Dr. Deirdre Pickerell Making Waves on Career Development Speaking Circuit

Dr. Deirdre Pickerell has been invited to present at a prestigious Australian education symposium next month – the latest in a succession of high-profile national and international speaking engagements she’s participated in recently.  

“I see all of these opportunities as a chance to model good career management behaviours for our students. My work has a positive impact on my communities, so I want to talk about it,” said Pickerell, an award-winning career development consultant and Yorkville University’s Dean of Student Success

“It also gives me amazing opportunities to introduce our institution and the services we offer to our students more broadly. Why wouldn’t we talk about all the pivots we’ve done and all we’re trying to do to help students, especially through COVID?” 

Pickerell’s upcoming appearance will be as one of five panelists on a Student Wellbeing in 2021: Challenges and Best Practices webinar organized by Studiosity as part of its Students First online symposium based out of Australia. 

Chaired by Former Macquarie University Provost, Prof. Judyth Sachs, the online panel will discuss Canadian and Australian university perspectives on student well-being and mental health – both during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s really about student well-being, with the theme around mental health and wellness and how we offer support,” Pickerell said of the Studiosity-organized event

“Studiosity is an organization that is really focused on tutoring supports for students 24/7 – that’s their core business…They are very, very data driven in terms of what the metrics are, i.e. if you invest in tutoring for students, how does that impact retention, program completion, and student success.” 

Pickerell’s participation in the Studiosity panel comes hot on the heels of two engagements in which she appeared alongside former Yorkville University colleague Dr. Roberta Neault, president of Life Strategies Ltd.

The first was a mid-January webinar entitled Optimizing Career Engagement in All Life’s Roles for DHM Associates – a UK-based consultancy firm focusing on careers, education and skills policy, research, and practice at an international, European, national and regional level – on Jan. 14. 

“We helped launch their 2021 webinar series for practitioners in the UK, and it was really fascinating, because there were 180 people who registered and I really expected them all to be from the UK, but when people were introducing themselves there were people from Canada, Latvia, Malta, as well as Wales and Ireland in the UK,” she said of the ‘truly, truly international’ experience.  

“Our session was looking at Career Engagement – which is the model we developed for my doctoral work – as a life engagement model. Because, as we’ve been using it, people have saying, ‘This works for student engagement, too,’ and, ‘This works for retirement engagement also.’ Lots of my presentations of late have been around career engagement in an age of chaos and uncertainty.” 

Pickerell also presented with Neault at Cannexus 2021 – Canada’s largest career development conference – during the last week of January. 

“Usually about 1,200 people from across Canada, the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Europe come to Cannexus. I’ve been doing that conference for 20 years – I always go and I always speak,” said Pickerell, who presented during two panels at Cannexus this year. 

In a pre-recorded session, Pickerell was part of The Evidence That Tells Our Story panel that discussed how COVID has challenged the Canadian economy’s recovery, and how pan-Canadian research has showcased how career development is a wise investment in the country’s road to recovery.

She also spoke in a live session entitled Engaging Workers in a Time of Uncertainty alongside Neault, in which the two shared strategies both employers and workers can turn to in order to help stabilize career engagement during chaotic times.

Pickerell gave similar talks at the Manitoba Association for Career Development Conference and the New Brunswick Career Development Association Conference – both of which took place in November 2020. 

And later this year, she’ll be presenting to another international audience at the Asia-Pacific Career Development Association Conference in May, which will be held online this year. 

Pickerell said she thinks her recent speaking engagement schedule acts as perfect example to Yorkville students on the power of saying ‘yes’ to all opportunities that come your way. 

“When you talk about modeling career management behaviour, what a perfect lesson for students to learn. I’m on LinkedIn, somebody finds me, they ask if I’ll talk at their event, I make an effort to say, ‘Sure, I’ll do it!’ and that leads to all these incredible opportunities.”

– Dr. Deirdre Pickerell, Dean of Student Success

“To be clear, I’m not looking for work – but that’s how I’ve spent my entire career…and it’s lead to so many opportunities to network and to meet people I’ve learned a lot from and who have had a big impact on the direction of my career.”

And that, Pickerell said, is precisely why she chose a quote from Karen Kaiser Clark as the signature line of her emails. 

Life is Change. Growth is Optional. Choose Wisely.’

“It absolutely speaks to me, because the only thing in life that’s a guarantee is that things are going to change,” she said.

“If you’re an active participant in how your career is evolving, then you have a much better chance of navigating some of these things. You can’t be a passive participant.” 

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