Chantel Soumis, differently-abled advocate
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Chantel Soumis, marketing manager for Valicom and a differently-abled advocate.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
One of the most challenging aspects about being a digital marketing expert and LinkedIn creator is how quickly the landscape changes, which requires ongoing training and personal coaching. From social and search algorithms to the growing need for technical tools such as video and influencer campaigns, it’s imperative that we stay informed and motivated to push our digital marketing efforts forward and stay on the cutting edge of lead-generation initiatives!
The other challenge I confront daily is my ongoing vulnerability to judgement and rejection. Advocating hope, employment, and prosperity for warriors in the disability community means I have to constantly wear my heart on my sleeve and be open about the various physical and mental challenges associated with my multiple sclerosis. As daunting as it is, it has brought more opportunity, friendships, and encouragement than ever before! It’s a constant struggle, but it has made me stronger as a peer and a professional.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I look up to my parents. They were both entrepreneurs who made their way from the bottom to the top — the American dream! They knew what it took to become successful and they did absolutely everything to get there. They even retired at a strong age and are now enjoying their years off with travel, hobbies, and lots of family time!
I remember my mom used to dumpster dive for “diaper dollars,” which was a rewards program to earn scholarship points to send kids to higher education. Those dollars helped earn me a college education! She taught me what determination and ambition are. She never missed a swim meet, soccer practice, or dance recital, and she was my biggest cheerleader along the way!
My father ended up teaching motivational seminars in Chicago, spending entire weeks away from home. I remember missing him so much, but he taught me the best lessons in life that helped me overcome some of life’s most troublesome challenges. I accredit my wisdom, quick wit, and sales ability to that old man!
What has been the high point of your career so far?
The high point of my career is right now! I believe success is based more on whom you know not what you know, and I’ve been fortunate to blossom in the Madison area since adolescence. Since the digital community has opened, so have those networking opportunities, which has really created a whole new world for professional growth.
With this ever-growing network, I hope to continue advocating for those who struggle with mental and physical challenges, and also help the community outside of this network understand just what it takes to fight hidden and apparent illness. I plan to continue advocating for the differently abled online and in person, along with mastering personal branding and teaching other marketers how to leverage digital media to spread brand awareness and generate leads!
I have learned firsthand how critical it is to continue learning to reestablish your personal and professional brand, which is why I’m excited to spread this knowledge via webinars and training sessions.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would tell my younger self to let go of your fears, put yourself out there, and just do it! It’s all too easy to become a target, and quite honestly it’s inevitable. But at the end of the day the negative comments are seldom constructive, and the ones that are will promote excellent learning opportunities for growth!