Magazine article Talent Development

In the Driver's Seat: Martha Soehren Has Learned That Taking Ownership of Her Career Is Necessary for Personal and Professional Growth

Magazine article Talent Development

In the Driver's Seat: Martha Soehren Has Learned That Taking Ownership of Her Career Is Necessary for Personal and Professional Growth

Article excerpt

Q What sparked your initial interest in the learning profession?

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A I had a strong desire from childhood to be a teacher. While completing my master's degree, I tackled my first formal teaching role as an adjunct instructor in higher education, and loved it. After I finished my degree, I interviewed at the business school of a local university. The dean said he couldn't give me the teaching job because I lacked experience in academia. Quickly calculating my risks, I offered to teach the first course without pay, and if the students liked me and the job I'd done--and he did, too--I'd stay, and if not, I'd walk away. I taught for 13 years as an adjunct professor and will return to that work in semi-retirement some day. There's magic in helping a person advance his knowledge and career.

Q What experiences from adult education have been valuable to your roles in workplace learning?

A I believe the practical experience in the classroom has served me well. I applied workplace learning principles in the college classroom when it wasn't necessarily deemed acceptable to do so. I evaluated students on role plans, action learning assignments, applying theory to the workplace, and other engaging forms of learning. I realized that adults who want to learn will excel when given opportunities to apply what they're learning in meaningful ways.

Q Did you have a coach or mentor to help you along the way? If so, what was the best advice you were given?

A My PhD advisor was a mentor and remained as such for several years after my work was done. He caused me to think deeply and thoroughly. I recall one day when he said to me, "I expected more from you." I made up my mind that day that I'd never disappoint him again.

Perhaps my best coach was the one who encouraged me to take a leap of faith and spend two years in a not-for-profit organization. …

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