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40 Over 40 Features | 2021

Dr. Valerie D.W. James – Forty Over Forty 2021

Dr. Valerie D.W. James
Photo by Devin Ford

Dr. Valerie D.W. James is the Founder and CEO of VisionSpot Consulting Group, LLC and President of Solutions Maximizing Brilliance (SMB) School of Leadership, a division of VisionSpot. Dr. James distinguishes herself with over 35 years of experience in HR, training and development, and operations management and effectiveness field. She holds her doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University and also holds a certificate from Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. James currently resides in Mobile with her husband Anthony and continues to find inspiration in her grown children, Brandon, Sir-Johnathan, Michelle, Antyone, Antyonette, and Anthony.

Tell us about your business(es)/employer. List services offered and/or work you do:

VisionSpot is the SPOT where VISIONS for the future are created and implemented. Our business solutions are designed to enhance the precision of processes, employee productivity, and strategic execution in order to deliver quality outcomes for foreign and domestic companies. 

VisionSpot is also the home of the Solutions Maximizing Brilliance (SMB) School of Leadership, where we offer interactive leadership programs, performance enhancement curriculums, tailor-made instructional programs, and instructor-led eLearning courses for companies worldwide. With over 20 years of experience and a pool of professional consultants, we have helped thousands of business leaders in organizations across the globe achieve sustainable results. 

Tell us why you chose your profession, the value it brings to you and/or the community: 

I have a passion for teaching leaders how to stretch outside of the traditional approach to leadership, create a more engaged and inclusive workforce, and empower people to accomplish productive work from inception to fruition.  

Dr. Valerie D.W. James
Photo by Devin Ford

What is your vision or hope for women in the Mobile and Gulf Coast communities?

As the president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Alabama Chapter, my vision is to help foster partnerships and real sisterhood among women in our state. Together we are embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment or struggling with self-doubt? 

You must first envision the impossible before you can achieve the unbelievable; your mission is possible. Self-doubt is a waste of time. Of course it will happen because women will often be questioned, sometimes by people with even fewer accomplishments or less experience. Empowerment is learning how to ignore these things and be the boss anyway. Sure, someone might question your skills…why does it matter? Just show them what you can do.

If you work with integrity now, it’ll be difficult to question later. There is no 100% guarantee that people won’t try to push you out or block you from ascending, because it may still happen no matter what you do, but you will fly higher and go further with less moving of mountains if you avoid getting enmeshed in the drama and simply let your work speak for itself. 

As the leader, own and respect everyone’s efforts, protect them as much as you protect yourself, and protect your creative work. If there is a threat to productivity, you calmly and plainly do battle with it while your team continues to do great work unhindered.

Was there a moment for you that was a game changer, and can you tell us about it?

During my 25+ years working as an executive in HR, one of my most pivotal roles was mediating relationships between leaders and their employees. In this role, I experienced firsthand the cost of ineffective leadership, workplace inefficiency, and communication breakdowns, and the rewards of improving those areas. 

In what felt like a blink, I was given a vision for changing the face of leadership, which gave birth to my passion for leadership, business, and people development. This vision became the foundation for the firm. With a couple of trusted advisors and a big audacious goal to teach leaders how to transform an ordinary business into an extraordinary one™, my mission became possible.

Photo by: Devin Ford
“Self-doubt is a waste of time. Of course it will happen because women will often be questioned, sometimes by people with even fewer accomplishments or less experience. Empowerment is learning how to ignore these things and be the boss anyway.”
Dr. Valerie D.W. James

How important has education and/or continuing education been to you? 

I am a leadership practitioner by trade, practice, and education. I will never stop learning as it has and will continue to propel me to the apex of my potential.

How important are relationships/networking to your personal and professional life?

Networking is an essential aspect of career and business development success; the extension of those relationships can be collaborative, provide job leads, possibilities for advancement, lucrative partnerships, and opportunities for personal improvement.

Do you have a mentor? Who are they and how have they helped you? 

Mentors who have played an important role in my life both professionally and personally include: Charles Anderson, who stretched me beyond my comfort zone; Mel Washington who tells me what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear; and Voncile Conningham whose grace and elegance, as well as being a Black woman, have clearly impacted my life’s work.

You seem to really love what you do, tell us why:  

I believe in the amazing ability all people have and seek to draw it out in every facet of my work. 

If you have children: What is the hardest part about being a working mom/wife/single mom?  

Living apart from them in a different city is extremely hard. I would love to travel with and see my grandchildren more often. We have some much fun together. However, we make it a point to visit every three months. 

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