Jocelyne Moussavou - Vice President of Service Contracts

Jocelyne Moussavou - Vice President of Service Contracts

Client: Jocelyne Moussavou was chief of staff to the leader of a small municipality in southern Florida.

Industry: Government, Nonprofit.

Operations, Management, Administration.

 Soon after beginning her role, Jocelyne realized that it presented limits to her career growth and she wanted to explore opportunities for more senior-level positions, possibly in other industries.

Jocelyne first allowed herself to dream big about her career, then tempered those dreams with pragmatism in a job search that leveraged branding, social capital, recruiters – and resilience.

Jocelyne landed as VP of service contracts for a major philanthropic nonprofit, a role that links everything she wanted in a dream career, including considerably higher compensation.

Study: Jocelyne Moussavou was chief of staff – second in command – to the head of a small, wealthy municipality in southern Florida. As such, she helped run operations, coordinate alignment between various stakeholders, and develop and implement complex policies within a dynamic political environment. She was handpicked for the job by the village manager and enjoyed her work. But about a year into the role, Jocelyne realized the lack of upward mobility. To grow professionally, she would need to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Jocelyne was in no hurry to change jobs. For her, being intentional about her next move was more important. If career growth were the objective, she thought, perhaps she should consider career paths outside of government? But how should she do that?

“I started googling “career management organizations” and The Barrett Group [TBG] popped up,” said Jocelyne. “I reached out to learn more about the program, which seemed well worth the money. A month later, I signed up.” 

Jocelyne began by meeting with Stacie Riffert, a coach in TBG’s Clarity Program, to assess her career and establish her goals. It was a phenomenal experience.

“I loved working with Stacie! I was able to dream big with her. She was a good listener and really helped me explore what I was looking for. I’d once done a 4-week, women’s leadership program where I worked with a coach, but it was not as focused as working with Stacie. This experience was refreshing, and I always looked forward to my sessions with her.” 

Jocelyne knew at the outset that she didn’t want to leave the Miami area if she could help it. By working through the assignments Stacie gave her, she began to get a clearer picture about other aspects of her career goals, too. 

“I saw myself leading a team at an executive level, working with numbers, working with people in a progressive, mission-driven environment. At the same time, while I like operations, my position in the municipal capacity didn’t excite me. What I love is fashion. I wanted my next career to have a fashion orientation,” said Jocelyne. 

After the Clarity Program, Jocelyne was ready to start TBG’s main program. Her career consultant, Julie Mathern, began introducing the elements. First, Jocelyne learned about the different methods of accessing the job market, the biggest one being one’s own network.

“I learned the importance of nurturing my network and how powerful LinkedIn is in establishing and maintaining relationships. We updated my LinkedIn pictures, summaries, and profile and I began reconnecting with people in my network,” said Jocelyne. 

Jocelyne spent a lot of time “cleaning up” her connections to ensure that her network was comprised of people who valued her as she searched for opportunities. When she identified job postings that interested her, she and Julie would screen them together.

“Julie gave me assignments to complete each week and a lot of practical advice on how best to conduct my search. We had meaningful conversations about what employers are looking for and whether I was a match for the opportunities I saw. Her candor was good for me, even if the truth was sometimes uncomfortable to hear.”

To Jocelyne’s dismay, her job search hit some initial roadblocks.

“I was searching for chief of staff and operations roles within the fashion industry for the first two months, but I was unsuited for all the opportunities because I lacked fashion industry experience. I made no headway. Even using my social capital, I was running into brick walls.”

After several discouraging weeks, Jocelyne reluctantly concluded that it was not the right time for her to get into the fashion industry, and she switched gears.  

“Focusing on the fashion industry wasn’t working for me, so I pivoted. With Julie’s help, we redid my resume and LinkedIn profile to rebrand me, changed my LinkedIn search criteria, and targeted chief of staff and operations roles in any industry. That opened new doors.”

Jocelyne’s job search continued to move more slowly than she wanted, but she exercised impressive resilience and determination in the face of her difficulties. 

“I reached out to a lot of jobs. We changed my resume several times. There were times when I wanted to give up because I was frustrated. The key thing for me at that point was managing my disappointment.”

To stay positive, Jocelyne leaned on good friends. She also kept in mind two things. First, that she was doing so much more in her job search than she would have been doing if she were not working with Julie and TBG. Second, that she had learned a lot from Julie about cultivating relationships. So, she vowed to keep pushing herself to continue those efforts. 

One evening, at a dinner event, Jocelyne had an engaging conversation with the CEO of a prominent, local hospital. A few months later, she called him and confided in him about her job search. Although he had no job prospects to share, he agreed to mentor her, instead. 

“Now I had this amazing, super dynamic and charismatic CEO who was willing to help me figure things out. In the months that followed, he shared a lot of information with me about how to set up a strategic plan, talk in soundbites, formulate networking groups, and so on. It was very impressive to learn how he sets himself up for success and manages his teams to be efficient, effective, and successful! Conversations like that and recipes for success gave me purpose and joy and the courage to keep going.”

In the end, Jocelyne’s tenacity paid off. One of the final elements of TBG’s program involved targeting 3rd party recruiters. She sent emails to a number of recruiters specializing in operations and chief of staff roles. Most of them never responded. 

But one did. 

“Thanks to that email campaign, a recruiter emailed me that she had a client in Miami, a major nonprofit agency, needing a VP of operations and service contracts. She wanted to have a conversation. We spoke and it was a perfect match! She really liked my style, my organization, my presence…. Of course, I sold myself. I had been very well coached by Julie and Paula Nordhoff, another executive coach at TBG that helped me!” 

Jocelyne soon found herself on a virtual call with the CEO and COO of the organization. They invited her to an in-person interview, which Julie and Paula prepped her for. It went very well, and Jocelyne was thrilled by the opportunity. She was eager for an offer but was kept in nerve-wracking limbo for a while longer.

“It was three weeks before they made me an offer. That was a long three weeks! The recruiter was selling me, but she was also selling them other clients. They told me it was a tough decision, but two things set me apart. First, after the interview I sent the CEO a couple of emails to maintain connection and share ideas of what I could offer in the role. Second, it turns out that the organization was trying to establish a business relationship with the hospital whose CEO had just become my mentor. They were impressed that I was already aligned with someone they hoped to make a client. Those little extras helped my efforts to succeed.”

When the offer did come, the compensation was substantially more than Jocelyne had been making. Jocelyne readily accepted and is now happily settling into her new position as VP of service contracts.

“I oversee one of the organization’s divisions, which has a requirement to provide janitorial, food prep, and grounds maintenance services to federal and state agencies using a labor force that ranges between 50%-75% people with disabilities and other barriers to work. We hire and train our team members, and I feel so good about what we are doing. This transition has been a complete industry change and it’s been fabulous!”

To Jocelyne’s delight, there is even a fashion component to the role.

“We host fundraising events for our donors, of which, in the past, one has been a fashion show! We bring in designers who make pieces to show at the event. It is so amazing how everything just came together! I couldn’t have dreamt this opportunity in my wildest dreams. Every aspect of what I identified as my dream job has been met in this role!”

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