Leadership and Business Acumen

Business acumen presentations, tailored to your needs

Donnelly-Shelagh-2018-Copyright-Shelagh-DonnellyEvent planners: Here’s a sampling of Shelagh’s business acumen presentations, any of which she’ll happy customize for your conference or onsite training needs.

For details on any presentation, just click on the “+” sign alongside the topic title. To collapse a presentation abstract, just click “-“.


Perception is reality, so join Shelagh for a look at how executive presence begins with your own perceptions and attitudes. Do you feel your voice is heard? Would you like to enhance your ability to assert yourself, negotiate on your own behalf, or influence others?

Perhaps your focus is on making it through meetings or interviews with increased confidence. Much of this comes down to executive presence, and how to establish one that is authentic to you.

Assistants are accustomed to advocating for their colleagues, but are not always as comfortable with self-advocacy. Career growth is impacted by your capabilities, insights and integrity, but it’s also helped along by healthy doses of self-promotion. Plan to look at exhibiting your best traits through your communication style, including a focus on body language.


  • Eight steps for effective self-promotion
  • How to enhance your visibility and recognition of your contributions
  • Negotiating like an executive
  • You’ve heard of risk management and you may have some understanding of enterprise risk management (ERM), but you’d like to learn more. That’s good, because ERM is an important strategic business discipline that can make a difference in your organization’s ability to execute on its strategic plan.

    ERM done well results in informed decision making, and it reflects a series of processes put in place to manage risks. There’s also integrated risk management (IRM), and Shelagh will explain them both. She’ll walk you through risk processes and the respective roles that employees, management and the board hold in an organization’s risk management. We’ll explore different types of risks and terminology such as risk appetite, ownership and tolerance before moving on to internal controls, internal audit and mitigation strategies.

    As we discuss the balancing of risks and returns, we’ll also look at risk monitoring and tools such as risk registers and heat maps. Shelagh will provide you a clear, elevated understanding of risk management’s role in your organization’s success.
    You continually strive to perform at a high level in your role, which may involve preparing or polishing some of the materials that ultimately wind up in front of the board of directors. Or perhaps you want to gain strategic insights to ensure you add value as an assistant. In either case, it’s helpful to build your understanding of governance. If you’ve ever wondered how a board functions, or why directors may challenge management and ask questions, this session will provide insights on the strategic nature of governance.

    Shelagh, who spent more than a decade in the governance career and writes weekly about governance matters, will walk you through that world. Learn how a board distinguishes its role from that of management as directors bring expertise and oversight to multiple matters – value creation, audits, compliance, disclosure, transparency, risk management, diversity, cybersecurity and other tech issues as well as enterprise, social and corporate governance (ESG) and more. Boards and directors carry significant responsibilities and accountabilities, and they need concise, quality reporting.

    Be prepared to enhance your insights on the principles of governance in this climate of stakeholder and shareholder activism, and learn why respectful debates and some healthy tension are signs of good governance. You can also be prepared to apply these insights to communications, presentations and reports you and your principal may prepare – not only materials intended for the board, but also those destined for management and other colleagues.
    You’re intelligent and you know it, and that’s helped you build your career. You’ve also mastered a number of competencies that are critical to success as an EA. Labels will vary from one organization to the next, but it’s likely you’ve mastered accountability, adaptability, communications and interpersonal competencies. As an EA, it would be surprising if you didn’t cap these off with a service delivery (customer-centric) focus.

    It’s entirely appropriate to rely on your natural intelligence and these core competencies as you build your career, but you also want to draw upon critical thinking skills. They’re pivotal to success as a leader, and they can be developed and refined. If you’d like to hone your critical thinking skills, why not think about them from a leadership approach? Shelagh brings perspectives developed over the course of three decades working alongside C-level executives.


  • The difference between intelligence and critical thinking, and why you should apply both to the role
  • Critical thinking competencies, and how they benefit you
  • Making a commitment to critical thinking
  • Assistants often negotiate on behalf of their employers, and your ability to do so effectively is one more means by which you make yourself valuable.

    Your readiness and ability to negotiate can have positive impacts on two key resources: time and finances. A good assistant will negotiate the most favourable possible terms when sourcing services, events and venues. Skilled assistants can also alleviate frustrations as they deploy their negotiation skills in scheduling and rescheduling meetings, implementing change, resolving or preventing sticky interpersonal situations, and securing sought after seats, reservations and bookings.

    You may already know that Shelagh left the administrative role for a few years mid-career. She built an award-winning career as a sales rep for the same corporation in which she’d been first an executive secretary and then a trainer. She’d already accrued negotiation skills working in those C-level offices, but honed them even further in bringing parties together to achieve mutual wins.

    The extent to which you’re comfortable and effective in negotiating on your own behalf can also impact you personally and professionally. Join Shelagh in exploration of principles and techniques for effective negotiating strategies. We'll also look at why and how you should plan to develop and draw upon negotiating skills when it comes to interviews, performance planning and career satisfaction.

    You’ve established your career and possess multiple competencies that make you adept at executing others’ priorities. Given your job title, though, people won’t necessarily associate the role with authority.

    You can change this and gain recognition and informal authority by igniting your influence. To do so, you need to think outside the traditional confines of the role. Shelagh will work with you on adapting and applying the practices of people a couple of levels above you on the organizational chart.

    This session will provide you insights on healthy self-promotion, increasing your visibility and enhancing your reputation, and negotiating from a position of strength. These are all learned skills, and they’re not only for extroverts.


  • Emotional and cultural intelligence for self-promotion
  • Lessons from the org chart: establishing visibility and recognition
  • Negotiation skills: strategies we didn’t learn in school
  • To have Shelagh contact you for a discussion of your needs, click here

    Click here if you’d like to see what assistants, conference organizers and clients have to say about the training Shelagh delivers.

    Shall we talk? To discuss your plans and needs, drop an email to ExceptionalEAs@gmail.com or click here to send an online request.

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