Carol Criner, Vice President

Strategic Accounts, HCL Technologies Ltd.

Carol Criner Portrait“Connie has never approached working with me as if she’s trying to make me become someone else. She has always been so effective that way. I actually started working with Connie because I wanted to engage with audiences the way I thought others connected well. Her approach with me over the years has been to help me get clear and confident in my strengths. I’ve learned to elevate my personal stories of me so that I’m bringing “my best Carol” into an event. I no longer focus on trying to act like other speakers. as opposed to trying to be like how I think somebody else does it better. This shift has been really valuable. Through this work, I am comfortable simply being myself. I’m also much better at listening and taking the cues from the audience.

What I appreciate about Connie is her unique experience. Her background – being an actress, success with many different kinds of professionals, and her personal commitment to elevating women internationally. These elements of her background are visible through her work.

When I think about Connie, I’m reminded of the many sessions where she’s recording me, she’s encouraging me to try something new, and she’s bringing her unique life experiences into each session. Connie frequently shares examples of how women engage in other countries. She sends me videos of TED talks from leaders in the Middle East or Europe. She also will a variety  of exercises to help with breathing, etc. Connie is constantly evolving. Her commitment to learning inspires me to do the same.

I worked with Connie for the first time twelve years ago. When I met her I was just starting to speak publicly. I was uncomfortable and nervous. I simply did not know how to engage audiences. Fast forward to where I am now. Now I’m not afraid. I think actively about new speaking opportunities. Connie has transformed me into more of a natural speaker. That’s quite a gift! I have tools now that help me feel centered and comfortable.

She cares. She’s very experienced. She’s a very good speaker herself. She is a constant learner.  She’s interested in where I am at any given moment.  She is not thinking of me as a transaction. All of those things make her uniquely qualified. When I work with Connie I get time with someone who wants me to succeed.

When I’m preparing for an important presentation I practice with Connie. Frequently when I’m thinking about a major presentation that I’m doing or how to engage with audiences, I will start with ‘how do I make sure all the things about me that break down – like my voice gets shaky or I get nervous – how do I make sure I control all the physical things that get in my way?’ Connie helps me chip through that and really focus on the audience. She’s constantly getting me to think about that. She says ‘You’ve got to push through and think about your audience.”  I’ve learned to shift from “what do I do with myself?’ to ‘How do I really make sure I’m landing that conversation well and connecting with that audience?’ Those things weren’t intuitive to me at first and maybe for a long time.

Five words to describe Connie: Credible. Very caring. Very enabling. She’s got a tremendous amount of life experience. She’s able to tell stories she leverage to help me think about what I’m facing.”