chatting with...michelle rupp

Michelle Rupp is an entrepreneur and founder of her own business, a certified Executive Coach, and an active member of the non-profit community in Vancouver.  As Principal and founder of Lighthouse Leadership, Michelle Rupp brings over 20 years of diverse business experience to her work as an Executive Coach.  Prior to her professional transition into leadership development, Michelle was a communications and marketing specialist in her role as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications with a leading North American investment firm.   During this time, she was recognized as an innovative and results-oriented leader with excellent presentation and interpersonal skills.  Michelle was also a speaker at YWiB’s Beyond Pink Conference in 2010, and is a huge cheerleader and supporter of the YWiB philosophy.  We chatted with her in between the end of a workday and what she believes to be one of the most important parts of her life – dinner time with her family.  Read on and you’ll see why. name three people you'd like to have a dinner party with. normally with a question like this, i would name what i call “the usual suspects,” like mother teresa – pivotal change agents who’ve had a profound impact on humankind.  but because i am a working mother with an equally busy husband and two very athletic teenage boys who i’ll soon be launching out into the world, i’m going to bestow this honour on my family: my husband and two sons.  Sometimes dinner is a movable feast – we’ll eat at 6 pm one night or 9 pm the next, but it’s very important to me to have that time with everyone.  We check in with each other and spend time together.  It’s important.

what's the harder job: executive coach and founder of your own company, or mom/wife in a house full of boys? it’s really a constant balance between the two.  I couldn’t choose, and i wouldn’t want to, because i love what i do, and i wouldn’t be who i am without my professional life.  Conversely, I wouldn’t be who i am if i weren’t a mother.  i do know that my family is a priority, and that juggling that and my work is the best adventure i’ve ever embarked on.

who do you admire most and why? I would have to say my mother, who raised my sister and i on her own from when i was 13 years old.  We lost our father in an accident, and after that my mom took on the roles of both parents.  She was and is a fantastic role model, someone i have tremendous respect for and who taught me the importance of family and is a shining example of what a person is capable of in the face of adversity and tragedy.  Even now, at 83, she’s still running around like she’s twenty years younger!  She’s an inspiration.

advice you would give to someone wanting to start her own business? Surround yourself with great people.  Know yourself – find out what you’re good at, and perhaps more importantly, what you’re not that great at, or what you don’t like.  From there, build a community of people who can help you out with that stuff!  For example, I’m not a financial guru, so one of the first things i did was get myself a good bookkeeper.  I’m also not incredibly detail-oriented at times, so I found an excellent administrative assistant.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because it can be lonely when you’re trying to start a business.  Find mentors – people love to be asked for advice and feedback.

as chair of the minerva foundation and a speaker at YWiB’s Beyond Pink Conference in 2010, what is the greatest success you’ve witnessed working with young women in the community? i think the greatest gift i’ve been given as someone who is part of the YWiB community is seeing the profound level of confidence in the young women who get involved.  Everyone is so talented, and has so much energy and passion for contributing to the world around them.  When i spoke at Beyond Pink, I thought maybe the excitement was there because it was a conference, and that kind of environment breeds ideas and dreams – not necessarily execution.  However, after the event was over, I saw – and continue to see – follow through.  I see action and results.  It’s amazing.  That’s probably the greatest success I’ve witnessed.

why do you think YWiB and the YwiB philosophy is important for females in Vancouver (and beyond)? I think YWiB and all those involved really do have the potential to change the face of leadership in BC – not just in getting women in more leadership roles, but changing the way that leadership is done.  There is tremendous value in the way women lead.  The loads we carry and how we do that transfers from our personal to professional lives all the time, and I think that can change our communities and our places of work.  it already has.  YWiB celebrates what women can achieve together, and it’s an incredible model for all females to pattern themselves after.