Chanel Nelson Says ‘Yes’ to Improve her Community and Expand her Career

Chanel Nelson
Chanel Nelson

Photo by LaJuana Taylor

Interview by Hannah Sprouse

A few years ago, Chanel Nelson started saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came her way. Though she has since taken a step back, these opportunities opened doors to a variety of commitments that she would have missed out on otherwise, allowing her to be more present and involved in the community. Among her achievements, Chanel was selected to join a team of 15 HR young professionals from around the US to serve as an advisor to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in addition to serving on the alumni board for Central Pennsylvania College (and chairing their mentorship & professional development committee). Since these commitments have ended, Chanel has launched her own business, Effih Realty, which focuses on real estate investing to eliminate student loan debt and tackles issues surrounding affordable housing.

Name: Chanel Nelson
Age: 32
Profession: Senior HR Generalist | Continental Office; Owner | Effih Realty
Neighborhood: Eastmoor/Bexley
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

Where did you grow up, and what brought you to Columbus? I relocated to Columbus in 2010 from Georgia for work. The interview was my first time ever in the state. I remember thinking how beautiful and green it was.

Give us a snapshot of your career path: I’ve been blessed to work for some amazing companies. Out of college, I worked for Walt Disney World in Florida as a Professional intern in their Casting Center. After my internship, I moved back to Georgia and worked for the Atlanta Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena as a Graduate Intern in their HR department. I moved to Ohio to work for Honda Research & Development in Raymond, OH as a Recruiter 2010. After four years there, I transferred to Honda Manufacturing where I was the HR Business Partner responsible for starting up the Acura NSX supercar plant in Marysville, OH. Seeking an opportunity within a smaller company, I found Continental Office in 2016 as they were searching for a new HR person to join their two-person team. The timing was perfect as the Acura NSX had launched and was starting production. I saw the NSX project from its clay model stages at R&D to launch, it was a highlight of my career there.

Tell us about your current career role: My role has evolved a lot in my three years of being with Continental Office and I have enjoyed every moment. Currently, I am responsible for a few corporate initiatives. One is to evaluate, select and implement a new Human Resource Information System for the organization while the other is related to creating a student scholarship and internship program to provide opportunities for students to pursue degree opportunities that align with major’s we recruit from. In turn, this will help our organization establish a continuous pipeline of fresh talent in the Design, Architecture and Construction fields.

What’s new and exciting at Continental Office? There is always something new and exciting at Continental Office! Most importantly, it’s our 80th year in business so I am looking forward to celebrating big with the team later next month at our Anniversary Celebration. It’s been a little over a year now but we are also still enjoying the opening of our new Downtown studio located at 4th and Chestnut. If you haven’t been, stop by to check out our office and learn about our Hopewell partnership which is a gathering space for ALL professionals to connect, work and grow.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? I enjoy going to work each day. I’m a new mom so that may throw a few curveballs of its own on a daily basis but ultimately, I enjoy creating, collaborating and seeing new projects through. On the other hand, my family is what gets me through the workweek. In everything I do, I do it with them in mind. That feeling is reciprocated when I come home and get lots of love from my one-year-old son (Mason) and husband (Michael).

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? One of the most beneficial lessons I have been taught started around a game of Sudoku. This was years ago and I was struggling to try to complete the Sudoku puzzle by completing one block at a time and a family member that I consider a mentor to me, Kevin Wright (Inspirational Leadership Speaker), told me to take a step back and look at the bigger puzzle. Although very simple, for an amateur to the Sudoku world, a light bulb went off in my head and it has stayed on. When I approach problems, I am always seeking the bigger picture. Sometimes to a fault but ultimately, I always end up with a more open-minded perspective or multiple solutions to a problem.

