Dawn Moynihan: The Most Resourceful Leader with A Humane Touch

Iconic Business Women of the Year, 2023

There are two types of leaders. One who sticks to a rigid formula and stays stubborn not to learn anything new. The other are those who embrace changes that life throws at them. At times they might struggle to withstand the new normal, but these resilient lots adapt and become adept at evolving. It is inevitable for them to create a legacy that has all the ingredients to turn into a milestone etched in the pages of history. Dawn Moynihan belongs to the latter. In her galvanizing career trajectory, there has never been a dull moment. In her current role as Human Resources Director in Corporate America, her every day at work is exceptionally unpredictable. But that’s what she loves about her job.

When asked to define herself in one word, pat comes her reply – ‘resourceful’. She explains, “I can find a solution to just about any problem.” And we nod in consensus.

Dawn Moynihan is a work-in-progress, as one can sense the immense potential she has in store, which she is yet to unleash. And the whole world is waiting with bated breath. As she flips through the pages of her life story, a chapter narrates the above statement lucidly.

It was during that grandiose phase when she was basking in glory with roaring success. Yet, in a parallel world, an inner voice kept nudging her to venture beyond her job role. Without any qualms, she confesses-

“Although I thoroughly enjoy my career as a Human Resources Director in Corporate America, I wanted to build a brand that would completely represent what I stand for, caring for my clients and improving their lives.”

Today, Dawn Moynihan stands tall with her envisioned bigger picture, i.e., creating her legacy via a commendable journey translated into a reality. In the HR sector, she is one of the top Iconic Business Women of 2022.

Dreams V/S Challenges

What might appear as a cakewalk on the surface is built through Dawn’s years of relentless toiling and persistence. There was a stage when she neither had the time nor the resources to make it happen. Slowly it started to create a void. She battled a constant inner chatter questioning her vehemence. As the saying goes: What you are seeking is seeking you; something similar happened to her.

Dawn met her coach 4 months ago, who helped her start her home organizing business. “I accidentally crossed paths with my life coach. But I must say, nothing in life is an accident. I inadvertently typed an extra period on my Facebook post and landed on his website. I took the most significant financial risk to work with him, and it’s the best choice I have made in my career. He has provided many tough love moments but has stood by me every step of the way.” Dawn recollects.

HR Heralds

Dawn’s debut into the HR world was unintended. Before foraying into the HR sector, Dawn worked in the pharmaceutical marketing and health education arena. However, she disliked her job as an account coordinator since she had to sit at the front desk. Numerous distractions frequently interfered with her day-to-day work.

One day, her seat was repositioned, and her desk was now closer to the Senior Human Resources Director. Unknowingly, it opened up new avenues. In between her other responsibilities, she took on some HR assignments.

“I managed open enrolment for benefits, setting up interviews, as well as layoffs in the 2008 recession. I developed an interest in working with the employees and did it well. I was instantly promoted.”

Her career began after 25 years of working in an Executive Assistant capacity. There was an open Human Resources Coordinator Role, and she moved into it as if she had been in HR for years. The transition was seamless.

“I felt empowered as I coached employees with both positivity and challenges. I could finally make a difference instead of being a vessel for executives.”

Eventually, she prepared and successfully completed the PHR certification exam. She has since worked in all aspects of human resources in a diverse range of industries. She has also supplemented her education with an SHRM certification and annual coursework.

Roadblocks, the real mentors

19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was right in saying- What doesn’t break you makes you stronger! Achievers who have braved nerve-wracking encounters would vouch for it. Nonetheless, such setbacks teach essential lessons in one’s professional development. Moynihan personifies it. Recollecting her share of impediments, she conveys that the challenges of starting her company had been fascinating. Nevertheless, it was also quite more demanding than she had ever anticipated.

“I was stretched physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. However, the lesson I learned is that whenever I felt stuck, I could always find an option

to deal with the problem. The secret lies in being creative to find solutions. There is no perfect time to get started.”

