Hi, I’m Shannon Houde and my 20-year career story has been one of constant reinvention so I know first hand how to help others make their dreams happen.
I created my dream job! 15 years ago I broke into Corporate Responsibility by spearheading the employee-volunteering program at Barclays Global Investors. I have changed jobs every 18 months and careers more than 10 times from accountant in San Francisco to eco-tour entrepreneur in Patagonia to international environmental NGO manager in Switzerland to CR corporate consultant in London.
The theme throughout all of my personal reinventions has been helping others realise their potential to convert their passion into purpose and pay.
Passion & purpose
I see the difference I make when a client transforms from fear to conviction. When a client looks at the before and after of their CV or LinkedIn profile and stands tall with confidence and excitement to take charge of their career. I…
- empower career changers to see their true market value
- motivate others with a fast-paced energy to unpack the fear of the unknown
- wave my magic wand over CVs to turn them into compelling marketing stories
- challenge thinking with a deep dive into making sense of the authentic self
How am I different from other career coaches?
- Energetic and fast-paced
- Tangible outputs, practical tools, not just a chat
- Market insight and up-to-date access to job trends & recruiters
- Personalised psychometric testing & insights about you
- Grow with you on your career journey
- Practical and global experience in the field
I am the founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career advisory business focused solely on the sustainability, social impact, international development and Corporate Responsibility (CR) fields.
I have more than 15 years coaching, mentoring and training 700+ professionals and Masters graduates in the impact sector.
Previously I have worked as a hiring manager, a business coach and a CR consultant for Deloitte, Corporate Citizenship, Barclays, Adobe and WWF.
I’ve also spent 10 years managing cross-cultural teams and CR projects in Asia, Europe, North and South America for FTSE 250 clients – Altria, Argos/Homebase, Barclays Global Investors, Cadbury Schweppes, Deloitte, EMI, L’Oreal, Nokia, Reuters, UNICEF, Vodafone Group, WWF, and Yell.
I hold an MBA in International Management, with a focus on CR, from Thunderbird in Arizona and Switzerland as well as a BS in Sociology from the University of Colorado.
I have served in leadership roles for Net Impact since 2003 and am currently an Advisor to the CEO on careers strategies for their members.
Read more about my journey...
My own approach to my professional life has been a typical combination of “let my career happen to me,” followed by “take the reins of my career,” and finally “create my career outside the box.” Here are a few examples of each.
Reactive Career Decisions
My “calling” was shaped by my first job out of university: staffing assistant at a management consultancy in Washington, D.C. My boss made me cry a few times, but I learned a lot and followed her when she left for another firm.
I loved getting the right people into the right roles, critiquing resumes and helping top candidates prepare to meet our management. I thought I’d become a social worker with my sociology degree, but this first job ended up being closest to what I do now.
Take the Reins
In the following 10 years, I took various recruiting and office manager roles until I realized I loved crunching numbers. I enrolled in accounting courses and took over the bookkeeping at a small international trade company in Washington, D.C.
I loved the work but grew tired of D.C. I yearned to be in San Francisco, so got a job working with numbers in the fashion industry before moving to mortgage-insurance and then investment management, where I did accounting, then database management and strategic planning.
I worked my way up to be two removed from the CFO of Barclays Global Investors. There I launched the first employee volunteering program and realized my next career calling was to make a difference on the ground in communities and link that to corporate responsibility (hardly even a term way-back-when in 1998).
Outside the Box
It could have been a straight line. I could have followed the “path,” as you say. But no. I had always wanted to learn fluent Spanish and needed to have something amazing to “sell” on my business school applications, so I traded in my car and furniture for a duffel bag and a one-way ticket to Patagonia.
There I volunteered for an outdoor leadership school, NOLS, for nine months while making local contacts. Not wanting to leave the fly-fishing rivers and the simple life, I created my own eco-tourism business bringing “gringos” on cultural and adventure trips to the remote region near the glaciers using “leave no trace” ethics.
An MBA in international management called me back to the U.S. for a year and then, as I finished year two in Geneva, Switzerland, I yearned to stay in the Alps. Still with a community investment focus, I found a role as project finance manager at WWF.
Now I was tasked with managing people, a team of nine nationalities — a great MBA+ job! This allowed me to see how “the other side” worked but I quickly realized I was a triple bottom line girl. Where were the profit drivers?
Meeting my Quebequois-French-speaking husband on the ski mountain lured me to the U.K. There, I landed my first proper CSR post as London benchmarking group manager at boutique consultancy Corporate Citizenship.
While there, I went back to reactive decision-making when one of my consulting clients, Deloitte, lured me away with more money. Before I knew it, I was working ridiculous hours with high pressure in a culture I didn’t understand or agree with. I had been seduced by the wrong things and, despite the credibility this experience would give me later in my career, I was miserable.
Taking the Reins Outside the Box
I knew I had to be smarter about aligning my personal and professional goals and values with each other. So after having my first son, I didn’t return from maternity leave and instead launched my sustainability career coaching business, combining all of my talents, interests, values and needs into one — except a paycheck.
The risk was high but I eased in, starting with two days a week and going up by one each year while also continuing my corporate consulting with another boutique. I also partnered with a leading recruitment agency, Acre, who referred clients to me and gave me credibility in the early years. I had finally found a way to marry up all of my skills, knowledge, interests and personal flexibility needs into one “dream job.” And now five years in, I haven’t looked back.
My thought leadership has been published in
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