What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I own a boutique coaching, speaking and consulting firm called PGE LLC which provides innovative and strategic solutions on career management, executive/leadership development, organizational diversity efforts, networking and social media strategy. I founded the firm after previously working for more than a decade in higher education with an emphasis on career development and diversity and inclusion.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
As an entrepreneur and business owner, at the end of the day, you get to see your passion realized, knowing it’s your vision and your effort. This alone makes it all worthwhile, but there are several other benefits and challenges. Business development can be very challenging, identifying your niche and selling it in a competitive market requires a unique and flexible skill set.
I took a huge risk by leaving great jobs within institutions where I had more support in order to provide direct services to address the concerns of the students and professionals I had worked with over the last ten years, and provide them with content that was relevant, impactful and engaging.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is the level and depth that I have achieved as a leader. My leadership and community engagement roles help me make a professional, personal and social impact. I have been fortunate to assume leadership roles in a number of organizations and social justice initiatives that align closely with my personal interests, including serving as the President-Elect of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, on the steering committee of the Apollo Theater’s Young Patrons, the Diversity Steering Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel - New York, as a Trustee of the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Deerfield Academy Alumni Association.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I’m drawn to thought leaders: on a large scale I’ve always been inspired by Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg and Les Brown and my own career has been influenced by far more people than I could possibly count, but notably I’ve benefited from the wise words and careers trajectories of Rhonda Joy McLean, Paulette Brown, Verna Myers, and Carla Harris to name a few.
I love connecting with audiences and presenting in both small workshops and large venues. Having the ability to do this as a part of my business and brand building has been exciting. Also, I love social media and the ability it has to connect people and empower them to engage on important issues and to promote their brands in a savvy and innovative way. I hope you’ll connect with me on LinkedIn (Paula Edgar), Twitter (@PaulaEdgar), and on Facebook (Paula Edgar Fan Page).
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I aspire to have a platform on which I can have the most impact on my community and beyond. In ten years, I will have a successful talk show and I will be a published author. Both of these will help me to grow my business as a coach and speaker, but more importantly, I look forward to having a vehicle that will enable me to tell people’s stories.
Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
Personally, my mother, Joan Griffith, has been my biggest influencer and she was my first mentor. It was her legacy to help lift others, and losing her was the catalyst for all of my work in the pipeline to the profession and various roles as a mentor. I know the importance of having someone in your corner, to help you grow by providing positive and negative feedback, to support you and encourage you, and promote on your behalf to others, and want to be able to provide that for as many people as I possibly can. It was a gift that I received at a very young age, and I’m smart enough to know that it is a fortune that must be shared.
What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?
What drew me most the CUP Fellows Program is a desire to help others and grow both individually and as a cohort, which is often the overlooked aspect of professional development. CUP Fellows are a family, a support system, a cheerleading squad - I could never have anticipated that this experience would have such a profound impact on my career.