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Ettel Feinberg: Empowering Others To Achieve Their Full Potential

A staple of the 2019 Evolution Leadership Conference is my leadership development program, 10 New Leaders Project.

Applicants were asked to complete an essay answering the question, “How would your participation in this program help you achieve purpose?” We recently shared an essay from Julie Walker, Executive Director of the Peyton Walker Foundation and from Lucas Salter – who is an Account Leader at Wenger Feeds.

I’m delighted to share another essay from a participant in the program this year. I hope you’ll enjoy this piece written by Ettel Feinberg who is the Manager of Employee Experience at U-GRO Learning Centres.

“Why am I here?” This is a question that has been pondered since the beginning of time, by many seeking to understand their purpose. Webster defines purpose as ‘the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists’. I firmly believe that while our priorities change throughout the various stages of our lives, if we continually work towards goals aligned with our core values, we will move forward in the direction of fulfilling our greater purpose. I believe that my participation in this program would help me to advance in my pursuit of transforming the employee experience, and thereby help me to achieve what I feel is my purpose in life – positively impacting the world around me, by empowering others to understand and achieve their full potential.

Like many others, my childhood and adolescent years were no walk in the park. During my time in the foster care system right here in Central PA, I witnessed first-hand the kind of situations and circumstances that many children and adolescents find themselves in, often at no fault of their own, but unable to control. During my time at the temporary children’s shelter, I spent quite a bit of time in the ‘school’ room at the end of the hallway, where all the children spent their days, before retreating back to the living quarters for the evening. I recall most clearly, as if it was only yesterday, the hours in that classroom that I spent with Nate, a fifteen year old boy who could not yet read. I was sixteen at the time, and while I was initially baffled as to how he had reached this age without being able to read at the level of a second grade child, I realized that my pity would get him nowhere; instead, I pushed all sense of judgement aside and chose to focus only on the task at hand – to help Nate realize that he was smart, he was capable, and that he could achieve anything that he set his mind to. As the weeks went on, Nate’s reading abilities improved, and in a place that I had once felt so powerless, I found myself feeling a real sense of purpose. I wish I could provide a perfect ending to that story, but it was only a matter of weeks before I was placed in another foster home, and never saw or heard about Nate again. I sometimes wonder how he turned out – did he continue to read? Was there someone there to believe in him?

I would be lying if I said that I was never resentful of my circumstances at the time, but when I look back on those years, I honestly would not change a thing. I didn’t know it then, but these unique experiences allowed me to build a deep appreciation and understanding for others, especially those in less fortunate circumstances, and begin to find my purpose. Many years later, I now find myself in a position in which I have the ability to impact the employment experience of hundreds of people, and what could be more significant than the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours?

I joined U-GRO Learning Centres in 2016 as the Recruitment & Engagement Specialist, and for over two years, I thrived in the role – it was a perfect fit for me. As time went on, however, I realized that there was only so much I could realistically achieve as an individual contributor, so as luck would have it, I was promoted to a newly created position this past September, as the Manager of Employee Experience. In this position, I am responsible for managing our HR team, with a primary focus of providing a best-in-class experience for our fantastic team members; From the moment they first hear of U-GRO, through the moment they move on to their next professional endeavor, ensuring a positive, meaningful employee experience! The past 9 months in this role have allowed me to learn and grow more than I ever thought was possible, but there is still so much more learning to be had!

I truly believe that all people have the ability to achieve success when the circumstances are right, and since the factor that most often impacts the success of an employee is their direct manager, ensuring that our managers are practicing servant leadership will be key in continuing to transform and provide a best-in-class employee experience. I want to be able to inspire others to lead with a servant heart, and while it comes naturally to some, it is a challenge for others. I would like to focus on further developing my leadership skills so that I can most effectively model and pass on these vital traits.

I am confident that, if selected for the opportunity to participate, I would not only learn from and contribute to the group during the program, but continue to pay it forward in all aspects of my professional, as well as personal life moving forward. Thank you in advance for your consideration – I am truly grateful!

Learn more about Ettel and all of our new leaders by clicking here.

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