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Vanessa Chehlawi, B.Eng.Mgt. '12

(Engineering Physics) | Experiences around the globe

Experiences around the globe

Describing the eight years since Vanessa Chehlawi earned her engineering degree as action-packed would almost be an understatement.

Since the 2012 Engineering Physics and Management grad left McMaster, she earned her master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley, worked jobs on three continents and developed expertise across several sectors.

That wide-ranging experience helps her today, working with global executive search firm Egon Zehnder out of Toronto and advising clients on solving leadership challenges.

“I’m energized by working with people and striving to understand what motivates them,” says Chehlawi. “My goal is to help organizations thrive through career and leadership advice.”

Recognition of her interests was born during the six years she spent working in management consulting at McKinsey & Company.

“I was attracted to consulting because it demands fast-paced problem-solving skills and gave me the chance to work with very smart and interesting people across different industries, geographies and on very interesting topics,” she says.

That role gave her the opportunity to develop and deliver agile methodology training for a financial institution in Washington D.C.; use adult learning principles to help Montreal call centre employees better serve clients, and spend five months working on a mining project in Australia and exploring the region.

“I made the switch to my current role as I realized that I have a true passion for connecting and engaging with others and advising them on leadership challenges.”

Her advice for today’s students is to stay curious and open to new things.

“Learning about yourself and the outside world is truly a gift,” says Chehlawi. “In the process, notice what gives you the most energy, and then focus and try to build that into your life, studies and career choices. Building on your strengths will help you reach your goals, and through that journey, will bring you a lot of fulfillment.