I never had a master plan for my career. I didn’t have a clear view of ‘What I wanted to be when I grew up’, and therefore how I would need to skill myself up for that. I was awarded a bursary at the end of school which took me into the world of education, which I loved. After university I literally fell into the variety of opportunities that presented themselves.
My career hasn’t been all about skills and capability, because I’ve never really been focussed on that. I’ve only ever been focused on being awake and curious. And really open. And I think my openness and curiosity is what attracted and presented the doors that have opened in my career. I would step through those doors that opened, and things would happen.
I always felt I’ve carried an entrepreneurial spirit, but I wouldn’t have called it that. I was focused on exploring, improving and reinventing. As a result, I’ve had a variety of careers in my working life, and now I am running my own business, Blue Seed Consulting. The skills I have today have been building blocks, expanding and extending on one another throughout my career.
My venture into my own business was a bit of a push and pull. I didn’t have a blueprint in mind of what I was planning to do, but I knew I wanted to be open to other opportunities, and to grow and play more, in the creative sense. I knew it was time for me to do something different and so I just backed myself and I focused on taking off and soaring. The push came from finding myself in a place where I had less energy and enthusiasm, and I knew I wanted to change that. So I wasn’t ambitious in the traditional sense, where I had a set dream and ambition, and would do anything to get there. It was more of a fluid emergence and creative breakthrough… with determination to create something great, and shiny eyes that could only see possibility.
I am grateful for every one of the landscapes that I stepped into throughout my career. There were times where I felt completely unprepared because I did not have the specific skills base or experience, but I’ve always managed to make it work. I can only put that down to how I showed up as a person. I’ve always been unapologetically open about what I don’t know, so I guess it is something in my character not to pretend to be something I’m not.
I have a propensity for trying new things and a determination to make them work, and doors seem to open for me because of this mind-set. My Mum always said about me that I’d jump (or be thrown) into the deep end and before long I’d be synchronised swimming. She was right. I would step into the open door and say, “I don’t have this credential, but I do have these other skills and I know how to work with them as my strengths. Let’s have a go!”
Over time I grew to realised that I had developed quite a diverse skillset. And key people saw things in me that propelled me forward. A great example is when I was sought out to be Marketing Manager for Nando’s UK, just as it was expanding into the UK market. I had never been a marketing expert, nor had I studies anything in that space beyond a short PR post-grad course. But the CEO saw something in me and backed me, so I was able to back myself. That’s what we need to see more of in business today – I always look for opportunities to harness the spark and magic in people (and my coaching works serves into that too!).
With Blue Seed Consulting, I’ve enjoyed the ability to create something from nothing. It really does feel incredible. It has been a lot of hard work and learning along the way, and when you see the results it’s very rewarding. We have a team of 20+ Blue Seeders now, our growth has been steady with really purposeful work – it’s been quite exciting.
I am constantly reinventing and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Throw in the parenting juggling act and I have my arms full of messy magic but I wouldn’t swap any of it.
If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change what I have done, but I would seek out support earlier than I always have (that bullish and determined South African work ethic can be a curse!) and I’d back myself more from a younger age … but I think that comes, genuinely, when you’ve sprouted a few grey hairs!
Key Insights: Openness, curiosity, exploring, trying new things and reinventing can open doors in your career. Back yourself, focus on your dreams and be open to creative breakthroughs. Be constantly learning, and playing to your strengths. The skills you are developing will build upon one another. Never stop exploring and keep on reinventing!
Chantäl’s passion is enabling change to happen really intelligently. Her passion for making a difference has propelled her through more than 18 years in Change Consulting. She is a seasoned and well regarded practitioner in the field of human potential – as a change management practitioner, a master facilitator and educator in change and a qualified leadership coach, helping leaders face into uncertain times and create readiness for change.
She is co-Managing Director of her own Change Management Consultancy, Blue Seed Consulting, which was listed on the top 100 fastest growing businesses in late 2015.
For the Global CMI Board she is the Thought Leadership Ambassador.
And as a practitioner, she is both strategic and practical – she helps shape sensible strategies and loves the nitty gritty of making change happen with entirely fit-for-purpose approaches, and is obsessed with sustainable business change outcomes.
Her approach has morphed from the early days of ‘doing and teaching’ to her current approach which is ‘questioning and enabling’. She tells me the latter is much more challenging and requires ‘change intelligence’, which she practices and talks about in her keynote presentations. Chantäl juggles being a working Mum, business owner, consultant and coach, which in itself requires full throttle change intelligence!
What I’ve heard about Chantäl is that she cares deeply about living with kindness and courage, especially in the corporate environment! Her life’s purpose is affecting change – not only at organisation and team levels but also at individual and personal levels.
About Blue Seed Consulting
The Blue Seed team is deeply experienced and passionate in change. As a boutique Change Management consultancy we care most about sustainable business outcomes during changing times. We thrive on partnering shoulder-to-shoulder with your teams to co-design and help embed integrated change programs that consider your whole system, and deliver business returns through people.
We do things differently and we call this ‘change intelligence’ – a blend of wisdom, curiosity, creativity and speed. We don’t have ‘one we prepared earlier’ and you won’t find us managing change from behind a computer screen. Rather, we use our deep expertise to assess what’s needed and apply fit-for-purpose approaches, delivering them flawlessly.