Campus & community, Work life, Events at Berkeley

Staffers "reflect, envision and act" at NOW Conference

By Sandra Messick

Almost 500 UC Berkeley staff members took advantage of the campus’s fourth annual NOW Conference (Next Opportunity at Work), showing up to “reflect, envision and act.”

“Staff is the most important asset this university has,” said Rosemarie Rae, associate vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer, in her opening remarks. “We’re invested in your success.”

The all-day gathering provided opportunities for staff members at all levels to develop, grow and even think about changing their careers at Berkeley. “In keeping with the conference title, this year’s theme invites staff to empower themselves by reflecting on what they want professionally, to envision what is possible in their career future, and to take action now to take their career to the next level,” said Sidalia Reel, director of staff diversity initiatives and chair and creator of the conference.

Keynote speaker Na’ilah Nasir, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, encouraged attendees to reflect on their careers. “My own journey illustrates the promise of working hard towards a goal, but being open to the journey, using your talents in ways you couldn’t have imagined, and walking through doors that open, even when it scares you,” she said.

Fifteen workshops covered topics including “Emotional Intelligence as a Success Factor in the Workplace,” “How Feedback Can Boost Your Career,” “The Powerful Benefits of Mentorships” and “Mindfulness as a Tool for Personal and Career Evolution.” Two sessions targeted managers: “Creating an Environment for Engagement” and “Innovation and Nurturing Staff Talent.”

Michael Thompson, a 22-year staffer, has attended the conference twice. Currently a business analyst and Shared Services IT staffer, he said, “I’m looking for any and every opportunity to better myself and connect with others’ to be in the spirit of development and engagement.”

Lunch keynote speaker Clara Chorley, CEO and founder of the business life-coaching firm Clarity Unlimited, said she is all too familiar with the discomforts that can arise when changing careers.

“I didn’t want to follow the normal route in England, which is go to university, get married, get a dog, all that stuff. I didn’t know what my ‘thing’ was. I just knew I’d feel it or recognize it when it happened,” said Chorley, whose new book is called TURN: 4 Steps to Clarity in your Career . “My work today helps people with the inner game, the inner struggles, the doubts, the conflicting parts, and how to find alignment and move forward.”

A new feature this year was the Career Genius Lab. With the help of campus professionals including lead recruiter Justin Fiske, staffers could build or update a LinkedIn profile, have a headshot taken, and create a career development plan online.