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13 Questions With: Michelle Gabourie

April 14, 2013

Owner, MB Knowledge Solutions

Michelle Gabourie

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

I think that anyone who has accomplished a balance between a rewarding career and family will always be a hero to me. However, what has driven me to the place I am now, are my parents. My parents took a huge risk and started their own business while also starting a family. More inspiring is that they were also able to ‘give back’ by starting a non-profit organization (niagarafoot.com). In my career I hope I can do the same even if only in a small way, in comparison to what they have done.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

I begged my parents to let me have a job when I was 13. Without a driver’s licence, and living in a rural area, it most likely would have been more of an inconvenience to them. However, to allow me to learn about the responsibility of working they let me work at a local pet store, without pay. At the pet store I held a regular schedule and worked once or twice a week for almost a year.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

During my Masters program at UofT I applied for, and was awarded a student job at DeBeers Canada. At the beginning of the MIS program I made it very clear that I had no interest in library services and was instead aiming to work in ‘knowledge management’. I was surprised to find out that in some cases those roles are one in the same. At DeBeers I learned how knowledge management and library services are intertwined, and how important they were in a large organization. I can honestly say that without my job at DeBeers I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

As I run my own business from home my workspace often changes on a daily basis. I do have a dedicated office, but sometimes for a change of scenery I work at the kitchen table, outside (in the summer) or even on the couch. My officemate (and dog) Macaroni is probably the coolest thing that frequents all of my work spaces. He doesn’t really contribute to my work per se, but when I’m hard at work he does remind me to have some sort of work/life balance.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Bargain hunting. It’s the thrill of the hunt for me. I guess my guilty pleasure is actually two-fold because bargain hunting is only thrilling when it has to do with shopping. If I find something I want; new shoes, new purse or even new electronics, I can almost always find it cheaper elsewhere. I will spend time finding promo-codes and searching online retailers until I’m satisfied with my savings. That’s not to say I always buy what I find, half the fun is the research.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Keep trying, even if it means taking chances or re-inventing yourself. If I didn’t work at DeBeers I never would have learned how much I enjoy information management (specifically SharePoint). I have had a lot of different jobs that I thought were the right ‘fit’ for me, but in the end I’ve ended up creating my ‘right fit’. In a lot of the jobs I held I never felt fully utilized, I always wanted to do more and learn more. Many times I was told to just ‘let things happen’ even if it meant being in-efficient. Instead of sitting back, I took on extra work, took extra courses and networked as much as I could. Now, I have a full schedule, work that I find rewarding, and rarely am I underutilized or bored.

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

I can predict the outcome of most movies and TV shows before they end. This ‘skill’ drives my fiancé nuts so I’ve started to bite my tongue, but most of the time I’m right. Sometimes it’s just a guess that I accidentally blurt out, but then by the end of the show I end up being right. Maybe in another life I was a screenwriter, or it’s just a lot of dumb luck.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I hit a few ‘bumps’ along the way, but I feel like I am where I want to be at this point in my life. Not only am I working for myself, I am working with organizations that I am so proud to be working with, like CAMH. I always wanted to do something that helped other people, and my work with CAMH does and will. I don’t know what will be next for me professionally, but that I took the risk and started my own business is something that I am proud of right now.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

Cleaning and reading. Despite what most people think, working from home and for yourself does not mean more time to yourself. Admittedly I can start making dinner while ‘at work’, but the majority of the time it means always being at work and working more hours in a day than I would at an offsite office. So, if I had a day without deadlines, I would clean every inch of my house and go outside and read a book cover to cover.

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

Like many of us from generation Y, I have had a lot of drastically different ideas of my ‘ideal career’. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a very long time. I still think that it would have been a fantastic career, but probably much more emotionally straining than I would like. I always wanted to run my own business and work for myself, so regardless of the industry I think that’s what I would be striving for.

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

Have my own business. This may seem like a compliment, but at the time it was probably more to do with the fact that I was very opinionated and strong minded, and less to do with the fact that I am hard-working and ambitious. I’m still opinionated and strong-minded, but I’ve learned how to develop a balance between those personality traits and cultivating working relationships.

How do you stay current in your field?

As a PMP I am regularly on PMI.org to learn more about how I can efficiently manage projects and what new tools I can utilize to do so. As an information and learning consultant I subscribe to a number of different community groups and forums to stay abreast of any new developments. I also find that LinkedIn is a fantastic way to learn about what others in my field are doing and to follow companies I’m interested in.

What would you like your headstone to read?

I haven’t put a lot of thought into this, but if I had to memorialize myself in one sentence I would want it to say ‘She did more than exist, she lived. She did more than listen, she understood. She loved people and laughter’.

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