(This interview was organised by the WomenXImpact Summit ahead of my interventions in November 2023).
Welcome to the “Meet the Speaker”, an opportunity to delve deeper into the professional paths of the speakers who will be present at the WomenX Impact Summit 2023.
Today you’ll meet Bruna De Palo, Neuroscience-based Executive, Team & Career Coach, PCC.
Hello Bruna, tell us something about yourself: how did your career start and what were the subsequent steps in your professional journey?
It started with a non-choice! I was 20 years old and had a strong desire for independence. Without asking myself any questions, I jumped on the first available train: fortunately, I ended up in the world of IT. There were great benefits, exceptional colleagues, a good salary... but soon I realised that all of this was turning into a "golden cage," so golden that I couldn't imagine ever leaving it.
Yet, every day I looked out of the window and felt that there was life out there, but I couldn't grasp it because I was trapped within those walls, where today was the same as yesterday and tomorrow would be the same too. I often wondered: Is this really all there is to my life?
Changing my career was not an option with a mortgage to pay. And change to what? I only knew how to do that at my current job.
It was only after years that I realised what the problem was: in that environment, I was missing ME. Technology wasn't something I was gifted at, so I had no way of expressing myself there. My talents, my values, my passion and my beliefs were somewhere else. That's where the immense frustration was coming from... without being able to express myself, I was also forgetting who I was, and I was working more like a Human Doing than the Human Being that I am.
When I realised this, I literally ran away from Rome and landed in London, hoping that far away from the mindset that had trapped me in that vicious circle, I could reconnect with myself and understand what my mission was.
And here I found it… not without drama, fears, and resistance in between. In this journey to find my mission, I understood that the only way to feel alive at work is to transform the workplace into a platform where, by working, we honour our values, express our gifts, and also honour our vision of the world, in a few worlds… everything that makes us Human Beings.
This awareness (encapsulated in the concept "bring who you are into what you do," which is the foundation of my work as a coach) finally showed me what my mission was and gave me the strength to make a 360-degree change.
Today, in my work as a Neuroscience-based Executive Coach, I express myself 100%. In what I do and how I do it, there's Bruna. Not just her skills.
And it makes a huge difference, not only for me but for my clients too, who benefit from my energy, my intuition, and the ease with which I encourage them to expand their awareness.
I often wondered: Is this really all there is to my life?
How has the general approach to studying the brain changed over the years?
In the last two decades, advances in technology have led to significant progress in understanding brain functions. The introduction of non-invasive imaging techniques has revolutionised brain research.
While our knowledge used to be based on observing humans, today we can see in real-time what happens in the brain in response to specific stimuli.
This has led to the dismantling of many past beliefs, although some are stubborn, such as the idea that the left hemisphere is responsible for logic and the right for creativity!
Furthermore, there is now more focus on higher mental processes like attention, memory, language, and perception, and efforts are made to understand how they are represented and processed at the brain level, considering the brain as a network of collaborating systems.
Another significant step forward has been the integration of neuroscience with various disciplines, such as psychology, molecular biology, genetics, and computer science, expanding our understanding of brain processes.
One of the most successful discoveries among non-experts is brain plasticity (neuroplasticity), which is the brain's ability to change and adapt.
Understanding this capacity means opening up to change, embracing the idea that it is possible to change at any age and that what we experience when we try to change is shear resistance, not an inability to do so. The impact of this awareness on people's lives is phenomenal, changing many people's approach to life itself.
...without being able to express myself, I was forgetting who I was...
What are your hopes or expectations for the future of neuroscience, and in which direction do you think the field will develop?
A big part of my work is to bring practical knowledge of how the brain functions into global organisations so that individuals and teams understand themselves better and perform their work to the best of their abilities by leveraging how they are built and function.
My hope is that as many people as possible (especially leaders and anyone who is a parent) can have access to this life-changing awareness.
One thing is certain: when my clients understand how their brain works and, in general, how their bodies work, they are more capable of controlling and changing their behaviour. They are more dedicated to working on themselves and more positive about it because they know exactly what they are doing and why, giving them an extra boost in terms of motivation and commitment.
... when my clients understand how their brain works, they are more capable of controlling and changing their behaviour.
As a Career Coach, how do you help your clients identify their career goals and develop an action plan to achieve them?
The fundamental concept on which my approach is based is that we should not pursue happiness at work, a vague and unsustainable concept. By definition, happiness fluctuates, so we should aim to feel alive at work, to have a "sense of aliveness".
Why? When we feel alive, we are less affected by the ups and downs around us, we are at peace with ourselves no matter what happens, and above all, there are three aspects that I emphasise (I talk about them in my talk and workshop at WomenX Impact 2023):
When we feel alive at work:
Our health starts to benefit;
The key functions of our brain are emphasised (e.g., memory, cognitive functions, collaboration, intuition, etc.);
We contribute to making the world a better place.
So, before talking about promotions, the job market, and career goals, I guide my clients through a beautiful journey within themselves where they discover who they really are, how they function, and what their essence is.
All of this then turns into a "compass" that tells us which role, which company, and which goal is right for feeling alive at work, giving our best, and enjoying the journey.
The point here is to know oneself in order to make choices in which we can express ourselves and remain true to ourselves. How can we be authentic if we don't truly know who we are, what we believe in, how we function, and what is truly important to us?
And success? Real, sustainable success is achieved through alignment with who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
Following this method, which is obvious but far from trivial, we honour our lives and our physical and mental health. We stop working as Human Doings and return to living as Human Beings.
This is my deepest wish for all of us and future generations.
—> To hear Bruna's speech, don't miss the opportunity to participate in the WomenX Impact Summit 2023.