An interview with Jelena Radonjic – CEO of WhatWork

How did you come up with your company name?

WhatWork is the name of my Career Coaching Consultancy and it took me a while to come up with it. I wanted something that would show the importance that work has in our lives and I deliberately chose the word ‘work’, as opposed to ‘career’ or ‘job’. That is because I wanted to capture all different scenarios, people in employment, contractors, freelancers, small business owners and those transitioning into self-employment. After all it is all WORK and work is something that is unique to humans – we self-actualise through the work we do. It is very important to do the work you love or at least align with, in terms of your core values and priorities – I have seen too many people leading unhappy and unfulfilled lives because they are engaged in work that is not their true calling or work that compromises their values, or perhaps stifles their creativity…WhatWork points to the ability to choose, we are empowered to make life affirming choices and chose what we do with our lives and how we want to spend the 90,000 hours – which is the number of hours we spend working over a lifetime, on average. 

What was the trigger for you to start your own business?

I was quite lucky to have always loved what I did, my early career started in Japan, in a corporate environment, in international recruitment. I worked for this Japanese company for 10 years, 4 years in Tokyo and then 6 years managing their European operations from London. I then moved on and worked for smaller recruitment service providers as well as the University of London Career Service. My last full- time job was in Education Management – it was also recruitment, but this time I was matching candidates with top Business Schools and Universities around  the world. In parallel with my corporate career, I was always invested in personal development and spiritual practice, so when I left my last, full time job, I was looking for a way to bring together my passion for human development – both personal and professional, and my recruitment experience. Career coaching emerged as a natural option because I had seen tens of thousands of CVs, applications and conducted thousands of interviews on behalf of my clients or for my own teams…I qualified as a coach with CTI and started bringing into my coaching aspects of my personal development and spiritual work. I would say the main trigger was a new phase of my life, difficulties with family life and personal dissatisfaction with the job, which though I loved, was leading me nowhere in particular. 

I’ve always felt entrepreneurial but didn’t have the courage to go on my own when I had other options….this time round though, I had cleared the ground, starting anew both personally and professionally. That’s when WhatWork was born in 2016.

How do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Personal and business development.

Given that I started my entrepreneurial journey in the second half of my life, I may say that I started late, but I don’t feel that way. There is a long journey ahead of me and I intend to give value and shine the light so that others can see their path more clearly. While I see myself still working in 10 years’ time, or even in 20 years’ time, it is likely to be more writing and speaking than coaching in the shape and form I do now. I will gradually move to influencing many, rather than just one person at a time, and I am already moving that way with my group coaching. Who knows what technology will be available to us then, that will transform the way.

We coach and transform people and the world of work will be nothing like what it is now. 

What is your mission/ vision?

My mission is to raise awareness, my own and those I work with, or get in contact with, through insight and love. That means that my work is primarily spiritual -that’s something that distinguishes me from other career coaches. While I do provide practical guidance around interviews, personal branding, the entire recruitment and selection process, etc. I want to work exclusively with people who truly want to embrace change and transformation and develop all aspects of their lives, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. All of that is in the context of doing meaningful work that fulfils you.

What is your burning desire?

My burning desire is for the human race to wake up and start living according to the higher principles of what is good for the human race and our Mother Earth. We can totally do this once we start cultivating gratitude, expanding awareness, letting go of ego driven desires that are rooted in fear, and once we fully integrate the knowledge that we indeed are one – just many manifestations of one hugely intricate and interdependent organism/ecosystem. Maybe the global pandemic is this wakeup call?

Tell us something no one knows about you ( books, awards. hobbies)

I wouldn’t say that no one knows this about me…But here are some, potentially, interesting facts about me:

I have published several book translations, I am also the co-author of JOY- Recipes for Abundance , I absolutely love world cinema, meditation, fitness and dance, I have travelled to over 50 countries, I once gave a speech in Japanese to an audience of over 300 people, I was doing business before the Internet (!), I love books, dogs, music…and celebrate life every day! Oh, and I write for Forbes Coaches Council and have won 2018 Coach of the Year Award by Gtex. 

You can find more information about me here: 

Jelena is an award-winning Career Fulfilment Coach, speaker, author and Forbes Coaches Council contributor. She is passionate about helping conscious, aspiring professionals thrive in the careers they love. With 25 years in international recruitment and education management and CTI coaching qualification, she brings together unique insights into how recruiters think and how personal coaches work. Having lived and worked in 3 countries, she speaks 4 languages and is passionate about cross-cultural competence and communication. Working in managerial roles with P&L responsibility, sales, business development, candidate selection and talent acquisition, from start-ups to University Career Service, to growing SMEs in Japan and the UK, Jelena has developed a strong business acumen and commercial awareness that allow her to coach clients from a variety of industries and seniority levels. Jelena has also worked with spiritual teachers such as John DeMartini and Deepak Chopra and infuses love, joy and spirit into her coaching and everything she does. Through WhatWork, her career coaching consultancy, she offers individual and group coaching for Career Transitions and Career Development. She often speaks at events on Career Fulfilment, How to Make Conscious Career Decisions, Effortless Networking, Interview Skills for the 21st Century, to name a few. Jelena has coached numerous clients from financial services, consulting, media, tech and public sector and her clients have found roles at PWC, Deloitte, Amazon, Imperial College, UNICEF, Frontier Economics, Tottenham Hotspur FC,  Oxford Instruments, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, to name a few, or have successfully started their own businesses. 

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