Since graduating, business owner, Lela, extended her company and has been able to provide her clients with a more holistic offering. Reflecting on her studies in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Lela feels she has become not only a better leader, but also a better parent.
Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?
I went to Westbourne Grammar and then went on to RMIT to study Business. I trained as an accountant in a top four firm, then went on to work overseas in marketing and gained further qualifications with a Masters of Marketing at Melbourne Business School. I have drawn upon these disciplines to provide leadership in corporate and small business.
Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?
The Faculty of Education was the only place I could get a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at a time and format that could fit into my life. Melbourne University also has a wonderful reputation.
Q: What did you enjoy about studying at the Faculty of Education?
I felt I was learning from leaders in the field. Not only were they teaching but they were researchers too. They were advancing the field. Therefore whatever I learnt was current and relevant.
Q: Why did you choose to study MAPP?
Working in the corporate landscape, I felt I knew what drove human performance and wellbeing at work but learning about positive psychology gave it a name and more importantly substance through the scientific evidence. It is exciting to see that there is rigorous science that drives wellbeing and it is important to be able to show this as evidence to leaders to assist them shape their business and employee strategies.
Q: What was the most valuable/rewarding aspect of MAPP?
The most rewarding part of doing MAPP is the incredible expanse of knowledge that you gain. It contributes to my confidence as a leader and a parent.
Q: What interested you most about the area you studied? How do you apply it in your current role?
I was lucky to work with Professor Lea Waters on a number of projects and got to create a Positive Education program called Positive Detective which is now in over 300 schools in 11 countries.
During this time I found I really enjoyed coaching. So I set-up my business. My coaching and mentoring business is centred around getting people to uncover their “Authentic Self” and distill what really drives their happiness. I created the program as part of my capstone with Assoc. Professor Peggy Kern during MAPP. I used all the science I have learnt to help people achieve their authentic goals.
Q: How did you fit MAPP studies into your lifestyle?
I studied my MAPP fulltime, held a fulltime job and was a fulltime parent so you would think it would be a challenging time. It wasn’t. I found I enjoyed MAPP so much that it actually helped me to be a better parent and leader.
Q: Did you undertake an internship or fieldwork placement? How did it help your transition to employment?
I am an experienced marketer and I already had a good network of clients through my marketing business so I started with them first. I have extended my current business, using my three qualifications to provide a more holistic offering to my clients and have a thriving coaching practice.
Q: Since graduation, what sort of projects have you been working on?
Apart from my coaching practice, I have also established a not-for-profit organisation to help coach underprivileged individuals and give local communities access to wellbeing resources and workshops . I am also pleased to be able to share my expertise at the Centre for Positive Psychology for the 6th World Congress for Positive Psychology in Melbourne this July which expects over 1,500 delegates. I was instrumental in bringing the congress to Australia and I think the event will facilitate a global spotlight on the Centre for Positive Psychology, its work and its researchers. It not only also gives Australians access to this world-class congress that has otherwise always been held in North America, but it will increase and expand the understanding of positive psychology in Australia. I am really proud of that achievement.
Q: Can you describe how your degree has contributed to your career development?
Achieving my MAPP, has meant that I have now gained what I needed to provide a holistic offering to my clients. For example, in coaching with small business I have been able to help people better understand their finances and improve and target their marketing. As a final but important piece of the puzzle I have been able to use my MAPP learnings with my clients to help them understand their strengths and potential to achieve business success and personal life goals.
Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?
I hope to expand my coaching and mentoring business so I can reach more people, especially in disadvantaged sectors of the community.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing a career in Positive Psychology?
The best advice I can give someone is to really work out what is your sweet spot. What do you love doing? Then don’t try and conquer the world but find a niche market where you can shine. Conquer that market then expand.
Q: What would you say to students who are thinking about studying your program at The University of Melbourne?
I think everyone should study Positive Psychology. It changes the lens of how you work, learn, parent and live. I think including an introductory subject on wellbeing at the start of a course would be a wonderful foundation to starting a new journey at University Melbourne. It’s not about being happy all the time because that is just not possible but it’s about having the wellbeing life skills that help us navigate through life’s many challenges allowing us to be the best versions of ourselves.