Big News! I’m Leaving TELUS (sorta) And Going Solo

Just a few weeks ago I passed my 10-year service anniversary at TELUS. What a blast. What a decade.

I remember working with some team members back in 2009, discussing how we might offer something more meaningful and sustainable when it came to service anniversaries. We ended up partnering with TreeCanada. A few weeks ago a native, non-invasive tree was planted in a rural part of Canada as a token of my service to TELUS.

I suppose the metaphor is appropriate.

The time has come for me to plant a new tree. It’s time to grow a seedling again.

After a wonderfully enriching 121 months, I have made the difficult decision to leave TELUS at the end of 2018. Where to next? What will I do? How will I grow?

Charles Handy, the noted philosopher and author, said to me a couple of weeks ago while our paths crossed in Vienna, “What’s next for you, Dan?”

Charles is constantly challenging you to challenge yourself. I admire him greatly. In fact, I aspire to be just like him.

At the beginning of 2018, I re-read my book, THE PURPOSE EFFECT. Why?

I needed to remind myself of the importance of purpose, particularly the ongoing development of one’s personal purpose. What am I doing to grow my talents? Who do I want to become in the short and long-term? How do I want to be known when I leave a room?

In 1997 I left the high school teaching profession after three years because those questions were not being answered satisfactorily to my liking.

In 2002 I left BCIT as a program director—after five years in the role—because, again, I needed to grow my personal purpose. It was difficult to leave the friendly confines of academia, but I needed to learn about the real world.

In 2008 I left SAP. It was excruciating to leave a tight-knit, all-star family of professionals in the education services space. But I needed a new challenge. I cried like a baby when I informed the 100+ people on the team, but purpose came calling again.

After five years as chief learning officer at TELUS where I was privileged to play a part in the evolution of an entire organization’s operating culture, in early 2014 I left the role (and another fantastic team) and started a new customer-facing business unit focused on culture, leadership and collaboration. My purpose was beckoning for a new challenge. Again. It was fab. We did such great work with so many clients.

On December 31, 2018, I will vacate my role as chief envisioner of that wonderful unit—TELUS Transformation Office—and embark on another journey of personal purpose development.

May I introduce you to Dan Pontefract, founder and CEO of The Pontefract Group, a firm that improves the state of leadership and organizational culture.

The time has come for me to, well, be me. It is time to step out of the shadows.

Twenty-five years of on-the-ground and in-the-trenches experience has emboldened me to make this move. I want to grow again. I want to enhance my personal purpose again. I want to make mistakes and learn from them again. I want to understand how to run a business — my own.

Equally important, I want to help you. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Whatever your personal, professional or organizational issues might be.

My declaration of personal purpose is simple:

We’re not here to see through each other; we’re here to see each other through.

It has guided me through many decisions and numerous obstacles.

My organizational purpose at The Pontefract Group is also rather simple:

Building bridges between life and work.

I am now a free agent, open for business, aiming to work with people who truly want to improve the state of leadership, engagement and organizational culture. (That includes purpose and thinking.) Even writing that feels good.

And lo and behold, I have my first client.


Wait, what?

In the lead-up to this announcement, TELUS generously asked me if I might consider continuing in my capacity as program director of its award-winning MBA program, run in partnership with the University of Victoria. They had me at hello.

TELUS also asked if I would consider being available to provide executive development and consultative support to some of their key clients. It sounded a bit like my mission at The Pontefract Group so I couldn’t resist.

The company released a very kind bulletin across the organization today. It’s rare to read about your departure and accompanying successes only to see that you remain an adjunct, part-time member of the family. Purpose for the win!

In closing, those of you who know me personally also know I wear my heart on my sleeve. Bottom line? I cry a lot.

It has been a very difficult year to arrive at this day. There were a lot of tears, questions, and moments of confusion. Why? How come? Are you crazy?

I suspect I haven’t been the best husband, father or friend through this ordeal either.

Then there was my small team at the Transformation Office. Thankfully everyone has a new role at the company despite the Office being shuttered due to my departure. I feel relieved that each of them has been provided with an opportunity to continue at TELUS. I feel terrible that I had to inform them of a drastic change in strategy and direction.

In particular, I want to thank my friend, Bryan Acker. Since 2004 he has been with me providing incredible insights and counsel in four very different roles in three different organizations, reporting into me directly. If Elton John needs Bernie Taupin to write memorable songs, I appreciate Bryan for helping me think the way I do.

If The Pontefract Group is successful, you can bet your last dollar Bryan is my first hire. (Sorry TELUS)

Thank you for reading. Wish me luck.

And if you need a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, assessor of organizational culture, executive coach, or a very collaborative consultant, my name is Dan Pontefract, founder and CEO of The Pontefract Group.

Email me. I promise to respond.

It’s time to water the new tree.

In this instance, tears are not enough.


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10 comments on “Big News! I’m Leaving TELUS (sorta) And Going Solo”

Hey! I'd love to read what you think. Surely you have an opinion. Love, Dan.