YPDaily: Rhiannon MacDonnell

Rhiannon MacDonnell is a philanthropic young professional in Calgary with vision and drive. This 26-year-old Doctoral candidate in consumer psychology thrives on being involved in her community and has a passion for bringing people together and building relationships. Read more about Rhiannon MacDonnell, Notable.ca’s Calgary Editor, in today’s Young Professional Daily.

What is the name of the company you work for and what industry is it in?
I am a Doctoral candidate in consumer psychology (with a focus in Marketing) at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, and I am the new Calgary Editor for Notable.
Facebook, Twitter, Personal Website

Elevator Pitch (we just met on an elevator, we have 30 seconds together in the elevator, please describe your business):

I create and communicate opportunities for people – especially young professionals – to get involved in the betterment of their communities.

Why did you get involved in your industry, why this one, what was the inspiration?
I have always been involved in the community, and thrive on bringing people together. I also find people, and behaviour, fascinating. Psychology allowed me to see the best in people so it was a natural fit. Eventually I gravitated toward the psychology of pro-social (helping) behaviour, and my passions for people and community came together.

Now I study how consumers make decisions that make a contribution, whether that is towards the environment (eg. recycling), toward others (eg. by purchasing fair trade), or to charity (eg. charitable donations), and spend my time connecting people and building communities.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Meeting interesting people who are doing amazing things. Everyone has a story and an enthusiasm for contributing whether giving has been a lifelong part of their lifestyle or it’s something they’re just getting in to. Watching people connecting and developing themselves and the community around them inspires me.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping priorities straight in an environment where all the motivation comes from within is probably the most challenging. With so much that is interesting and challenging opportunities to choose from, it can be difficult to stay focused. Getting the last piece of my Doctorate (my dissertation) completed is the current challenge at hand.

Where do you see yourself going in 5 years?
There are three key things I want to be doing. The first is meeting new people, building relationships and learning as much as possible from them. The second is speaking and educating around topics and issues that are important to me. Third, and perhaps most importantly, is building up the communities and people around me. If I can be doing all of that while also travelling, I’ll be especially happy.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Find opportunities to go above and beyond. Reach out to the people who inspire you or who you want to learn from and offer to help. When you get the opportunity to help, seize it and do it well. Develop social equity in those relationships, work hard, and be good to people. If you can do that, you can do pretty much anything.

What is your greatest asset as it relates to business?
I like to think it’s my enthusiasm for a challenge, for people, and for getting things done. I’m not afraid of hard work, and I don’t take myself too seriously – which goes a long way.

What does success look like to you?
At the end of the day, looking at what I’ve done and feeling good about it is my mark of success. If it brings a smile to my face, even better.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Tough to say – I’ve had a number of humbling experiences for which I am grateful.

Within my academic career, getting in to my graduate program of choice at the University of Calgary and then winning my first national scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada were huge milestones that really set me up to propel forward.

Co-chairing the BeCause Initiative at United Way of Calgary and Area (UWCA) for two years changed my life. It allowed me to develop personally and professionally, provided fertile ground for ideas that I could see through to fruition, and allowed me to be a part of something great. And wow did I learn a lot.

That role enabled me to, among other things, sit ex-officio on the Board of Directors at UWCA, which oversaw an organization that raised $51.7 million in Calgary last year. Being at the table alongside community and business leaders of that stature who give so generously and capably of themselves was humbling. I felt very welcome, and I’ll always be appreciative of what I learned from them.

Joining Notable, well, that’s not half bad either.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I have spent a substantial amount of time working with United Way of Calgary and Area, which (if you couldn’t tell already) is close to my heart. Beyond that, I am always happy to help, and I support with my time and my dollars as many great causes as I can. The intersection of public, private, non-profit and philanthropy is where the coolest things happen, and working with Notable allows me to collaborate with and support some amazing organizations in this city.

What is Notable to you?
Anything that involves doing well in the process of doing good. There are few things better than seeing people making a contribution in their communities while also having fun, bringing people together, and generally rocking out what they are doing.

Anything Else?
It’s an honor to stand alongside such an outstanding group!