Monica is a consultant, project manager, applied professional coach, trainer and facilitator with over twenty years of experience in IT health projects, government and start-ups. Monica was CEO and Founder of Bluegrass Consulting and worked as an independent consultant. Monica’s latest project is working for Opportunities New Brunswick’s and leading the role out of their provincial connector program as Stakeholder Manager.
While pursuing her professional goals, Monica contributes to her community in a variety of volunteer roles including being on the board of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation as well as participating in a variety of non-profit working groups. Monica is passionate about changing the dialogue around leadership for women and helping make our communities and boardrooms more diverse.
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
My professional life has been an interesting and never boring journey! I have gone from working for large firms to boutique consulting firms as well as having my own consulting business to now working for Government. There are two things that I am most proud of professionally.
The first is the risk I took when I went out on my own as an independent consultant to have the flexibility I was looking for to co-parent my two amazing children. Even though it took me off of a traditional career trajectory, as many women are forced to do, I feel like I grew personally and professionally during that time. I had to get real about what I wanted for my life but was not ready to give up doing interesting work. This seemed to be the best fit as well as my only option at the time. My vision is that more options become available to women so that we don’t have to take ourselves out of the traditional game to find the flexible work options we require. I share the opinion that flexibility is the future of feminism and might actually be what millennials and retirees are looking for as well. If organizations could introduce more flexibility (in the real sense), Atlantic Canada would benefit from greater labour market participation and achieve the economic prosperity we are all want for our provinces.
The second thing I am most proud of, even if it is still a work in progress, is the provincial professional connector program I am leading for Opportunities NB based on the Halifax Partnership’s National Connector Program. I am proud to lead this initiative because it will have the most significant impact on many people’s lives of anything I have done professionally. ONB Connects aims to help newcomers and new local and international grads (Connectees) connect with business and community leaders (Connectors) to grow their professional networks. The program was launched in January 2018 and the response has been overwhelmingly positive! It’s an easy and meaningful way for our business and community leaders to give back and help our newcomers and new grads make professional connections to help retain them in NB.
What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
My vision for Atlantic Canada is one of accelerating economic growth and diversity. Eastern Canada will no longer be Canada’s best-kept secret 10 years from now. There is a shift happening around the narrative in Atlantic Canada. We are humble folk but our pride is finding its voice. We are on the cusp of a very different dialogue about the amazing career opportunities and the quality of life you can have in Atlantic Canada. We realize that the way of life we take for granted is, in fact, our winning proposition and sought after by billions of people around the globe. People are taking notice as we scream from the rooftops that you can have it all in Atlantic Canada. The next 10 years is the beginning of the rest of the country and the world “making their move” to Atlantic Canada.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
My greatest stage of growth was when I was trying to figure out how to balance my career goals with my parenting goals. Trying to make sense of how to do that led me to take risks and put myself out there in ways I never had before. That was when I went out on my own as an independent consultant. This served me well for many years but I always struggled with the fact that I felt out of the traditional game. I am not alone in feeling this way as many women exit the traditional workforce to raise their families. My biggest growth occurred as I began trying to re-enter the traditional workforce and not in the same sector. Even though I had worked as an independent for 10 years doing very interesting and challenging work, it seemed that it was difficult for organizations to make sense of my untraditional path.
This is when my passion for reinventing leadership for women sprouted. As a society, we tend to praise women in traditional CEO and executive positions (which is amazing) but we often forget to celebrate and recognize a different kind of leadership; the kind of leadership where women get to “paint” their own path and play by their own rules to create the life they want. I think we are missing an opportunity to celebrate women who take the leap of starting their own social enterprise, business, cause, or choosing to stay working at home with their family. It’s kind of like the notion of finding your purpose/passion in life. Most of us will never find their one driving passion and therefore feel like being curious is a failure. By not redefining leadership, I fear that we are having the same effect on women who are in fact true leaders for making different choices and leading in their own unique ways. We need to change the rules of the game and reinvent what leadership for women is in this new age.
What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
My favorite book is Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter. I wished I read this when I was a young women. It would have made me help sense of what I was feeling when I had children and was trying to figure out how to have meaningful work.
Social Advocate, Consultant, Feminist, Mother, Health and Nutrition Enthusiast, Personal Development Junkie