World renowned coach,
& free spirit.
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Hi, I'm Em.
Early Life: An Awakening to Courage and Resilience
I snapped my femur in half when I was just one year old. My older sister and I had been playing on my mother's bed, with my mom folding clothes next to us. I decided to jump, and I fell off the bed. The doctors recommended to slide the bone back in place, so I was strapped into a slanted bed with my feet at a higher level than my head, unable to move freely. In frustration, I pulled my hair out and ground down my baby teeth. After a few days of despair, I began to accept my circumstances. My parents cheered me up by doing flashcard exercises that I gladly participated in. I recovered fully — to the point that I can’t even remember now which limb I broke.
My mom has often recalled the car ride home from the hospital. “Red light!” “Blue car!” “Dog!” I shouted out the window with an exuberance she'd never seen before. The experience had awakened something inside me; I’d discovered an intense enthusiasm for life and the challenge served as an anchor in my youth — a reminder that obstacles can be overcome when you take the plunge with courage and a willingness to learn. I've often been described as bold, and I think it’s due to my lack of fear to try new things. I’m not afraid of failure, because I know I can turn it into an opportunity to grow, learn and become stronger.
Early Professional Life: Embracing VUCA
I decided to go to China. There was a logical explanation for my decision (or at least I constructed one) – Mainland Chinese people had been immigrating to Canada in increasing numbers and I was intellectually curious to explore diversity ‘with Chinese characteristics.’
But truly my decision to go was rooted in heart. I knew deep down that I was an adventurer seeking adventure. The idea of going to a place simply to open myself up to it felt very freeing.
I loved China’s pace of change, along with the growth mindset and attitude of lifelong learning among Chinese people. I saw an opportunity to build bridges within multinational organizations between Western countries and China, to help leaders better create the conditions for people across different cultures to contribute their best work. I started a company focusing on workplace inclusion at a time when there was not even an agreed upon word in Mandarin for inclusion.
Career Momentum: The Two-Pronged Approach
For years, I partnered with multinational companies with strategic regions in Asia Pacific to localize inclusion strategy and programming and to build open feedback loops. I became involved with global women in leadership programs and it led to years of experimentation in the space with a consistent yearning to go deeper, build more trust, and create space for women to truly thrive. The two-pronged approach I leveraged was working with women to find bold ways to lead authentically while driving cultural change by helping leaders to be more inclusive.
Academic Years: The Power of Unconventional Education
I grew up in Toronto, Canada. I was drawn to teaching and pursued a prestigious degree in Concurrent Education at Queen's University in Canada. I felt confined by rigid curriculums and teaching methods and so I turned to an unlikely setting in federal prisons. As a tutor, instead of teaching from textbooks, I tapped into inmates' interests and crafted lessons on topics they were passionate about like boxing or running a business. I discovered that the education system had failed many of the inmates and the experience led me to pivot into policy studies, focusing on underlying systemic issues and inclusion dynamics.
My graduation ceremony for my Master's degree was a pivotal moment in my life. I won two of the four awards presented, including the esteemed Graduate Director’s Award of Merit, presented to the student with the highest academic achievement. In cap and gown standing on stage, I thought I’d feel full —full of recognition and hope —but instead, I felt boxed in. I could feel the restrictions of a narrow definition of success and my underlying motivation to prove my own worth felt suffocating.
Recognizing this was a key first step, but at the time, I had no idea how I would go about operating differently going forward.
Today and Beyond
Serving a global clientele from Bali, I live a beautifully rich life. My insatiable curiosity about thriving remains, and I've begun a doctorate to unpack some of the transformative work I've done and to build out more interventions in the future.
My partner, the father of our three children, describes me aptly as: "a tropical bird that can't be caged."
I'll take it.
I look forward to hearing more about your story. Check out the ways we can work together and let me know what's best.
Find out more about what I’m working on and how we may work together
Crafting Life's Balance
I remember the first time a coach of mine introduced the lifeline exercise from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business to me. If you haven’t tried it before, you’re supposed to chart your life against a simple axis of level of fulfilment over time with two lines, one for your personal life and one for your professional life.
I only drew one line. I even forgot I was supposed to draw a second line. And it’s not because I’m always working or only care about my career. It’s because I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy crafting each and every part of my life to be in alignment. Alignment to what exactly? To be in alignment with my strengths, my values, what I’m curious about, with my personality, with what I like doing, all the way down to my soul’s deepest calling. And aligning all of that with what’s needed, with what’s wanted, and with what’s important as things change.
I'm married with three kids. It's a modern, blended, intercultural family.
Creative Sabbaticals: Adventures in Indonesia
In 2018 and 2019, I took creative sabbaticals in Bali, diving into deep introspection. During these experiences, I created the "Thrive as Yourself" Assessment model and set the foundation for my first speculative fiction novel. I'd bring my daughter, who was 2 at the time, and give her an opportunity to enjoy running barefoot in the jungle, a great juxtaposition to our urban life in Beijing.
For 2020, we decided to head literally "off the grid" deep into the jungles of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, with no electricity where we cooked by open fire. Just a few weeks into our trip, word of Covid in China began to break out. We flew to Bali and stayed all throughout the pandemic. I learned during these experiences how important it is to take unapologetic, uninterrupted blocks of time for creativity. .
Global Reach in Pandemic Times
We stayed in Bali during the pandemic. It took a lot of orchestration to get my global family together, but we didn't give up and after 9 months, we were reunited.
The idyllic setting allowed me to focus on spiritual growth and channel my feminine energy, giving me the strength to serve my clients globally with greater love and compassion during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic tested us all, but it also presented an opportunity to apply my skills in new, meaningful ways. From Brazil to Japan, I've worked with Fortune 500 executives, coaching thousands of leaders around the world on inclusive leadership.
Here are a few of my beliefs:
I believe every single person is unique and that we’re all interconnected.
What are some of your core beliefs?
Are they serving you?