About Shelagh: Speaker and Trainer

Donnelly, Shelagh - headshotShelagh is a professional speaker and trainer who’s walked the administrative walk. She presents internationally on matters of relevance to career-focused executive assistants, and to governance professionals who support boards and directors.

She writes about administrative and governance careers for a number of publications and is the author of “The Resilient Assistant”, due to be published in 2019.


How do you pronounce that name? 

“Shelagh” is the same name as “Sheila”, but with spelling that reflects Gaelic origins. Want some help remembering how to spell it? As you look at this photo, you may think to yourself, she laughs.

Put She and laugh together. Then pull out the “u”, and you have Shelagh!

You’d like to know more?

Shelagh began her administrative career in the private sector, with a national company. As Executive Secretary to the company’s head of BC operations, she was so effective in creating and leading learning opportunities for the organization’s administrative staff that she was tapped for a role as corporate trainer. A few years later, having relocated to a smaller city, she rebooted her administrative career.

In all, Shelagh worked with C-level executives for well over two decades. She supported a public sector board of directors for the last decade of that career and has also chaired a board herself, leading a national professional association. Long active in American and Canadian professional networks, she has experience as a mentor and a mentee.

Click here for a sampling of Shelagh’s keynotes and training presentations

A positive and inspirational trainer

Drawing on both formal education and corporate training in adult education, Shelagh began using her vacations to give keynote and other presentations at conferences in North America and abroad. Her forward-thinking messages are well received and, in 2018, she made the leap to speaking and writing full time.

Shelagh customizes her presentations to your audience and your event goals. Assistants appreciate Shelagh’s ability to educate, inspire and challenge them – not only on meetings, organisational skills and other matters of longstanding relevance to the career, but also on governance, cybersecurity, onboarding, communications, resilience in times of change and more.

Employers and professional associations appreciate Shelagh’s presentations for the same reasons, and because she inspires resilience that supports high performance.

18_2015 Shelagh-at-ESL-LIVE-Conference-2018

London, March 2018: Shelagh with some of  IMA’s (International Management Assistants’) leaders and members from Belgium, England, Norway and The Netherlands during a break before her presentation at Executive Secretary LIVE

Shelagh and her audience members connect with one another because it’s clear that she understands their world and cares about their wellbeing and success. Pragmatism, empathy and humour are hallmarks of Shelagh’s presentations.

An informed thought leader 

Shelagh launched her Exceptional EA website in 2013 and is read in multiple countries. She remains attuned to the administrative career through her Weekend Polls and through her Real Careers interviews with accomplished assistants.

Shelagh writes for Diligent Corporation and for Thomson Reuters’ AAU (Administrative Assistant’s Update). She is also a contributor to Executive Secretary Magazine and the International Association of Administrative Professionals’ (IAAP’s) IAAP Edge.

Click here to see what clients and audience members say about Shelagh

Professional affiliations

Donnelly-Shelagh-headshot2018Shelagh’s Canadian and American professional affiliations have included the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (NAPAHE). Through the Association of Governing Boards’ (AGB’s) Board Professionals Leadership Group, she has served as a board professional mentor.

She is a member of Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC) and has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of CICan:GPOP (GPOP), a national association affiliated with Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan).

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