Editor’s Note: To celebrate the launch of our new Ellivate Immersion On Demand, we’re launching a spotlight series on the Immersion experience. Often times, we hear from our members that they “didn’t feel ready” to take on Immersion or weren’t sure they needed it, only to come out the other side of the experience having completely transformed their businesses and themselves. So, if you’re considering taking the plunge but aren’t quite sure, this Why Immersion series is for you!


I was a kid who had lots of different answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Veterinarian, physical therapist, psychologist, TV news anchor…I tried on many different hats and went to college declared as “undecided.” I knew the kinds of experiences I wanted to have – traveling, working for social good, inspiring and facilitating – but I didn’t see that manifest as a particular job, per se.

As I searched for that clarity, my dad offered such a great reflection to me in my middle-ish years in college when he said, “Rachel, what I see about you is that you believe in a world that works for everyone.”  I’m a classic middle child, I suppose. I’m interested to know people’s unique stories, and then, inside of that, how to bring us all together, in a shared space, where no one has to be wrong, and everyone gets to be heard.

Thanks in large part to an incredible boss some 15 years ago, I found my way to the field of Human Resources – a place where I could channel my love for people and their stories, and create spaces for them to grow and expand as individuals and as teams. I’ve been following this passion for over a decade with vigor and delight.

And, as often happens along any journey, the simple, flat road starts to take twists and turns. The scenery changes a bit, and you have a chance to pull over, pause, and pull out the map. This is when the questions arise. Those that you didn’t see before while on cruise control (those that seem to appear when you hit the infamous milestone of 40 years of age…). Big, life-altering questions about identity, truth and authenticity. When a friend connected me to the Ellivate Immersion program, here are just a few of the questions I was grappling with:

What matters most to me about my career in HR? What specifically is my work about?

What am I put on this Earth to contribute?

Where am I getting stuck in fear?

How can I feel more alive?

I signed up for the Immersion program with the simple knowing that I had questions, and Ellivate had answers. I had no idea how far beyond “answers” the experience would take me.

The introductory exercises went right to the heart. The “What is Your Why” and “Crafting Your Vision” modules felt like beautifully wrapped, serendipitously timed gifts. Yes, please, and more, thank you. The tone of each call was like a beaconing home; invitations to “take off the mask, we’re all figuring this out together” and “fall in love with your journey” … the Immersion program was a safe, powerful place to re-imagine my work, my world, and the bigger world of work in the company of powerful, generous women.

In October, I found my word – compassion – as the answer to what matters most to me about my career in HR and what my work is about. Five months later in March, the world seemed to flip upside down … and continues to be in greater and greater need of compassion in so many ways. I’m grateful for the Immersion experience and for the life-giving clarity it offered me at just the right time.

Rachel Williams

Rachel is the Founder of Compassion Associates, where she works with HR and business leaders to bring more humanity into the workplace. She is also the interim Head of Operations for OpenMind, a start-up organization that teaches intellectual humility, empathy, and mutual understanding across differences.