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Live Purposefully like Shunelle Nevers, MA, PMP

"If you're going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can't be erased." Maya Angelou

On a cool Sunday night, Shunelle is wrapping up a virtual meeting with the leaders of an inner-city community in St. Andrew, Jamaica. A typical "9-5" meeting in the week is not the most feasible option for these leaders. With this understanding, she makes herself available to hear their concerns, keep them informed, and build a strong relationship. She believes in a bottom up approach to community development, which is incredibly important for the buy-in and sustainability of any work done in communities. This is Shunelle Nevers, nation builder in community development, and her brand is purposeful, passionate, resilient, committed, positive, and most of all, empathetic.

VBD is back with Part 2 of our short series on how to boost your professional development in the post COVID-19 era. We interviewed one of Jamaica's powerhouse professionals, Shunelle Nevers, a community development and urban specialist. We are thrilled to share her lessons and experiences with you. She wants you to know that professional branding is a strategic part of distinguishing yourself in this post COVID-19 era and that it is possible to be marketable in this time.

The Importance of Branding

People often think about branding as just their career but for Shunelle, it is a bit more holistic. It is who she is and how she shows up in the world. She believes that when you know who you are, you are confident and focused. When you know your brand, you are able to discern which opportunities are the best ones for you. Best of all, you are able to be genuine.

The first and second thing you have to do is identify your brand then define your niche. This journey begins by asking yourself some hard questions: "What is my why? What is my motivation for growth? Is it toxic? Am I trying to prove someone wrong?" She believes that many people have their personal brand, but in some cases, it is not about them. It is about hiding their personal issues and insecurities which may be from childhood traumas. She discovered this on her own branding journey, as she was trying to live up to her father's expectations instead of pursuing what she believed was the will of God for her. She would launch into every opportunity that came her way because she did not know where she was going. Now, she is intentional. In fact, this intentionality has led to the fine-tuning of her niche in community development, which are Educational Resilience and Sustainable Urban Mobility. To be consistent with your brand, Shunelle advised, you must be focused and define your niche.

Her third recommendation is to surround yourself with people who know who you are and know what your brand is. These must be people in your inner circle who you trust with your vision, mission and purpose, and people who have good intentions about you. She is a part of a group of women called The Ironettes, who started out as colleagues then friends, and now sisters. When she used to start and stop different projects, one of her sisters pointedly said to her, “You have a hopping spirit” and “Shun, did you finish what you were going to do from last month?” Their honest feedback helps to keep her accountable to her brand and deliver a singularity in her brand message.

Shunelle highlighted that you do not need a formal education to have a professional brand. This is because there are people who have successful brands without the educational background or there are brands built on something entirely different from what an individual studied. The key is in starting the journey and staying true to who you are. This is one of the ways you can make your mark.

Shunelle Nevers presents her Safe Passages: Safe Routes to School project at the Caribbean Sustainable Cities Conference in November 2020.

Keys to Be Marketable in the post COVID-19 Era

Shunelle's next advice speaks to how you can be marketable in this post COVID-19 era. It involves being agile, focusing on upskilling and staying current. For her, being agile is about your ability to succeed or create a response in uncertain times. COVID-19 brought on much uncertainty, so we need to have the ability to pivot, re-direct and adapt.

With many new skills and careers emerging because of the pandemic, this is the best time to upskill. Shunelle is a proponent of upskilling, which has earned her the affectionate name "Coursette" among the Ironettes. As a community development specialist, she knows it is important to design interventions with post pandemic considerations, because trends have changed. For example, in designing educational resilience programmes in schools, she now has to consider programming therapy to deal with the traumas the children have been exposed to as they now re-integrate into the classroom setting. To keep abreast of these trends, courses, webinars and lectures offer a wealth of information that can take advantage of, to set you apart from others.

She also encourages you to stay current on social media because this is what is keeping us together. In adjusting to the pandemic, she is learning to be more strategic with how she uses social media to promote her personal brand. For example, in the area of Community Development, she was not able to go into the field as she usually did, but she was determined that her brand would not suffer because of this. So she went on LinkedIn, shared activities that are happening in the wider field, liked posts pertaining to her brand and wrote plans about what she would implement for her projects post COVID-19. She states that a presence on LinkedIn enables you to contribute to the conversation as an aspiring professional in your particular area. You should attend events, join groups with seasoned professionals, be ready to introduce yourself, be open to learn and poised to volunteer. You have to find creative ways to join the conversation and differentiate yourself in your given space.

Shunelle Nevers: A Professional with a Passion

Shunelle is in the business of becoming a better professional every day because this is her purpose. In pursuit of that, she recently completed her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in April 2021 and received her certification in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business in May 2021. She has enrolled in the World Bank’s Road Safety course, and will be completing courses in Sustainable Urban Mobility, and Monitoring and Evaluation in COVID. In addition to all this, she is scheduled to sit the American Planning Association exam later this year. When you live your purpose, pursue your passion and build your brand, you can mark your mark in the lives of others in remarkable ways too.

Shunelle Nevers is an advocate for the underserved and vulnerable. She is passionate about creating social impact in poverty alleviation and social inclusion, and building sustainable cities and communities. Her noteworthy accomplishments include her leadership in access to education and inclusive classroom initiatives, particularly focused on improving numeracy/literacy and diagnosing language based disabilities. She has also lead safe routes to school initiatives focused on providing road safety infrastructure improvements for children. She is a nation builder with a big heart and a fierce tenacity.

Connect with Shunelle Nevers



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