Defining leadership and adding value to it

Once again, Dawn proves her individuality as her definition completely contrasts the typical meaning of leadership that broadly revolves around giving people marching orders. According to Dawn, leadership is about extending support and identifying resources to help those individuals with whom one works. This would facilitate them with opportunities to reach their full potential.

“An ideal leader ensures team members feel seen, heard, and appreciated. A good leader should be willing to do anything their subordinates do and be able to do it as well or even better. Leaders show by demonstration.”

Her journey as a leader illustrates her achievement. Her contribution to redefining every role she worked has some compelling narratives. She shares a few highlights and says that in each position she has worked, she has changed a minimum of one process so the department would run more efficiently.

“Some improvements I have made are implementing better benefits, creating an online performance review system from a manual paper process, streamlining job descriptions to meet FLSA requirements, and adding an employee concern resolution process.”

Decoding success

Success is not objective but relatively subjective. It is not sequential or linear. However, a comparison is often used as a benchmark. This is where Theodore Roosevelt’s adage “comparison is the thief of joy” comes into play. Little surprise, the established icons of industry interpret it differently. How does Dawn perceive it, and why so?

Dawn replies with conviction that her description of success has evolved over the years. Once upon a time, she used to measure a significant accomplishment by a certain salary tied to a specific title. Undoubtedly, this commendable leader is grateful for her achievements. But she also realized that money and prestige bring only short-lived happiness.

“Success is when you work hard, but it feels effortless because you stay true to your purpose. It is also when you can mentor others along the way and are able to observe their growth and achievements. When someone comes up to you and tells you how much they appreciate what you have done for them, it is life-changing for both of you.”

Empowering women empowerment

Dawn is a woman with mettle and a mind who knows how to stand out even in the most crowded realms. And it is ascertained through her way of handling the much-talked-about subject, i.e., women empowerment. Dawn shares that she supports this cause by not apologizing when she is not wrong. She makes a legit point that women often apologize for everything they do.

“I prefer to switch to the language of gratitude. For example, instead of saying, “sorry, I am late.” I will say, “thank you for waiting for me.” I also realize that women’s ideas are just as powerful as men’s. So. I encourage other women to be active participants and speak up.”

Interpreting balance and motivation

Balance is Dawn’s biggest struggle. If it is not planned, it usually doesn’t happen. Hence, she always pencils in some time for herself.

“Most people must force themselves to get the work done. And here am I, who has to force herself to relax and let loose,” stating, so Dawn bursts into laughter.

She finds her daily dose of strength and solace by lifting weights, which incredibly improves all aspects of her life. The endorphins she earns from exercise get her through the most hectic days.

Dawn continues to share her understanding of life in its 360-degree panoramic view. She firmly believes that everyone is gifted. The most incredible wisdom of life can be learnt when humans strive to be great listeners. In her meritorious career as an iconic HR leader, she has been studying the homo sapiens. Dawn often spots how most people start mentally rehearsing a response when someone is in the middle of sharing their part of the conversation. This isn’t listening. Rather a total communication failure to decipher the message intended to convey.

“The trick is to genuinely understand what their message is. As you listen and comprehend what people are saying, you will form a fairer interpretation, leading to better, long-term relationships and mutual respect.”

Inspiring the Gen-next

Life has been a great mentor for Dawn Moynihan. Like an obedient student, she kept taking notes of lessons that let her survive and thrive simultaneously. She firmly states that confidence is essential even when one fails. It’s even more critical not to let an obstacle or the influence of others stop you from pursuing your dreams. There will always be naysayers questioning your goals, but deep down, these defeatists wish they had your courage and tenacity. Dawn sums up her advice for aspiring youth icons by saying:

“It is essential to not let the negative beliefs of others stand in your way. If you set an example to persevere during a rough time, you will be a role model. Others will emulate you while facing adversities. Learn from your competitors and add your own flare. Share your expertise with grit and confidence. Be fearless that your opponents will steal your ideas.”