A tribute to a true leader and friend
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
I was sent reeling recently with the passing of a dear friend and mentor – a person that sent me on the path to coaching and was instrumental in me launching Vision Coaching.
Deb Armstrong was a true leader – a force for good in the field of human resources. She was tough as nails, with high expectations of others and her profession.
But behind that unrelenting exterior was a heart of gold.
A teacher and administrator at the University of New Brunswick Saint John campus, she extended herself to all of her students, especially those new to Canada.
A founder of the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick and owner of Armstrong HR Consulting, she was such a fixture in the profession that after I arrived in Saint John, people would tell me: “You’ve got to talk to Deb.”
And so I did. At the time, I had just co-founded a company called Profiles Global (Atlantic) to support human resources processes in the workplace. At our first meeting, I dropped the coffee I was holding because, frankly, I was so nervous! We laughed about that encounter for years after.
‘You’ll be fine, Dave’
She spent hours with me in her office – guiding me, cajoling me, pushing me to think more critically about this or that.
She was a coach and mentor like no other. When I asked a question, often her response was to hand me a book and challenge me to find the answer I was looking for. (Clearly, I wasn’t the only one tapping into her library – you had to sign the books out!)
Although many years have passed, I remember at one point wrestling with how to work with an established team decades my senior that was embroiled in conflict. I can still hear Deb assuring me: ‘‘You’ll be fine, Dave, as long as you put in the effort to prepare.”
And then, one day, she said: “I really believe you’d make an excellent coach.”
Leadership coaching was something I had considered, with curiosity more than anything else. She, along with my wife, encouraged me to explore it and then gave me the confidence to pursue it. She was instrumental in launching me on the journey to where I am today.
Everyone needs someone like Deb in their corner.
I’m so grateful I had her in my life. Rest in peace, my friend.