Dawn Lennon, founder and owner of Big Picture Consulting, is a career strategist, consultant and coach for individuals, businesses, and solo practitioners. For over twenty years, Dawn held senior manager positions at a Fortune 500 company in customer service, management development and training, and consumer programs. Dawn has also been a commercial race horse breeder and equine art dealer. She is the author of Business Fitness: The Power to Succeed—Your Way.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
After spending years running through many rings of fire, I eventually came to accept that I had amassed the right blend of business experience, perspectives, and readiness to become a solopreneneur, serving clients as a career strategist and/or performance coach/consultant.
Briefly, my career path includes a decade teaching high school, a short stint in social work administration, over twenty years as a senior manager at a Fortune 500 utility in consumer education, human resources, and customer service. Concurrent with employment, I did independent practice management consulting for veterinarians, became a commercial horse breeder for the race track and show ring, and owned an equine art gallery. That gave me career experiences in education, social work, business, agriculture, retail, and consulting.
All of this led to my current role as principal for Big Picture Consulting where I work with individuals and small businesses to help them achieve their goals. I have a masters degree in English from Lehigh University which, I suppose, gives me the license to write and read to my hearts content!
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
Although I work hard trying to keep up with technology and social media, I need to continue to learn to use the tools my clients depend on and I could use more knowledge of html.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
Reflective listening and effective questioning are essential for me since my job is to deconstruct issues, find the root cause of problems, and understand the leadership style, concerns, and capabilities of clients. The ultimate quest is to get to clarity around the factors contributing to problems and then to identify strategies and tactics that will successfully address them.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
Because I’m a thinker, I am able to give a leg up to the producers, improvers, and builders who are feeling stuck. That said, I have to be able to make a personal connection to each job type so I can identify with its needs. My personal career mix put me in all those job types before I came to this one.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
It’s nice that I only have to supervise myself these days. (I take my own direction quite well!) In the past, I supervised small groups and multi-layered ones of over 300. That experience helps me help clients with their own supervisory challenges.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
If I weren’t doing my job well, I’d be out of business. There’s no better measure of effectiveness than that. These days, I am very selective about the number and kinds of clients I take on, since I’ve rededicated myself to writing. It’s that prodigal English major in me, I suspect.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
My home office is a safe place, but safety is a commitment that we make personally. My years working for an electric utility taught me that. Accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. We always need to be vigilant.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
I would encourage anyone seeking a coach or consultant to engage in serious due diligence, to be clear about expectations, and expect value. It’s about having a thought partner who knows how the business world works and truly wants to help you.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.