Today we have the great privilege of hearing from Susan Luke, BA ’66, as she shares her journey following her time at Baylor. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!
What led you to consider pursuing your current field of work?
- I have always been interested in working with people and to making a difference in whatever way I can. I started my career as a teacher, moved to the credit union movement/industry which is based on “people helping people”, and finally morphed into an entrepreneur/ conference-convention speaker/trainer/consultant.
- Having my own business has afforded me the opportunity to work around the world with a variety of clients and colleagues, across industry lines, and each step in the evolution of building my reputation and business has been part of my original focus – working with people and making a difference.
What is your educational background?
- I majored in Social Science (History, Political Science, Economics) and had a double minor in English and Secondary Education. (Baylor 1966)
- Over the years I have accumulated 40+ post-graduate hours in a variety of subjects from anthropology to linguistics to education. (San Diego State University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Pacific University, University of Hawaii 1967-1981)
- Additionally I have participated in industry specific educational programs and have been certified as a Strategic Planner, Credit Union Development Educator in the USA (CUDE), Australia (DUDE), EU (DEEU) and Internationally (I-CUDE), Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).
What do you feel has best prepared your for your work?
- Growing up as a ‘preacher’s kid’, I often pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in some folks’ minds. However, I was always supported and encouraged by my parents, especially my mom (a career woman before it was fashionable), who believed I could do whatever I wanted to and be successful – hence my rather ‘checkered past’ and variety of careers. During my journey I have learned by dong, accepted challenges, learned (most of the time) 🙂 from a variety of mistakes and missteps along the way, met incredible people around the planet who have contributed to my learning and professional development over the years. The importance of establishing and maintaining professional relationships with colleagues via professional associations and activities has been key to growing my business over the years.
- The Credit Union Development Education training and subsequent workshops and professional relationships continues to be key and very important to my business and my business philosophy. Additionally, the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) and it’s Global Speakers Network (GSN), the National Speakers Association (USA), and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) all continue to play an important role in my continuing professional growth and development. All of these organizations are built on sharing – information, lessons learned, best practices, opportunities!
Please take us through a typical day.
- If only there was a typical day. I travel most of the time and so every day is different. When I have the opportunity to spend time in my (home) office it is generally spent ‘catching up’ on paperwork, administrivia of all varieties (phone calls, emails, bill paying, prep for the next trip, etc.), and of course, laundry and other domestic chores. I am a one-woman shop and that works well for me as a professional.
- When traveling, I generally try to fly early in the day (which often makes for very long days). I never change my watch, I never check bags, I try to ‘hit the ground running’ and work appropriately in whatever time zone to which I travel. This sometimes means an early bedtime that first night 🙂
- When speaking or training, I arrive early (at the least the day before I’m to be ‘on stage smiling’ and I stay late whenever possible. This is especially important when participating as a keynote speaker or concurrent session facilitator – being around for the entire conference/ convention provides additional opportunities for leaning and networking. It doesn’t always work out to be able to do that, but I always try.
- In terms of consulting and/or training with a corporate client, it actually depends on the travel arrangements, the rest of the itinerary, etc. I currently am doing work with an international hotel chain. My most recent trip (last week) was to work with 6 different properties in 4 different countries in Latin America, and 6 different cities – all in a 2 week time frame. Spending 1 or 2 nights at each property and flying to the next stop made for a hectic schedule. I am now home for 8 days before the next trip – international but only for 2 days – all in the same city and country.
- It sounds glamorous to many of my family and friends. The truth is that can be grueling with a variety of variables – weather, flight issues, last minute client requests/changes, etc. If I didn’t love what I do, it wouldn’t be FUN. I am also fortunate that my husband (also a speaker and consultant) and I have found ways to work and travel together, which is a bonus for traveling and our marriage!
What is your advice to students interested in pursuing this world of work?
- Experience, experience, experience!! I would not be as successful today, if I had not had early experiences as an educator and a professional in the financial services industry. I value those early careers and the training and preparation I received through my formal education, as well as through other professional development opportunities, travel opportunities, and the amazing and diverse network of friends and colleagues I am privileged to know and learn from.
- I have always worked. I have one son. I did not travel extensively until he was in the last year or two of high school – we all make choices (some of them are necessary; some of them work well).
- I remember wanting to be successful from the outset – in many ways I was. Cherish the journey, the ups, the downs, the learning, the growth. My mom was right – you can do whatever you want – be open to the experience and understand that everything comes in time!