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Meet Vanita Bellen of True North Coaching and Consulting

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanita Bellen.

Hi Vanita, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a first-generation immigrant of Indian descent and I’ve spent most of my life in Canada and the United States. I followed in my father’s footsteps by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry but knew the career path of a researcher wasn’t right for me. I had always been interested in business, so I went on to get an honors degree in business administration, with a major in marketing. Despite my chosen major, I was more intrigued by the role of human behavior and organizational psychology in helping businesses be successful.

With these two very different educational degrees in hand, it seemed logical that I should try to find a way to combine these two diverse areas of study. A master’s degree in health administration followed and I was finally ready to embark on a career as a health care administrator.

Over the past 30-plus years, I’ve held leadership roles in quality management, process improvement, human resources (HR) and organizational development (OD). As an HR and OD executive, I was able to bring my original interests to fruition and had the opportunity to build collaborative and cultures that were both people and patient-centric.

In 2013, I founded my business, True North Coaching and Consulting, where I focus on executive and physician coaching, creating a customized leadership development curriculum, facilitating workshops for emerging and seasoned leaders, and team-building retreats. I’ve continued to nurture my interest in academics by teaching at the University of Denver.

During the pandemic, I worked actively within hospitals to support caregivers in their personal and professional development. With a new lens by which to observe employees’, leaders’, and organizational needs, and by doing research into up-and-coming leadership practices, I’ve quickly adapted my coaching and leadership curriculum to be tailored to these complex times. I’m finding a tremendous receptivity among the people and companies I work with to explore and integrate these human-centered leadership practices into their workplaces.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Transitioning from a large, established organization where there was a lot of structure and support, to working mostly independently and fulfilling many (all) roles required me to experiment with scheduling and organizing myself. A lesson I learned was that most things took longer than I thought, and so I had to be aware of scheduling client-facing and behind-the-scenes work accordingly.

Initially, I was concerned about developing a diverse client base, furthering my education and studies in coaching, all the while trying to find the right balance between a desire for a thriving business and having reasonable work hours which would allow me time for my family and my personal growth. This is something I have to continuously assess, and I have made it a daily practice to ask myself “what is truly necessary and essential today? Not tomorrow, but today.”

We’ve been impressed with True North Coaching and Consulting, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We coach physicians, healthcare professionals, leaders and teams to create collaborative and compassionate environments, enhance communication and interpersonal skills, navigate conflict through peaceful means, and lead with influence and impact. We support professionals in reconnecting to their purpose and recalibrate their careers while staying true to their values and principles, their own personal True North.

Our coaching and leadership development methods are a blend of art and science, derived from psychology, neuroscience, change management principles, the Enneagram personality assessment, presence-based practices, and proven business tools. We use skilled inquiry to encourage self-reflection, unpack thought processes, honor strengths, recognize habitual behaviors and eliminate self-limiting briefs. All this is explored from the perspective of leadership skills needed to create healthy organizations and achieve results.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Moving to the United States from Canada was a risk, as was walking away from corporate life. While there is no such thing as permanence, there was a degree of structure and security with corporate roles that seemed important to me at the time, particularly when one has family responsibilities.

I’m a believer in being a calculated risk-taker, one part investigator, one part planner and one part jump in and try it out. As an entrepreneur, there is a constant interplay between planning and adapting. For me, staying open to work that came my way even if it initially didn’t seem like it was what I really wanted to do, so often led to rewarding experiences that I’ve come to see that business is a series of course adjustments.

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