“People are not expressing themselves at their highest level,” says Susan Callender ’86, founder of the etiquette training firm Oh My Gauche! “They are far too concerned with appearing easygoing and casual in their communications and professional presentation when in fact, this is a delineating factor between those who get the jobs they want and those who are left behind.”

Through her Boston-based company, Callender coaches clients on how to reach their career and life goals by honing self-presentation, social/emotional intelligence and leadership skills.

A key lesson that she imparts in developing professional etiquette is how to be a good listener. Whether in face-to-face or online communication, showing that you have paid attention and can engage in relevant conversation is a responsibility that should be taken seriously.  

While professional etiquette is important for individual career growth, it is also essential for team building, strategic brand development and overall business success. “More and more, employers are realizing that their new hires do not have the soft and interpersonal skills needed in today’s competitive marketplace,” states Callender, “and they are investing in training programs to develop skills noticeably deficient in their workforce, particularly for recent graduates and junior associates.”  

Callender has worked for international corporations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, BNY Mellon and Boston Financial. She has been featured on CNN, National Public Radio and in the Boston Globe among other publications. She is also a presidential appointee to the Alumni Association Board of Directors and an Alumni Association Career Counselor and will lead the Alumni Weekend career workshopHow to Ace Your Next Interview” on June 6, 2015.  

A hotel, restaurant and travel administration major (now hospitality and tourism management) with the Isenberg School of Management, Callender credits her UMass education with launching her career.

“Hospitality is innate in me but it would not have led to my first job at a four diamond hotel property without the proper education and training. UMass prepared me to perform at a top level and has been the catalyst for my growth and success from the moment I left campus.”

As such, it is a part of Callender’s mission to be a catalyst for success in others. “When you make a poor first impression, it can be very difficult to right the ship and recover. I want to guide people in presenting their best self!”