What happens when life is spiraling out of control? How do we cope? Dr Kim Vella, an executive career coach, says it’s not easy, but is possible to refocus and regroup. Indeed, new directions are often better directions, on both work and personal fronts.
Kim has invited Dr Danielle Klar to the next Network of Possibility (28 November) to tell her story, believing it’s a shining example of how reflection leads to wonderful things.
‘The Network is about possibilities and learning from others,’ says Kim, ‘and that includes those who have been through significant health or other setbacks and come through much happier in life.’
Danielle’s story started on a high. She began her career as a Medical Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, before moving into more and more senior roles in the Australian Public Service. Her list of degrees is impressive—BSc(Med), MBBS (Hons, Master of Management (Double major in Leadership and Managing Change) and a Master of Business Administration. She has two medical fellowships and is a practicing GP.
Danielle also has five children, including two sets of twins. Her husband is an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Ambition runs through her veins and she had her eye on become the Secretary of a department.
Then Danielle got sick. She discovered she had breast cancer and decided on a double mastectomy. Complications followed. So did more surgery. Then Danielle learned she had life-threatening clots in her legs and lungs. She almost lost her life.
During her long recovery, Danielle had time to think. Her mind went back to her youth in Central West NSW. She grew up with strong rural ties and loved landscape and geology. Her artistic side developed from an early age and re-surfaced throughout her recovery. During Danielle’s downtime she studied the history of jewellery and sketching and design. She then obtained a Diploma of Gemmology.
‘I began making pieces for myself, working with gemstone cutters and manufacturers,’ says Daniel. ‘Custom designs and special orders soon followed for friends, family and contacts. One day my husband asked if working with jewellery made me happy. It did and so I opened Plumery thinking that if it didn’t work, it didn’t work.’
Today, Plumery provides bespoke designs for customers wanting unique, beautiful pieces. ‘It’s a boutique jewellery concierge studio and we custom design most pieces,’ says Danielle. ‘Plumery’s name relates to the beauty in adorning oneself in finery. Everyone needs more than one plume in their plumage. The name is also a homage to my early career in Defence and the men and women who served in the armed forces.’
Danielle was invited to share her story at the Network of Possibility because of the process she went through to get to where she is today. ‘So many professionals, including leaders in the workplace, don’t always cope when they lose control as Danielle did,’ says Kim. ‘Danielle couldn’t control what was happening to her on many levels. The smart thing she did was take the time to think about her hectic career trajectory and ask if it was really what she wanted to do.’
‘Working harder, faster and longer isn’t a sustainable solution to maintaining control even though many leaders believe this is the case,’ says Kim. ‘Danielle embraced her vulnerability. It’s something we concentrate on in coaching and the workshops I run. We develop plans and start the journey to new beginnings. It’s about respecting who you are and aligning life to that, as opposed to wasting years being who you think you ought to be.’
Danielle certainly didn’t give everything up for Plumery. She works in the business part time, alongside her daughter. She also works in her husband’s medical practice part time. ‘The two businesses are next door to one another,’ says Danielle. ‘They’re amazingly different but it works for who I am at this stage in my life.’
Courage is essential when transitioning to new and better things. Kim says this is also something her coaching supports. ‘Sometimes it appears easier to stay on the treadmill, at least it is for many leaders. Sometimes life takes charge, as it did with Danielle and her illness,’ says Kim. ‘Sometimes you can take charge. The guest speakers at the Network of Possibility have all been on different paths and each story is inspirational.’
The Network of Possibility is no ordinary networking event. It’s a philanthropic one raising money for three important charities that work to eliminate violence against women, children and families, including Karinya House, Toora Women Inc., and YWCA Canberra.
‘We don’t yell or sell,’ says Kim. ‘We don’t whip out business cards the second we meet someone or push elevator pitches. The Network is a neutral, supportive and inclusive space for everyone, including those who aren’t immersed in a career. It’s about understanding what your purpose is (not your level, status or rank). It’s a relationship-driven network where we make it a priority to get to know each other on a deeper level.’
The Network of Possibility, featuring ‘Daniel’s journey’, is on 28 November, 6pm to 7.30pm, at the Commonwealth Club. Buy your ticket here.
If you’re interested in Plumery Jewellery, call (02) 6147 5544.