Reflections on an Experiment

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**First in a series relating to a recent “experiment” in succession planning

At Vantage Point, we love a good experiment.  Recently, that sprit has led to some new adventures – and lessons learned – in the areas of leadership development, team building and succession planning.

It began a few years ago when I left my position as Program Director for my first maternity leave.  At the time, my mind was occupied with the anticipation of Baby’s arrival. And, as other parents will know, the first few months were an absolute blur. The only thoughts I had about development were related to our son’s progressive learning and growth milestones!

As the months passed, I began to come up for air (and added brain stimulation!). My colleagues respectfully offered me opportunities to remain connected – by participating in planning sessions, attending social events (I have yet to win at bowling), serving as a panelist at a Board of Trade event and writing thought pieces (if time ever permitted!).

Our Executive Director, Colleen Kelly, also began to consider how I might best contribute upon my return – in a new capacity. Colleen recognized I had outgrown my previous role and she was eager to craft a position that would further my leadership development AND the mission of the organization.  Brilliant!

And so it was that, at the end of January 2011, I rejoined Vantage Point’s talent team as Associate Executive Director. Our mission, to inspire and build leadership in the voluntary sector, drove the decision. The organization’s leadership recognized the opportunity to “catch the next wave of talent", as one component of its succession plan.

The decision also furthered our mission by freeing up some of our Executive Director’s time.  With the organization primarily in my hands, Colleen was able to explore new markets for our products (eg., Governance Lab in Calgary and People Lens training in Santa Barbara) and begin to write “The Book” (much more to come on that!).

Now, in the midst of my second maternity leave, I am thoughtful about our experiment and all we’re learning along the way. In the coming months, I will try to put some words behind the experience – from my perspective – in a series of blog posts.

I hope my reflections might equip other next generation leaders and the organizations they are passionate about with an enhanced lab for their own experiments!

About the Author

Maria Turnbull brings over 20 years of leadership experience in staff and director roles within the not-for-profit sector, both here in Canada and in the UK. With a BA in International Relations and MBA, Maria is a skilled facilitator and consultant in board governance, organizational development,...


Candy Ho's picture
Candy Ho (not verified) on

Hi Maria - delighted to learn that you will stay engaged online. Look forward to reading more of your posts!

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