Shipra Seefeldt

Posted on May 1, 2009 :: Face Time
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Photograph by Jeff Lendrum/Image Studios for Insight

She has lived on three continents, speaks four languages and runs two companies: Strategic Solutions Consulting LLC and the Seefeldt Institute for Family Business, with offices in Appleton and Milwaukee. Shipra Seefeldt is also president of the Appleton Downtown Rotary. She sat down with Insight Editor Margaret LeBrun to talk about how adapting to change is a constant in her life.

My life has been about adapting to change and I have had to do that time and time again. The stability that my family has afforded me has helped me to look at change in a constructive manner.

I was born in Calcutta, India. My father was the first foreign student to attend the Institute of Paper Chemistry, which used to be in Appleton before it moved to Atlanta. He had all these wonderful stories about this place called Appleton. I used to think Appleton would be a place with a lot of apple trees – I grew up with mango trees and coconut palms so I didn’t quite know what an apple tree would be like. At age 9 I went to a British boarding school in India, which was much like you see in the Harry Potter movies, kids going off to boarding school. It was in the Himalayan Mountains and there were kids from all over the world there.

I lived a fairy tale existence because my dad’s job had certain perks with it. For example, we had six gardeners that went with the house. We had three guards at three gates. They would stand at attention and I remember sitting in the back seat with my dad and saluting them. Now I look back and think that was such a different life.

My dad was the manager of a large paper mill owned by a British company. Because of the regional political unrest (in 1969) the four of us left with our four suitcases for Canada with no jobs. At that time you couldn’t take money out of the country. We had nothing. We knew nobody.

My family offered stability. During my four high school years I lived in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, because my dad went where he found jobs. I learned three alphabets and I am ?uent in four languages. My mother was a professor of English.

Most recently, my ability to adapt to change was about going from the mental health field into business consulting. I was the CEO of Family Service Association of the Fox Valley and I took my expertise in intergenerational family therapy and added to that a lot of education in organizational development and industrial organizational psychology.

Through my company, Strategic Solutions Consulting, I provide management consulting services and business psychology services. I help businesses to enhance their performance by creating positive change. I do a thorough, in-depth evaluation of what’s working and what’s not.

In my subsidiary, called the Seefeldt Institute for Family Business, one focus is succession planning. A very low number of businesses actually transition to the second generation. Most of them end up selling or dying. That process of succession, I believe, is fraught with some heavy-duty psychological issues that people want to avoid.

My parents taught me how to take a risk. When I work with people I am oft en talking about them needing to move out of their comfort zones. I have had to do that many, many times. Even in my role at Rotary, I’m the third woman president of a 90-something year old club and the first ethnic minority.

My dad was a Rotarian in India, my husband was a Rotarian in Canada. (He is vice president of operations for a paper converting company in Oshkosh. We have two children; Greg is an assistant golf professional at a country club here and Anjali is at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.)

We have 20 or so teams of Rotarians of this club that are actively engaging around community projects in downtown Appleton and with the Appleton Area School District. We have a world medical project, in which we pack supplies to go all over the world, and four years ago we established the Fox Cities Multicultural Center. We look at how we promote inclusiveness and celebrate diversity if we are to attract diverse people to come to Northeast Wisconsin to help our businesses grow.

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →