Experienced finance executive pays it forward

Heidi Lewis Ivey has been a Career Collaborative volunteer for nearly eight years, preparing participants for job interviews, presenting during Lunch and Learn sessions, and leading business learning workshops. 

Heidi found Career Collaborative while working at Bank of New York Mellon, where she was a vice president of investment manager services and looking for opportunities to mentor young women just starting out in the banking industry. As a Black woman in a profession overwhelmingly populated by white men, she faced additional obstacles to success outside of the simple challenges of the work.

“I really wanted to help a Black woman just starting out who could learn from my experiences so they wouldn’t have to walk the same route I walked,” Heidi says. 

As a VP, Heidi was well positioned to offer someone else the guidance and mentoring she lacked as a young professional. While she never did find an organization that matches experienced businesswomen with younger women, she did find Career Collaborative, where she has not only had the chance to work with Black women but has found “the opportunity to work with people of all races and ethnicities to be incredibly fulfilling.”

The Career Collaborative approach to career readiness also matches Heidi’s. “What I really like about the program is that the people who come to Career Collaborative have to do the work to succeed,” says Heidi, who is now a business engagement manager at Wells Fargo. “I’m a firm believer in the old saying that if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he'll eat for life.” 

That work—teaching people the skills they need to achieve independence through a career—is something Heidi excels at. She recalls a recent coaching session with a woman who had an excellent résumé and in-demand skills. “I really couldn’t figure out why she didn’t have a job,” says Heidi, noting that program participants sometimes need assistance explaining gaps in their work history or coaching on how to demonstrate that they’re qualified for a job—but that wasn’t the case with this woman.

As they went through the mock interview, Heidi asked why she had left her last position. With that question, “everything about her changed,” says Heidi. “Her facial expressions changed, her body language changed, and I knew there was a story behind why she left the previous position.”

So Heidi stopped the interview and asked what had happened. The woman confided that she had made a mistake that resulted in her firing. “I listened to her story and I said to her, ‘You're going to have to deal with that. You're going to have to go home, sit with it, come to terms with it and figure out a response because as soon as I asked you the question everything about you changed.” 

Heidi also told her that her inability to explain why she had left her last job was preventing her from getting a new one. “I told her that while she was saying one thing her body language was saying something else.” 

Heidi also discussed the woman’s plight with the career counselors at Career Collaborative, explaining that the woman’s inability to reckon with her firing was holding her back. They also strategized with Heidi about ways to help, and shortly after that breakthrough the woman landed a new job. 

Given her enthusiasm for helping others jumpstart their careers, it’s not surprising to learn that in addition to traditional volunteer tasks, Heidi also served as a mentor to a Career Collaborative participant, meeting with her monthly after she finished the program until the woman moved from Boston.  Heidi was thrilled to attend her mentee’s college graduation from New College of Business and Finance, in 2012.

In her role as a business engagement manager, Heidi manages Wells Fargo’s technology projects pipeline, ensuring that lines of businesses get funding for their projects. When she’s not reviewing funding pitches, Heidi often spends time engaging her colleagues in Career Collaborative volunteer projects. In the coming weeks a group of co-workers will present “Hands on Banking,” a Wells Fargo program that teaches the basics of personal financial management, such as budgeting and the proper use of credit.

She also talks up the organization every chance she gets. “I tell everybody I know about Career Collaborative, and each time somebody says they're looking for a job or they need help, Career Collaborative is the first place I recommend,” she says. 
 

Returning to the workforce and landing a job

Tata Sanor is a housekeeper at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, a job she obtained after completing our four-week Job Readiness Training course.

Prior to her enrollment, Sanor (pictured left with Career Collaborative instructor Maddy Lawson) was a full time stay-at-home mother. Though she was serious about finding employment outside the home, she was initially skeptical about spending four weeks to prepare for her job search.

“I was like, oh my goodness, a month to take a class? Just to get a job? I said, that’s too much,” recalled Sanor.

Nonetheless, she visited Career Collaborative to learn more and came away impressed by the enthusiasm of the people she met. “That gave me courage to come back,” said Sanor, who decided to apply to enroll in the course.

Sanor does not regret her decision. By the third week of the Job Readiness course, she said, “I didn’t want to leave. It was so enjoyable.” Sanor singled out instructor Maddy Lawson for being particularly helpful. “She taught me a lot, to be honest,” said Sanor. “As a teacher, I learned a lot from her.”

Having been on only one job interview, Sanor said the job interview training was invaluable. “Today, I’m very grateful and very happy. Every week they taught me how to talk to people, how to do the interview [and] you know, practice,” she said. “It helped me a lot.”

Indeed, Sanor strikes a note of confidence when discussing her interview at Brigham and Women’s, noting how she impressed the person who is now her boss, along with the hospital’s human resources staff.

“I went there one time [and] I got a job,” she said. “It was not difficult at all.”

Sanor has some advice for others who may have doubts about committing to Career Collaborative’s approach to building a life-changing career: give it a try, because the benefits are worth it.

“I’m working hard. And I get my check every week, so that’s great,” said Sanor, smiling. “And my advice is to never give up. Come, take the class, give [it] a shot, just try your best, and you’re going to get a result.”

Participant's son pays it forward

Timothy Lam of is one of Career Collaborative’s newest volunteers. The staff pharmacist at Arbour HRI Hospital joins a dedicated and integral team of Boston-area professionals who serve as practice interviewers, online job search assistants, or job search, résumé, or interview coaches; facilitate our job search support group; and share their individual expertise with job seekers as a “Lunch and Learn” Presenter.

Lam has a deeply personal reason for volunteering at Career Collaborative: his mother was a participant who secured full time employment after completing our three-phase program.

“Now I’m giving back to the community by volunteering here,” said Lam, who staffs our resource room, assisting participants in the job application process and conducting practice interviews—one of his favorite volunteer duties.

“That really helps them get a sense of what a real interview is like when they get a call for a job interview,” said Lam, adding that he enjoys seeing participants continually improve upon their interviewing skills in the practice sessions over time.

“Most of them are prepared for the interviews by the end of the course and that’s kind of amazing,” said Lam. “And that’s one of the reasons why I love volunteering here, and if anyone would like to volunteer as well that would be great.”

It would indeed be great. Volunteers are key to Career Collaborative’s success. If you’re interested in helping others build careers that change lives and strengthen families, take a look at our volunteer opportunities and get in touch with us.

 

Congratulations to our latest class of Phase One grads!

Congratulations to participants in our most recent daytime class, who today completed phase one of our intensive three-phase program toward building a career! After 100 hours of classes completed over four weeks, they now have professional résumés and have gone through approximately 20 practice job interviews each with volunteers employed in professional settings in the Greater Boston area! They’ve also taken a financial literacy course that covers budgeting, managing credit and credit scores, and retirement planning.

We celebrated with cake, hugs, and Career Collaborative swag!

The next step for our participants is to find their dream job! They’ll be working one-on-one with our employment counselors to search for jobs online. They’ll be writing targeted cover letters, and preparing for interviews. They’ll also participate in the Career Collaborative Job Club where they meet twice weekly with their peers to share their experiences in looking for a job, track their progress, and motivate each other. We could not be prouder of their hard work, and look forward to seeing what they’ll achieve in the weeks to come!

Our next class begins Monday, October 23. Click here for more information!

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Tooting our horn!

We’re so pleased to share the exciting news that we’ve been selected as one of three finalists to compete for multi-year funding and skilled volunteer support from Social Venture Partners (SVP) Boston!

SVP is the world’s largest network of engaged donors, with more than 2,700 in total. There are 75 in Boston ranging from nonprofit executives to teachers to corporate leaders who pool annual gifts of approximately $6,000 to increase the impact of their philanthropy. Twice a year they take applications from non-profits for three years of funding. The finalists in this round were evaluated for their leadership, sustainability, societal impact and innovation, and stood out from the original pool of close to 20 applicants.

Over the next month, we’ll work with SVP to share more of our program with them and compete for multi-year support, including $100,000 in capacity building funds and access to a pool of highly skilled business professionals that provide hands-on support and counsel in key areas: strategy, business and financial planning, talent development, marketing and communications, board development, and impact measurement.

The other two finalists are Boston CASA and the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway—we’re honored to be in their company!