Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Maureen Alphonse-Charles
For Maureen Alphonse-Charles, Senior Vice President of Talent, Diversity and Equity at Koya Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group/ AltoPartners USA, executive search offers infinite ways to make a difference. And what a difference she has made. Born into a multicultural, multilingual family of social justice leaders, theologians and educators, Maureen’s legendary empathy and insight have made her a trusted advisor for clients embarking on their own transformation journeys.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Jamaica to my Panamanian father and Jamaican mother and spent my formative years in Britain. We lived in about 14 different locations in at least three different countries growing up. I am fluent in both English and Spanish.
What was your childhood career dream?
My initial desire was to be a psychologist until I started meeting African diplomats in England. They influenced my thinking, and I decided to focus on the area of diplomacy and international affairs as a means of bridging cultures. I travelled to the US to pursue my college education and completed an undergraduate degree in International Relations at Boston University, followed by my master’s in Arts, Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University. I was drawn to these subjects because I am intrigued and attracted to the discipline of conflict prevention, management, and resolution. I am fascinated by new ways to solve global problems and ensure sustainability. My key motivator is to create impact and pave the way for a better future for the next generation.
Are you currently studying?
This year I plan to take violin lessons at the New England Conservatory of Music. I am passionate about music and the arts. In my earlier years, I was a committed violinist, and I played with the Jamaican Philharmonic Orchestra and in numerous quartets. I enjoy the creation of harmony and the fundamental notion that each instrument is an integral part of the orchestra and that each piece matters. I bring DE&I lived experience to the table. I started with DE&I work in the corporate sector, which evolved into identifying mission-driven leaders for a myriad of organizations. Additionally, as a lifelong learner, I am determined to deepen my understanding of DE&I issues. It is a constantly evolving discipline, and I am eager to be at the forefront of this important field.
What was your first job?
As a student, I joined BayBanks not only to gain knowledge but to ensure that I had the resources to complete my education. From working as a teller, I quickly moved up the ranks as a Customer Service Representative. This laid the foundation for my Corporate Finance training at Swiss Bank and, ultimately, my work in the Asset Management field.
How did you get into Executive Search?
It was a fortunate accident that led me to the opportunity to work with two trailblazers in the field. I started in the corporate sector and then continued to focus on leadership searches as well as DE&I executive placements in the non-profit field.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I am energized by the notion of making a difference and creating access/pathways for others, especially those who are voiceless.
Did you have a mentor? What was the best piece of advice they gave you?
Absolutely, I have several mentors. They have provided me with sage advice every step of the way. They have taught me that perseverance is vital and that taking measured risks gives you the possibility to dream and effect change.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get to know yourself and your biases early so that you train yourself to embrace all the possibilities ahead. Be less anxious and more confident: let your inner compass guide you.
How do you relax and unwind?
I enjoy listening to music, decorating (flowers, wreaths and other creative ventures), going on walks, visiting museums, and learning about different cultures.
Do you have a superpower?
I am quite adept at reading people and suggesting matches. I am often sought out for coaching others.
What’s the thing you love most about Koya / Diversified Search?
I love that both organizations were woman-founded and continue their rich history of leadership by a female CEO. It is also multi-disciplinary and offers infinite ways to make a difference.