Member Spotlight: Ursula Liff

By July 26, 2015Member Spotlights

Ursula Liff
Current title & company
Director, Client Solutions at Interaction Associates

– Brief description of who you are professionally w/ concise accomplishments
I work in business development for an organizational development (OD) consulting firm. I convince senior leaders that the key to achieving their financial results is to get employees inside their business involved in their decision making, and I then give them a tool set for how to do that. Two years ago, I made a big career change from marketing strategy to OD when I started working for Interaction Associates. It came with a big pay cut and an uncertain outcome, but I’m now managing a $2M portfolio, including our marquis clients GE and TJX. I’m proud of that. Other career highlights have been working for Mayor Menino during his 2005 re-election campaign, managing corporate social responsibility for Trish Karter at Dancing Deer Baking Co, launching my own company, counSOUL (that failed) and partnering to launch bike share in Boston and NYC. I used to apologize for how disjointed my professional career has been, but I’m beginning to see how powerful it has been in making me who I am. I’m learning to own my story for what it is.
-Why did you join TWT and what are you hoping to achieve as a member of the organization?
I wanted to join a women’s networking group where I would be able to develop deeper relationships with those at a similar point in their careers. I go to countless networking events, but they often leave me feeling cold and anonymous. I wanted to make a commitment to a women’s group where I could grow up alongside other strong women.

-What is one of your most proud professional moments and what are you most looking forward to professionally in the next five years?
I quit my post-MBA job two years after graduating and I had no idea what was next. It was one of the scariest, but also one of the most gratifying things I have done to date. I knew advertising wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what was next. I used up most of my savings going on a yoga retreat for one week on my own. When I got back a friend-of-a-friend approached me about launching the bike share program in Boston. It was a perfect assignment that brought me back to my public/private roots. It reaffirmed that I am happiest working for an organization that has a social mission I can get behind. It took me two years working on the edge as a 1099 contractor, paying my own health insurance, launching and closing my start-up, and dealing with the emotional baggage of a terrible breakup, to figure out my next step. It was hard and at times incredibly vulnerable. I remember coming to a couple of TWT events on the verge of tears because I was so unsure of who I was. Now, I realize that it was all part of what it means to make a true transition and not wimp out in the middle of it. (BTW, Linda Rossetti, my mentor and a member of The Massachusetts Women’s Forum is writing a book called Women & Transition that will be published by Macmillan in Fall 2015).
-What do you do in your “free” time? Hobbies, Interests….
Last winter I started salsa dancing. I took some classes and started going to salsa dancing clubs on my own. I’m always looking for a creative outlet as I was a Drama Major in college and I too often suppress my creative spirit in my daily life. I’m working on finding joy in the small things. I have a beautiful urban garden in my backyard in Jamaica Plain. I take long runs, do yoga and am getting into Pure Barre, which is kicking my butt. I’m taking golf lessons with a group of TWT women, which is fun as I grew up playing golf, but haven’t played very much in the last 15 years. I want to research and write a book about how careers are being built differently since 2001. I am passionate about helping young professional women behind me find their way.
-3 Core Values (i.e. Loyalty, hard work, independence):

I am a connector at heart. I love to put two people together who should know each other. I love to connect two departments that are not communicating to figure out a problem. I have a sixth sense for being able to see the in between and think that is one of the talents I can bring to the world.

I aspire to be a continual learner, someone who remains curious and is always pushing myself to be a beginner and try something new. I also aim to be a teacher wherever I can be of service. I love to give back to my family, my community and especially to the young women who come my way.

I am a catalyst, who gets impatient with the status quo and likes to activate others to get something done. When something is broken, I don’t understand why we are waiting to fix it. I know how to rally troops.
-Fun Fact/What makes YOU, you?

I lived in France for a year when I was 23. I had no visa and worked “under the table” for 14 months. During that time, I worked as a janitor, a maid, a waitress and an analyst. Some of the most important professional experiences of my life to date happened in France. You should see how I leave a hotel room ever since – clean and tidy – I’ve been the person on the other side.

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