Learning to Unlearn: Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta

Our first event of the year is just over a week away and we here at YWiB Toronto are more than excited to share this great opportunity with you. In anticipation for all the wonderful advice that will be shared at the workshop, we asked Speaker, Change Management Strategist, Author, and one of our amazing facilitators Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta why change management is an essential skill and why how you view yourself affects your career.


For those who don’t know, what is change management and how does this play a role in one’s career?

Change Management can be seen as both a role and skill in a professional setting or organization, and in a personal setting, it can be seen as both an ability and skill.

 As a profession, you have Organizational Change “Management” and “Manager” roles that are often responsible for managing the people side of changes in technology, regulatory or business initiatives taking place within an organization.

This is also becoming a critical skill for professionals as we now work within a fast-paced business environment that is constantly changing. Now more than ever professionals are required to lead and drive these changes as part of their day to day jobs or on behalf of their organization.

As well, it is also an ability necessary for us to more effectively facilitate the changes in our lives to help us achieve our personal, professional or family related goals. How we go about making the needed changes is a process that needs to be managed with some level of effort. Because we also live in an environment that is constantly changing, we need to have the ability to evolve to either stay relevant in our professions or remain stagnant and lose out on living our best lives. 

Our members are made up of a diverse group of women, but a lot of them are young, having recently graduated from college/university. A lot of them might not be thinking about the long-term and instead are focused on their immediate need to find a job. In that case, what advice would you give to those more concerned with finding a job than necessarily building a career?

In reality, there are bills to be paid, and finding a job as a means to an end is definitely worth considering. Getting to our long-term job goals does not often take a linear approach, there will be twists and turns. Should you choose to take a detour along the way such as getting any ‘job’, be sure to not get completely distracted that you lose sight of your long-term game and goals; don’t stop working towards your ideal career path. Where possible, be strategic in finding any ‘job’ (i.e. getting a non-ideal job, but in an organization that you would like to work in someday, thereby providing you a leg in).

Also do your best on that job, because you never know how what you may be learning on the job becomes valuable in the future or who you will meet in the process. I remember my first job out of university, it was not my ideal job, something I would not even think to put on my resume long term, but it was the job that ended up getting me an ‘ideal’ and high paying job down the line. So never despise small beginnings.

Many of our members have expressed their interest in changing careers within the next year. What advice would you give those looking to try something new?

  • Be clear on what you want, and if you are not clear on what you want, research the various areas that potentially interest you, and speak to people in those roles or a get a coach to help you gain clarity.

  • If you are clear on want you want, then your next step is to determine what is expected of the role in terms of skills and experience. You can do this by looking at job postings for the types of role you are interested in, as well as speaking to people in a similar career.

  •  Networking at professional events related to your area of interest is also a good way to learn about what is happening in that industry, as well as connecting with peers and like-minded professionals. Note, I did not say use networking as means for meeting people to help you get a job; that is not what networking is about. Networking is about forming relationships, and it is through these relationships you can learn about needed skills, opportunities and even get referred for jobs.

  • Look for opportunities within your existing organization, most especially when you are looking to change careers and you have limited experience. Internal transfers are more accommodating of limited or no experience, and willing to train you to help support your professional development.

For more information on transitioning careers or taking it to the next level, I recommend this workbook I developed from my experience with coaching clients and delivering career development workshops.

 In your experience, what has been the biggest challenge for individuals when it comes to change whether personally or professionally?

Mindset. This includes self-limiting beliefs that hold us back. When you are able to train and focus your mind on how you think and view things, this has significant impact on being able to drive the types of changes you desire. With both my clients and myself, I have seen that for every personal or professional goal we have achieved or not, it often comes down to mindset. Your attitude (mindset) will determine your altitude. It also comes down to desire, how much do you really want it and how much work are you willing to put in relation to the change you want to see in your life.

Click  here  to get Yvonne’s book: The Change You Want! Change Your Mindset and Change Your Life

Click here to get Yvonne’s book: The Change You Want! Change Your Mindset and Change Your Life

Particularly when it comes to women in the workforce, how have you seen mindset play a role in professional success?

One would be Self-belief. The ability to believe (or not believe) in ourselves is huge. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and away from the age old nurturing trope that has the potential to limit women in the workplace. For instance “not being forward”, waiting to be given or chosen for an opportunity, and not asking for that job, role, responsibility or promotion that we want, believing that we have to be perfect or fully ready before we go after that role, or not being bold enough to lean in, step forward and let our voices (work and expertise) be heard.

As a woman of colour yourself, what kind of challenges have you faced throughout your career and how has changing your mindset helped with overcoming them?

Whatever challenges I have faced in my career, be it one of colour or otherwise, I have intentionally chosen to turn a blind eye to it in order not to give it ‘life’ and allow to take shape in my mind. I see whatever challenges I may have faced the same as every other challenge; focusing on what I can do to overcome it, and choosing not to personalize it. Where your focus is, is where your energy will flow. I choose to be positively focused.

Since our focus for this event is on both personal and professional growth, how do you see the two interacting in your own life?  Have you had trouble balancing the two in the past? If so, how did you overcome that?

To me, both personal and professional growth are strongly aligned. I’m tempted to say the same actually depending on how you define personal goals. You cannot grow professionally if you are not growing personally. Also, when your personal goals are congruent to your professional goals, I believe this creates more harmony and a sense of balance internally. For example, if one of your personal goals is health and wellbeing, what you achieve in this area such as your mental and physical health will help you be more effective and successful as a professional. Or if your personal goals are financial, chances are that what you do professionally is tied to this goal. Or if your personal goals are family, what you do professionally will impact your family goals.

If you would like to learn more about Yvonne and Change Management please visit: