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.

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!



What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

The best thing about living in Dane County is that this area is the perfect size. We have the best of both worlds from countryside living to a busy city life, and that opens up so many doors for networking and personal growth! Dane County is filled with many different cultures and beliefs that we can embrace and grow from — I’ve learned that just one conversation can change your life!

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
Aside from my embarrassing mom-dance moves and the ability to always sing off key, I have a gift of connecting with others and bringing people together. I can bake the most delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted, and my arsenal of one-liners is also quite impressive!

What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m obsessed with animals. My husband is, too. When the ponds in McFarland were draining last year to prepare for winter, we were walking our dog and noticed a few dozen tadpoles trying to survive in a tiny pool of water. My husband grabbed a large storage bin, took it to the pond and scooped up the tadpoles. They started growing legs inside of my in-law’s kitchen and we released them shortly after into a habitat that had plenty of water!

We found our husky puppy on the side of the road near Baraboo, and our German shepherd was love at first sight while we were grabbing dog food for the husky at Animart. We can’t help ourselves when it comes to animals! The pet store is a trap for people like us. We will be ordering all the goods online from here on out!

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