Marjorie Woo, Ph.D., is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Keystone Group (Shanghai) Inc., a coaching service pioneer in China and Asia. She is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) and former Director of the Professional Coaches Global Board of the International Coaching Federation. Under her leadership, Dr. Woo’s company has coached over 2,000 managers and senior-level executives and 30,000 mid-level managers in China since 1998.
Dr. Woo is a visionary and co-editor of Leadership Coaching in China, the first publication to fully explore the experience of Western coaches operating at the highest levels of the Chinese industry. She earned her doctorate in Human and Organizational Development Systems from Fielding Graduate University in 2012, a decision she deemed “life-changing.” Most recently, Dr. Woo was a guest speaker on Fielding’s annual Call across the Globe.
As part of Women’s History Month activities at Fielding, we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Woo about her leadership story, experience in the work world, and what advice she has for today’s women navigating a career change in later years in life.
Who were your mentors in the earlier stages of your career? What was it about them that shaped you?
During my career at Xerox Corporation, when I started as a management trainee, my supervisors in each department were my mentors. Both men and women taught me how to be effective in the corporate world, which was male-oriented at the time. I learned from observing my direct manager and other women leaders that we should also sponsor the women we mentor and support them in advancing their careers.
What would be your advice to women changing careers mid-life?
I work with women who are growing in their careers. When they experience career transition and growth, they often feel anxious because they aspire to achieve more and make an impact in their new positions. My advice to them and any woman changing careers mid-life is to slow down, pause and review the path. This allows one to learn more about what is truly important and meaningful. It allows an opportunity to discover one’s strengths and reflect on their leadership style. New accomplishments will follow.
As far as coaching goes, what would be your advice on navigating a career in the later stages of life, and how to fight ageism?
First and foremost, it is vital to examine our conditioning. During my studies at Fielding, I learned critical thinking. I started asking myself: Is this my truth or my conditioning? I believe that a commitment to life-long learning is essential. Today, women in their 50’s are more like women in their 30’s because our society’s age perception, health, and longevity have changed. One mustn’t compare themselves with others, but rather keep an open mind and heart for what’s possible.
My advice is to take a leap of faith; the outcome will likely be better than expected. Stay curious. Each time I encounter a Fielding alum, faculty, or current student, I find that these individuals are always interested in new things. Their curiosity is inspiring. I am also on the next journey in my life and look forward to making contributions in new ways as I continue to learn.
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