needed to fire some of my team members. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a coach full time, and that my managers really didn’t get it. Thankfully the world of business has evolved in the past 20 years and now terms like, “people first” and “people-centric” and “DEI” are common practice. I have seen first hand how putting people’s learning and development at the center of your business strategy gives you a total competitive advantage.
What does success look like to you?
To me success looks like living a life of fulfillment, joy, inspiration and authenticity that I get to share with others. With my company, I aim to be able to employ others to join my team, and to grow to be a comfortably small business. I currently give back through B1G1.org, and success looks like always having enough to be a contribution to others who are less fortunate.
What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?
For ladies wishing to break into executive coaching and organizational change/development work, I'd advise spending time as a leader inside of an organization first. I think this is way more important than an advanced degree, to be honest. I think it's super important to spend time in your clients' shoes. I also advise coaching as many people as you can before you hang your shingle as a coach. One reason for this is, you're going to find out what personality types and what stages of life or business you enjoy coaching. Coaching is different from other professions in that you've GOT to love who you are coaching! This can't be just a job, or you'll never be successful. A coach must walk their talk, so it's important that you constantly be working through your own blind spots and challenges personally and professionally, so hire your own coach, or even better a mentor coach. And go for it!
What is the best career advice you ever received?
We’ve all heard the old adage, “leap and the net appears”, but my former mentor had a turn on this phrase… “leap and the cliff disappears”. What I’ve learned through my career is that as long as I’m following my intuition and inner wisdom, when I take those seemingly big leaps, I look back to see there never really was a cliff there to begin with. Taking the jump is the hard part, and the pieces fall into place once you’ve trusted yourself enough to make the leap! So...Believe in yourself. Dare to dream. And go for it!
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Founder & Principal
People At The Center
I work with purpose-driven leaders and their teams as an Executive Coach, Trainer and Change Facilitator. I'm committed to helping business cultures evolve to be more trusting and humane, so that every person feels honored and valued at work, while companies make even bigger leaps and bounds toward their goals. "A business is only as strong as it's people", is something you'll hear me say a lot. "Let's give your people the best opportunities we... Continue Reading
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