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my career

What is your full name and title? And how long have you been in this role?

Vanessa Judelman, president of Mosaic People Development. I have been in this role since April, 2010.

What exactly do you do?

I am a trainer, facilitator and coach. I work with organizations to help them develop great leaders and build collaborative teams. I design and deliver training programs to help leaders in organizations to give difficult feedback, to delegate and manage their time, to communicate effectively, to be strategic, to manage change and to build a strong team that can implement their vision.

I don't focus on the technical side of a leaders' job – that they learned in university or on the job. I focus more on the people side, helping leaders to get great results through their people. I do this work in group training sessions but also one-on-one in private coaching sessions.

Describe what you do on any given day.

One day I could be delivering a workshop to a group of young leaders who were never taught how to manage people. I could also be spending a half-day with a group of senior leaders, teaching them how to manage change or be more strategic. Another day, I could be delivering a keynote speech on leadership at a summit for female leaders. I could also be sitting down, one-on-one with a leader to coach him or her through an issue that is limiting their effectiveness in the job. If I'm not with clients, I'm working in my home office on marketing, business development, writing my blog or my e-zine.

What's your background and education?

I have a bachelor of arts and education from McGill University. I also have a masters degree in human resource management and training from Leicester University in England. I went though an intensive 12-month process to become a certified coach through the Coaches Training Institute in California.

How did you get to your position?

When I graduated from the education program at McGill, there were no jobs for teachers. So, I worked as an educator teaching at-risk youth for a year. I was then hired by MICA Consulting Partners, where I worked for nine years. I started as a client service co-ordinator supporting the vice-president of consulting. After eight months, she promoted me to an account manager role. From there, I became an account director and finally a consultant.

After working in a consulting company for nine years, I thought it would advantageous to gain some experience working inside an organization. Consequently, I took a position at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. For the next five years, I built and developed the organizational development and learning department there. It was an amazing experience. I gained a tremendous amount of business acumen and was fortunate enough to work with and learn from two of the best leaders in Canada – Claude Lamoureux and Bob Bertram [former chief executive officer and former chief investment officer, respectively].

With over 14 years of corporate experience under my belt, I finally felt prepared to actualize my dream and start my own company. Plus, I have two young children and working from a home office has given me the flexibility I desire.

What's the best part of your job?

First, I get to work with amazing, talented people. Second, the work I do is transformational. I help leaders to be more successful and more fulfilled at work. I guide them to take risks, overcome fears, try new things, and over all, be more effective on the job.

What's the worst part of your job?

Juggling. Working as a solopreneur means that I touch every aspect of the business. I am the marketing department, communications department, sales department, social media department, accounting department and consulting team all rolled into one. My goal for 2013 is to get an assistant to take some of these tasks off my plate.

What are your strengths in this role?

When delivering training in front of a diverse audience, anything can happen. I've learned to think on my feet, improvise and engage people with various learning styles. Knowing that people learn when having fun, I can also design and deliver a presentation for three to 300 people that is both informative and entertaining. Finally, in my line of work, it is critical to be able to connect with people and sometimes even push them out of their comfort zone to ensure they are performing at a high level.

What are your weaknesses?

Social media, or should I say, keeping up with social media, is the biggest challenge for me. I have embraced Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, yet I always feel like I should be using technology more. For example, a friend told me yesterday that there is a fabulous iPad app that allows users to leverage a stylus and write notes on the screen at the front of the training room. It's on my "to-do" list to investigate this technology so I can toss out my "old school" flip charts once and for all.

What has been your best career move?

Moving from consulting to actually working in a company. It gave me the opportunity to be a manager and a leader and actually experience the issues that my clients struggle with daily. It also gave me a view to how organizations function, how decisions are made, how politics and change are managed.

What has been your worst career move?

Not leaving a job sooner when I had a manager who was terrible and had a big, negative impact on my ability to perform my job well.

What's your next big job goal?

To write a book. I am really invested in teaching leaders how to be as effective as possible. With a great leader, anything is possible. With terrible leaders, a team culture can become very toxic. I'd like to write a book on this topic.

What's your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Have a five-year plan. I didn't just open my own business; I worked for 15 years to gain the experience necessary to really excel. Also, love what you do. My clients always comment on the passion and enthusiasm I bring to my work. My work really makes me feel like I'm contributing to society in a positive way.

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