Memphis entrepreneur Angela Copeland has spent over a decade coaching job seekers while building her own impressive resume with a career that has taken her from FedEx to ServiceMaster to General Motors and First Tennessee. Angela channeled her passion for helping others find the right job along with her hands-on corporate experience into launching her own successful business, Copeland Coaching, where she guides clients through all steps of the job-search process from personal branding to negotiation strategy. Angela hosts her own podcast, writes newspaper columns and has published her own e-book, Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job. StyleBlueprint is pleased to introduce this go-getter as today’s FACE of Memphis.
Tell us where you’re from.
I’m a sixth-generation Oklahoman. I grew up just outside of Oklahoma City, in a great city called Moore. It’s the place that’s often on the news for big tornadoes. I first came to Memphis on vacation as a child and fell in love. It was a target city for me because of the music, food and culture. Eventually, I moved to Memphis to work at FedEx. I left for graduate school, and then came back again for work. I’m a Memphian by choice!
Describe your early career. Where did you work, and what were your jobs?
My first job was at General Motors. I was 19, and I worked as a quality engineer at a Malibu assembly plant. One of my projects was to redesign the glove box on the Chevy Malibu. It was such a fun first job. At my desk, I had a small saw that I used to cut apart and reassemble the boxes. Then, I would ride around in the cars as they were being put together, making sure the boxes fit into the car properly. After they were made, I drove them around on a “squeak and rattle track” to be sure the boxes were quiet. It was an amazing opportunity to work on cars and to put real live parts into production in the Malibu! I was in Oklahoma City and Detroit when working for GM.
What are your hobbies, and how do you unwind?
One of my favorite hobbies is traveling. So far, I have been to 20 countries. Most recently, I visited Dublin, Ireland. But, in my true style, I spent time networking and meeting with career coaches, government leaders and startup accelerators while I was there. They have so much interesting stuff going on in the career and business space right now! I also love to spend time with friends and enjoy great food and wine.
You choose to live and work in South Main. What do you like best about the neighborhood?
There’s so much to love about this neighborhood, it’s hard to pick just one thing. The residents are wonderful, interesting people. The businesses are all locally owned. We’re right in the heart of Downtown and right on the river, while still having a small-town feel.
What causes are you involved in?
I’m on the board of directors for Memphis Area Legal Services. I believe in the work MALS does because they turn potential tragedies into justice for those who are the most vulnerable in our community. I was also a founding board member for the Memphis American Marketing Association and Memphis City Gardens. In addition, I helped to spearhead a grassroots recycling effort for Downtown residents.
What advice do you have for potential entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship can be a touchy path, especially at first. Take the time to build up your support network. Identify your weak spots and seek help. Most importantly, realize that it’s not going to happen overnight. We often have a picture in our heads of overnight success, but growing a real business takes years of hard work.
Where’s the first place you take an out-of-towner when they come to visit you in Memphis?
I always take all my out-of-town guests to STAX. It’s such a great museum, with excellent exhibits and an inspiring story. I go so often, I keep saying I should become a member!
What’s your favorite Memphis attraction?
You know, it’s really hard to pick just one. But, if I had to, I’d probably say the Mississippi River. We are so very fortunate to be located on such an amazing, beautiful body of water. I feel blessed to have a regular view of sunsets over the Mississippi.
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
The power to fly! Who wouldn’t want that?
What one word describes you?
What inspires you?
Seeing the positive career transformations of my clients.
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
Embrace who you are and what you’re really good at. We spend so much time trying to improve upon our weaknesses. Spend more time focusing on your strengths, and you’ll go farther. This is something I learned when I was in college. I studied computer and systems engineering, and often worked on programming and electronic projects with teams of classmates. I helped to organize the teams, created our presentations and made any marketing materials. At the time, I felt that I was doing those things because I was less good at computer programming than my smart colleagues. At the end of our school careers, we were asked to write about someone who really made a difference for us. One of my teammates wrote about my ability to organize and market our products. It was in that moment that I realized that I should be the marketer because it’s something I’m good at — not because I may struggle in another area. In that same way, when we focus on our strengths, we find more success and less resistance.
What are three lighthearted things you can’t live without?
My phone, my Chapstick and a stack of business cards.
Our thanks to photographer Micki Martin for her wonderful photos of Angela.
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