Leveraging a Growth Mindset to Enable True Inclusion
About This Episode
You’ve likely heard of Special Olympics, but are you familiar with the life-changing impact this organization has on its athletes, coaches, volunteers, and employees? Today we are joined by a Special Olympics athlete and the nonprofit’s Chief of Organizational Excellence as they explore how Special Olympics has maintained connection, community, and competition in 200+ countries amid the pandemic. We also discuss the meaning of true inclusivity and how organizations must utilize a Growth Mindset when shaping and adapting culture to ensure that employees of all backgrounds can contribute in a meaningful way.
About Our Guest
Emanuelle Dutra Fernandes de Souza is a 23-year old Brazilian Special Olympics athlete, winner of numerous medals, and a newly-elected Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger.
When Emanuelle (or Manu, as she likes to be called) was 2 years old, she had seizure which left her in a coma for a week. This led to therapy and her family relocating. She became involved in sports, and discovered her love for soccer and beach volleyball, training almost daily. This led to her discovery by Special Olympics in 2013, during the development of soccer programs and competitions in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.
Manu became deeply involved in Special Olympics initiatives; she participated in the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles, where she won a bronze medal in soccer and in 2018 she played in the Unified World Cup in Chicago, where she got a silver medal. Manu qualified to compete in beach volleyball for the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi but instead she participated representing the Latin American Region a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger.
Denis Doolan, Chief of Organizational Excellence, oversees strategic planning, operational excellence and leadership development, including the Special Olympics Leadership Academy, the Athlete Leadership program and Unified Leadership, Special Olympics’ pioneering approach to achieving inclusive leadership practices.
Denis has served in a variety of roles within Special Olympics, including Director of Venues for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland, the first Special Olympics World Summer Games outside of the United States. He is also a Special Olympics family member and volunteer.
Denis’ background includes public relations consultancy, event management and delivery of strategic planning, learning & development and business improvement projects in the private sector. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from Dublin City University and a Master’s in Public Relations from the University of Stirling. He also has a Certificate in Sustainable Business from the University of Cambridge and a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek (BB) leads a global marketing organization focused on helping companies unlock the hidden value inside their greatest asset – their people.
In her role, Michelle is responsible for the company’s marketing strategy to drive growth, generate awareness, and drive demand for Skillsoft solutions among learners, customers, and partners. She oversees all key functions, including customer marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, marketing operations and business development. Most importantly, she serves as the company’s brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
Prior to Skillsoft, Michelle held several executive roles in the high tech sector, most notably as the CMO of IBM Watson, where she was responsible for marketing the company's artificial intelligence (AI) products and solutions. Michelle also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, where she helped companies understand how to anticipate, plan for and ultimately make better decisions - with greater confidence - in the face of weather.