My Story

Don’t you feel sometimes that your life has so many facets that is difficult to summarize in a short bio? I do.

marcela 2016I believe in luck and also in hard work. For me, luck is something that happens when you are determined and present in the moment, paying attention to things that surround you and taking chances and leaps of faith when it’s needed. 

All my life I have made decisions that took me to good places, where I would meet the right people and ask for the right questions. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had bad times, it means that if I am present and authentic, my work will speak for myself. Some times I don’t feel like doing something, but I have learned to put a deadline to it and use my magic: Work until it’s done.  As Pablo Picasso says: Inspiration does exist, but it has to find you working.

I have always been a very determined person, with a strong personality and a difficult temper. As many teenagers, I went through a very long phase of being unhappy and making others’ lives difficult. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and really wondered if it was worthy of living it. My grandfather gave me advice, helped me to find a career that I wouldn’t hate (I wanted to be an archaeologist but the only university that offered that was in Mexico city and my family lived in the north of Mexico). We ended up choosing a program in Human Relations that had anthropology and sociology courses. I should say I wasn’t particularly happy about that program, but I didn’t have any better option, so I applied myself to it with the same logic: work until it’s done.

Back in 1995, my Organizational Development teacher asked us to create a Career and Life Plan. I worked on it, I had some clarity and got an internship with him in a Food Laboratory plant, where he was the Organizational Development manager. When my internship was coming to an end, I knew that I had to find a job to pay my tuition fees and my student loans. Accepting another internship (although I didn’t required it anymore for credit’s purposes) took me to a 12 years long career in one of the largest and more important companies in Mexico, in different areas of HR: compensations, organizational effectiveness, organizational development and change management.

Then in 2000, I got married to an amazing guy, a graphic designer, healer, and change practitioner, and our daughter was born after that. The violence in Mexico took unbearable proportions and we decided that it was time to leave the country. We chose Montreal, as we had been there on vacation a couple of years before. This was a very difficult transition. We had our own house in Mexico and didn’t have any referral from a landlord. Every apartment that we found rejected us because we were not even in Canada yet.  One day, I was talking to my colleagues at lunch and mentioned that I was very disappointed because the moving date was approaching and we couldn’t find an apartment. A friendly colleague offered me to contact his sister who lived close to Montreal and ask for her help. And she graciously opened her house to us. And that’s how I confirmed again that being present and authentic will open a lot of doors.

We sold our possessions and gave away what didn’t fit in the 9 bags of luggage we brought with us. The most difficult part was to say good-bye to our friends, families and pets. But again, being determined to make things work is an important piece of magic. I got my first job within the next month of my arrival.   I had created an online forum for immigrants and I asked for help. Someone told me they were looking for Customer Service agents at Monster, the job board, as they were opening their services in Latin America and I had the right combination of skills: HR background, recruitment experience, Spanish, functional English and some French. I have never had a Customer Service job before, but I knew I had to start somewhere. My job was interesting but I knew I needed something else. A friend asked me to coach her for a career change, as I had coached executives in the past. I took up the challenge and I have been doing it since 2008.

A client turned into two, and then more people were looking for my support, as they, like me, arrived to a new country and needed to reorient their careers, or reinvent themselves.  My next experience is what inspired me to help other people to design their lives with intention: I was promoted to manage the Customer Service and Learning and Development department, and I had to deal with another set of challenges: a role that was not exactly in my background, dealing with difficult people in my team and in the company, balancing a new career with the issues that come with immigration, and the fact that I was also studying a masters’ degree in Human Systems Intervention. Working through all these issues gave me a different understanding of myself and helped me to learn a new skill: applying Design Thinking to personal change. 

When I finished my master degree, I knew I had to leave Monster. I wanted to go back to Organizational Development or Learning and Development, and not a month after I formulated that thought in my mind, I was laid off. I was not ready for that change, but as many other challenges in life, we just need to deal with it. I spent 2 years reinventing myself, the first part of it, actually re-learning who I was.  I went to several interviews for roles related to OD, Learning and Development and Change Management as I had experience in those fields, but I had to deal with the challenges of French being my fourth language in a province where the first priority is around that language. I was not willing to go back to an entry level job, with almost 20 years of experience and a masters’ degree in the field.

While I was looking for a job, I started an aromatherapy company, which has been one of my passions, and then, my husband and I started a consulting company; we got clients who needed support in Social Media, Training and Change. As putting my language skills before my talent and career experience wasn’t going to work for me, I realized it was the time to make another change. I used the design thinking skills I learned from my husband, and decided to re-orient my career again. With renewed clarity and hope, I found the perfect job in Toronto, working as a coach and consultant in one of the largest universities in Canada, while trying to change the world, one project at a time.

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