Spotlight Series: Meet Dr. Amanda Holdsworth CEO and Founder of What the Professor Wore

Tell us a bit about yourself

I'm originally from Canada and always knew I wanted to work in communications. I had my first gig as a radio show host when I was 16 and later interned with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

After earning a B.S.B.A. in Communications Management and Honors International Studies from Robert Morris University and an M.A. in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California, I worked for 16 years in PR and marketing. During that time, I earned my APR and a doctorate in organizational change and leadership (also from USC) while consulting and teaching part-time. This past August, I took the leap and became a full-time assistant professor, which gives me more time to take on consulting and coaching projects.

As a dual citizen, I love traveling and have lived, worked, or volunteered in nine countries. My husband, also an entrepreneur, owns an Inc. 5000 company and we enjoy spending as much time as possible with our two amazing little girls.

What was your first job and how did you get it?

My very first job was working at a music store cleaning, repairing, and selling musical instruments. I brought a portfolio of my music "career" to-date and was hired on the spot.

My first professional job was as a PR assistant at a local hospital. I had made the decision to move to Boston without much of a network after I graduated, turning down two job offers in L.A., so it took a lot of applying and informational interviews to score that position.

How did you decide and get to your career today?

I'm a huge advocate of working your tail off and networking, networking, networking. My grad school advisor told me to not pigeonhole myself into one industry; to try things out until I found my passion. For almost two decades, I've loved working in educational environments because not only do you get to uncover fascinating stories of students, alumni, faculty and staff, but you also get to learn along the way.

I decided to make the move to the faculty side primarily because I was not happy with the talent I was seeing as a hiring manager. During one year, I reviewed hundreds of resumes for positions and less than 10 candidates could clearly articulate their impact, accomplishments, and the value they could bring to my organization. So, I thought, "Why not get professionals at the ground floor--as students--and not only teach them what they need to know to be successful, but also help guide them along their chosen career paths?"

This has morphed into two successful businesses: a PR and marketing consulting firm, CommunicatED, and a career coaching business, What the Professor Wore.

What advice would you have given your younger self?

I would have told my younger self to make the leap into entrepreneurship much, much earlier. Although I gained valuable knowledge in my career, it would have been a lot easier to walk away from low-paying, entry-level jobs to start my own business versus when I was making well over six figures a year, helping to support a young family. Thankfully, we had an exit strategy in place for about seven months before I made the career change.

In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?

I have found my true passion in teaching others. Whether it is coaching women in career planning and tactics, or sharing strategic communications and organizational culture best practices with companies, I hope to expand both my businesses to the point where I am able to take on more global speaking engagements and clients around the world.

Stay connected with Amanda!

Instagram: @comm_ed and @whattheprofwore

Twitter: @CommunicatEDPro

Facebook: @CommunicatEDPro and @whattheprofessorwore

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