Explain some of your work-life balance challenges. How do you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle? I had to learn what Chanel’s boundaries were. A few years ago I decided to say yes to every opportunity that was presented to me. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was selected to join a team of 15 HR Young Professionals from around the U.S. to serve as a YP Advisor to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) for two years. Overlapping and for the next three years, I served on the Alumni Board for Central Pennsylvania College and chaired the Mentorship and Professional Development Committee. Simultaneously, I was offered the opportunity to join the Executive Board of the Columbus Urban League Young Professionals (CULYP) and co-lead the Personal & Professional Development Committee. In addition to my leadership roles, I made it a point to stay active in the Columbus Young Professionals (CYP) and the Human Resources Association of Central Ohio (HRACO). Those experiences provided me with wonderful opportunities where I have been able to grow professionally and personally but on the other hand, I do not think it would have been sustainable to maintain all of those positions while nurturing my marriage, growing a family, being a great associate and pursuing my own business ventures. I finished my commitments at the end of last year and decided that I would not sign up for anything else at the moment and focus primarily on work and home-life. I wouldn’t change any of it. You can do it all but you do not have to do it all at the same time.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind? My husband is a homebody and I am typically on the go. To unwind, I enjoy spending 1:1 time with him whether that be snuggled on the couch watching TV, going out for a movie or a walk around our neighborhood.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a doctor. As I got further along in high school, I narrowed it down to an Obstetrician/Gynecologist; however, I do not think that I had the right guidance to take my education seriously or pursue the paths necessary to follow that dream. In my senior year, I took college classes and received my Certified Nursing Assistant certification and my Bachelor’s degree has a minor in Healthcare Administration but after taking my first HR class, I fell in love with the field and never deviated from it.

What might someone be surprised to know about you? I’m not sure, I am typically an open book. I was an avid basketball player growing up, at 4”11, which could be surprising to some. Although not very competitive, I did play in college and I also participated in the Women’s CYP league for a couple of years.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Time travel. Why not?!

What books/podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? I do not listen to music anymore when I am driving. My podcast is always on to Bigger Pockets Real Estate, Bigger Pockets Money, Journey to Launch and Investing in Real Estate with Clayton Morris. It’s hard for me to sit down long enough to read a book so I rely on audiobooks when possible and I recently downloaded Blinkist which summarizes books in 15 – 30 minutes but I am still trying to decide if I like it or not. It’s a teaser and maybe better solution to revisit books you have already read.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose? My Great-grandmother, Ruth Jackson. I didn’t find out that I had a living Great-grandmother until I was in college. It was exciting and heartbreaking. I was grateful for the few years I was able to spend time with her but felt cheated because it was so short. She was a Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) lover so I would take her to a basketball game, eat concession foods and have the time of our lives.

What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus? Columbus is a small city with a lot to offer. I always say there is something for everyone here. Each neighborhood has a special place for eating, shopping or hanging out at a local park. It’s a great place for foodie’s, whether its Himalayan dumplings at Momo Ghar, seafood at the Columbus Fish Market, and all of the sweet spots you could think of. There is something for every palate. I enjoy hanging out at the Scioto Mile and enjoying a patio or rooftop anywhere in the city when the weather warms up.

Tell us about a community initiative that you’re most passionate about. Since I am not officially serving on any boards, a lot of my time has been focusing on learning more about real estate and real estate investing in particular. Columbus has a huge affordable housing crisis. Last year, there were 18,000 evictions in Franklin County alone. I am not sure where my efforts will land but hopefully, I can positively impact some of the change efforts that city leaders and housing advocates are striving towards.

What’s the most exciting thing about Columbus right now? With us winning the Smart City grant, I think the most exciting thing is seeing all of the activity around pushing Columbus to be a city of the future and having the opportunity to be a part of that in some shape or fashion. Mayor Ginther said, “Transportation is not just about roads, transit, and ride sharing. It’s about how people access opportunity. And how they live.” We win as a city when everyone wins.

What are three things you wish Columbus had? This is a hard one. I enjoy the small city feel of Columbus and there is always something to do regardless of the season. Do warm weather and a beach less than two hours away count? I know everyone says this but a professional basketball team would be exciting. It would also be nice to have more traveling attractions visit like the Color Factory and Candytopia.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? There are some people in Columbus that are the “pulse” and what will make Columbus the city of the future. Those people care about their neighbors regardless of their cultural background, social economic status and/or religion. Those people are hardworking and innovative and do their part to push the city forward. Those people are inclusive and stand up for others when something is wrong. Those people are the “pulse” of Columbus.

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