Sharon Chakkalackal, senior policy advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, took part in the "How to Reach Your Potential" initiative, an interview series featuring leaders who inspire Alex Rascanu and whose insights can help you reach your potential.
Sharon Chakkalackal is a public health professional with Canadian, American and international experience in research design thinking and strategy, program evaluation and policy development/analysis combined with strong communication abilities, quantitative and qualitative analytical and interpersonal skills, with a strong passion and motivation for delivering results and meeting deadlines.
Prior to serving as senior policy advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, she served as stakeholder engagement advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Project Manager for the Hospital for Sick Children and health systems consultant for the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island.
Sharon holds a BSc in anatomy and cell biology from McGill University and a Master of Public Health from Brown University.
Connect with Sharon on LinkedIn and Instagram.
Sharon: To share my light with the world and through that light make the world a better place to live in. We live in a world that is rapidly changing with technology. I choose to focus on compassion, empathy and connection with clients and coworkers. Having a clear message to convey at work and sharing that knowledge in a collaborative compassionate way. The soft skill of kindness goes a long when creating and strengthening relationships.
Alex: What are the three things you’re most passionate about?
Sharon: The topics of seniors’ health, mental health and how to motivate people are my current areas of interest. Seniors’ health is important because we are all getting older and that is the future. Mental health because it is a silent factor that does not get talked about enough in work places. Lastly, motivation speaks to employee mental health and the overall culture of how an organization is run. So my interest in motivation of staff stems from the desire of creating healthy and happy workplaces.
Alex: How do you stay healthy? What’s your main health-related goal?
Sharon: A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind and spirit. Yin yoga and lifting weights keeps me fit. Exercising outdoors, by playing sports like beach volleyball in the summer, keeps me happy and healthy. I strive to exercise 3 times a week.
Alex: How do you build wealth? What’s your main financial goal?
Sharon: I strive to make enough money to live a healthy life and pay for my mortgage! I build wealth through tax-free savings accounts and registered retired savings plans.
Alex: How do you balance work and family life?
Sharon: I struggle with work-life balance. Mindfulness and being present where I am helps tremendously. So if I am at home, I remember that, and if I'm at work I am present at work.
Alex: How do you enjoy spending time with family and friends?
Sharon: I enjoy dancing, dining, and discovering new parts of Toronto with family and friends. I also enjoy me time and journaling, meditating, and practicing mindfulness is top of my list. It's important to have my cup full before sharing my cup with others.
Alex: What has been the most fulfilling role you’ve ever had, or the most fulfilling project you’ve been involved with so far?
Sharon: At McGill University I was a resident advisor who was responsible for 40 students. Seeing them happy and grow throughout the year was very fulfilling. I like helping others and monitoring progress over time.
Alex: What’s one career planning lesson that has made a significant difference in your life?
(1) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote speaks to me because it helps in so many contexts, e.g. when reviewing performance with my manager, public speaking at events. How we see ourselves is fundamentally the most important thing in making progress and gaining overall happiness. A gentle tone and comforting words to oneself go a long way.
(2) Believe in your goals and with hard work they will manifest.
This quote builds on the first quote. First you need to believe in yourself. Then you need to believe in the goals you’ve set for yourself. With hard work, they will manifest.
Alex: What would you like your legacy to be?
Sharon: I loved and was loved. And I was curious. If that alone was written on my tombstone I will be satisfied with living a good life.
Alex: Sharon, thank you for taking part in this interview!
Did you find one or more of Sharon's thoughts helpful? Are there any ideas or resources that came to mind as you read the interview?
Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below, and consider sharing the interview with a friend via social media or email.
Also, consider checking out the How to Reach Your Potential interviews with Trina Boos, Hamza Khan, James Tjan, Vlad Rascanu, Drew Dudley, Alexandru Holicov, Andrew Mizzoni, Christa Dickenson, Louise Adongo, Sarah Chaudhery, Jake Nicolle, Andy McIlwain, Busola Akin-Olawore, Rebecca Laramée, Richard Obede, Bailey Parnell, Cerys Cook, Blake Snow, Sean Cooper, Toota Nihal Hassanien, Kulwant Bangar and Angela Achitei. Thank you.