As Communispace’s Chief Client Officer, Siobhan Dullea spearheads great work with our clients on a daily basis. But as we sat together to talk about this article for Verbatim, I warned Siobhan that my intention was to focus on Siobhan the person, rather than the powerful woman who has been with Cspace from the beginning. Our conversation was illuminating — and extremely inspiring.
Siobhan is afraid of sinkholes. Heck, given the recent news stories, so am I. But dread of black ice and spontaneous combustion also give her the jitters. It makes me wonder if this incredibly driven woman, who has such impressive control over her personal and professional lives, is worried about the universe playing a trick on her before she has accomplished everything on her bucket list. (And man oh man, there’s a lot on that list!)
At 44, Siobhan is working toward her black belt in karate. Her two children began lessons a few years back, and she started a month later. Describing it as “totally bad-ass” with a huge smile, she lays out her plan of moving down to Cape Cod in August for a month-long sabbatical focused on tackling fitness obstacles and training with her kids to get ready to pass the final test.
As it turns out, a Mini-Cooper would be her model of choice if Siobhan ends up as a car someday — “in red with polka dots, so it would look like a lady bug,” she says with a smile. I make a mental note to write to Mini-Cooper later with the next big concept idea of 2014. And although she never thought a move out to the suburbs would be part of her life trajectory (“Towns without sidewalks? Ugh!”), Siobhan is now president of the PTO at her children’s school and is firmly ensconced in suburbia. Driving a minivan is a line that won’t be crossed any time soon, however: “It would make me feel like I’ve lost myself”; a self which is deeply passionate about making a real difference in the world.
Siobhan’s older sister passed away from breast cancer when Siobhan was 24. Since then, Siobhan has devoted countless hours outside the office to breast cancer awareness and fundraising. Comunispace’s public, but surprisingly private, CCO has done more than six 3-day walks, has raised tens of thousands of fundraising dollars through Relay For Life, and is “trying to kick cancer in its face” one day at a time. Sometimes, while commuting in on the Red Line across the Salt and Pepper Bridge, Siobhan looks over at the skyline and feels small — in a good way. “That place reminds me that my problems are not as large as many people’s in the world. That one place does it for me every time. It puts everything into perspective.”
Siobhan wasn’t always at the top of the corporate ladder. Geeky as a child (“My friends used to call me ‘Apple Computer’ because I studied so much!”), to the point of inventing a circular beach towel which bypassed the need to move in order to catch the sun during full-day summer beach sessions, Siobhan has worked as everything from a dry cleaner to selling popcorn and hot dogs at Fenway Park to working on an assembly line. She even hostessed in the Theater District at Remington’s (an establishment that’s still there for those who care to visit). “It was the most stressful thing in the world getting people fed and seated before a show. I had managed four-million-dollar accounts — but I couldn’t handle a hostess job!”
Reflecting on her life, “Sometimes the experiences all lead to something larger you didn’t plan for,” Siobhan says, as we wrap up. “But never, ever, stop learning. When you stop learning, well … then it’s just a dead end up until you die.” Pointed and powerful words from a woman who has yet to shy away from tackling the world head-on.
Photos by Stephen Roy (http://www.flfld.com/)