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colleen pon

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I feel at my best when I am learning, making connections and being of service. I enjoy building community and welcome stimulating conversations that will help us elevate together.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

Stories. I have been fortunate to have heard some amazing personal stories here that have really inspired me. Additionally, I've shared bits of pieces of mine with Ellevate and received an incredible and warm outpouring of support from others. I'm looking forward to keeping these positive conversations going.

How would you define your professional mission?

With a background in organizational development, change management, and communications, I’ve helped organizations navigate complex change and talent issues with creativity, sensitivity, and innovative problem-solving. My focus on leadership/talent development, inclusion and belonging, and building community and culture with a growth mindset has positioned me as a trusted advisor and partner.

I am driven to help people and organizations be their best selves to generate impactful business results. At the heart of it, I am passionate about helping individuals and organizations unlock their potential to be more productive and supported for success – key elements for a great place to work.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

An early work experience I had was being hired to transform a marketing group. I basically was brought in to fire, hire and overhaul. Though that was the intent, it didn't quite work out that way. I wanted to get to know the people, figure out what was working and what was not, repair relationships and got under the hood by learning their jobs so we can figure out together how we can do better. I'm proud to say that we did turn things around and did amazing work. I was brought into a challenging experience and learned I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. On a personal note, I started that job after just having my 1st baby and left that job before birthing my 2nd.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

very often in my career, I've been told to make something from virtually nothing. One of those was a leadership development program that raised the culture and employee engagement for my business unit. The program became a company-wide best practice that influenced our training department and other groups within the organization. I'm such a proud mama of the results from the cohort sessions I ran that I would happily share more if anyone ever wants to connect on it!

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

Regrettably, when I was growing up, I didn't even know most of the jobs I had existed. I started in public relations, but was always creative and moved into web management. This morphed into online marketing and communications. Eventually, I realized employee communications was so much more rewarding than external communications because I could observe and experience the immediate impact. This broadened into employee engagement programs where I focus on people development, well-being, inclusion and belonging and so many other areas that help us be at our best and help unlock our potential.

What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?

At the heart of it all, I'm a connector. I enjoy helping groups engage with their humanity; help transform the conversations people are having with each other to create more positive results and change; and strengthen our community.

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

It's an ongoing journey. I'd say it's less about the job than it is about the culture. I want to work for a company that values its people and learning, one that isn't afraid to challenge and innovate, an environment that is stimulating, fun and keeps me on my toes. It's my home away from home, I want to enjoy my work.

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Work-life is a constant challenge. I'm a working mom (which means I always need more sleep!) and after I had my 1st kid, my doctor said to me, "Time flies. You only get them for 18 years." Unfortunately, I had a job that required me to travel a lot. My oldest says I was gone for 1/2 the year when in actuality I was gone for 1/3, but I feel terrible that her memories of me are that I wasn't there for 1/2 the time. With Covid, I no longer travel and I want to be present for them as much as I can before the kids fly the coop.

If you have a no-fail tactic, please share your wisdom.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

Honor yourself. Create and enforce your boundaries.

I didn't learn about "boundaries" until too late and I was in burnout. Truthfully, our gut knows what's important and there were plenty of times I ignored it to not disappoint demanding bosses. For instance, I regret not putting my foot down to say 'I can't work this Mother's Day/Thanksgiving/etc.' and faced a lot of frustration and disappointment from the home front. Take the time to listen to yourself and your needs. Have the tough conversation that you need with your boss or spouse or whoever is making demands on you -- even if it's yourself -- to stay healthy and balanced.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.