From the time she was a fifth-grader growing up in New Jersey, Maureen Shea knew she wanted to work with children with disabilities. Inspired by a neighbor who had Down’s syndrome, she earned a degree in special education and became a teacher.
Little did Shea know that her passion for teaching and the skillset she developed would contribute to her success in a corporate career years later.
After teaching for several years, Shea felt unfulfilled due to challenges within the system and a lack of direction. So she responded to a blind ad for a corporate recruiter position, got the job and transitioned into human resources.
Today, Shea is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Right Management – Florida/Caribbean Region, an outplacement firm headquartered in Fort Lauderdale that serves companies in two ways: talent development of existing staff as well as helping displaced employees transition into new roles.
“We help individuals find their next passion in life, so, in a way, I’m using my teaching skills and capitalizing on the ability to inspire and motivate and find the best in people,” she said.
Under Shea’s leadership, Right Management has helped over 75,000 people in Florida and the Caribbean navigate the stresses of job loss and advance their careers. She created a program donating career transition services to nearly 50,000 human resources professionals, in partnership with HR Florida, a statewide trade association. And, as program chair and a board member of the statewide nonprofit Women Executive Leadership, Shea guides accomplished female entrepreneurs to pursue positions on corporate boards and brings them together to network.
In recognition of both her business achievements and commitment to serving the community, Shea has been named winner of the South Florida Sun Sentinel Excalibur Award as Small Business Leader of the Year in Broward County.
“Maureen is an innovative business partner and is also able to dig down deep and connect with people in a very difficult situation,” said Julie Staub, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Jackson Health System in Miami, who has known Shea for two decades and worked with her professionally. “She’s really good at developing and innovating talent development strategies that help organizations thrive.”
After posting sales of $11 million last year, Shea said she expects to surpass that number this year due to COVID-19. She’s in a counter-cyclical industry, she said, and due to all the job losses resulting from the pandemic, the company is busier than ever.
In addition to inspiring employees to become their best selves, Shea prides herself on her involvement in charitable organizations and professional organizations that allow her to network and mentor future women leaders. She tries to create a family culture by supporting and celebrating everyone she meets.
Shea serves on the boards of St. Thomas University and the University of Southern California Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, and she’s also served on the boards of Holy Cross Hospital and United Way of Broward and volunteered on behalf of Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, Junior Achievement South Florida and the Human Resource Association of Broward County.
“Maureen is very well networked throughout the community, so that helps her connect people with people,” said Scott Northcutt, global senior vice president of human resources for Bermuda-based Bacardi Ltd., who has known Shea since 2004.
“She always shows up at events, and she’s very supportive of our products when she’s entertaining. So, it’s a full partnership — not just a vendor/company relationship.”
Northcutt also said that Shea has impressed him when she’s been involved in difficult circumstances working with displaced employees. “She’s the consummate professional,” he said. “When you’re parting with somebody, you want to really make sure they’re cared for — and I have never lost a night of sleep when I know Maureen is taking care of my people.”
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