Melissa Carson

Founder | People strategist for women-led businesses | Advisor and coach for HR leaders who want to be more strategic |Coach for leaders at a career inflection point at Canopy Strategies, a Crim Dell Consulting company


Education: College of William and Mary - Marymount University
Bear, DE, USA


* Having worked for several high-performing organizations for 25 years, including Accenture and EPAM, Melissa Carson founded her own business offering thought leadership, people strategies, and leadership coaching. Her clients range from small non-profits to scaling technology companies, all with a common goal of ensuring that they have aligned their business and people strategies to drive growth.

* She has served as an adjunct instructor at Wilmington University's Human Resource Management program, served as a board member for the Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy, and published two books on leadership and career management.  Her first keynote presentation at DisruptHR in the fall of 2019 focused on The Fall of Supervision and the Rise of Performance Coaching, and she continues to speak regularly on leadership topics.

She’s recently published two guides for leading yourself, one focused on loving the life you are living and one focused on loving your work life. Her author page can be found here:


I love to talk about employee experience, the impact of leaders on an organization, careers, running, and good red wine.

Featured Video

I am willing to travel

More than 100 miles

When it comes to payments

Everything is negotiable


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Best Story

Looking back, one of the early managers I worked with gave me a solid lesson on imperfect leaders.

This manager gave me a piece of feedback on how I was being perceived by others on the team. He had good intentions. However, what I took away from the experience was that no one liked working with me. I resigned. Even when asked why I was leaving, I couldn't admit that this was the real reason, and that manager didn't acknowledge that my leaving was likely as a result of his feedback.

It wasn't what he said or how he said or why he said it. It just didn't have the impact that he was assuming it would have.

My lesson about imperfect leaders from this experience is that it takes more than good intentions to have the desired outcome.

Origin Story

I believe in taking career leaps of faith. My biggest one so far came in 2019 when I decided to leave my corporate HR leadership role to start my own business. I had realized a few months earlier that I loved my job most when traveling...not because of the opportunity to see new places, but in how I spent my time - advising, coaching, strategizing.

I took this career leap of faith to go out on my own because I wanted to spend most of my time doing those things, not all of the things that come with being in an HR leadership position.

So now, I am a leadership advisor and coach who thrives on working with individuals hungry to keep being better in how they lead themselves and others.  I leverage my extensive HR leadership experience and coaching credentials (ACC) to surface the imperfection gremlins that hold each of us back and identify strategies to tame them so that they become intentional positive leadership behaviors.

My coaching and advisory focus is individualized for each individual or group.  There is no one size fits all strategy that will work for everyone.  We are each “messy” in our way, and I focus on how each leader can harness the “messy” in a way that works best for them.

Example talks

The world needs more imperfect leaders

The role of a leader has evolved over the past two decades and significantly over the past 3-5 years. The old playbook doesn't work anymore.

It's critical for leaders to own their imperfections and become more intentional leaders.

This session can focus on:
- what it means to accept your imperfections
- how to move toward a more intentional leadership approach
- how leading has become more of an art than a science

This topic can be covered in organizations, with community groups, in higher education forums, or a conference event and can be tailored to the group.

Many of the topics I discuss on LinkedIn or my article/blog posts touch on this topic of imperfect leadership. You can see blog content here:

I have also published two guides on Amazon that reflect that there are no perfect jobs and that a perfect life is not the goal. They're available here:

There are no perfect people. There are no perfect leaders. Leading is a "messy" job to lead effectively - different motivations, different ways of thinking, different experiences. It's time to rethink what leadership development means.

Check out my session on the Elite Edge podcast to hear our discussion on leadership:

Talks on careers, leadership, and people strategy

I host bi-weekly LinkedIn audio events and periodic webinars/fireside chats.

My Spotify Podcast Playlist

You can hear many of my sessions here:

How to orient yourself and your business around better people strategies

I shared 3 key ideas on a recent episode of Ask Jeremy Jones - the Ideas and Impact podcast.

📌All organizations rely on people to sell, deliver, and operate. To maximize performance and impact, you need a people strategy that aligns with your business strategy.

📌Recognizing when your people strategy is not working requires regular focus, attention, and action.

📌Developing leaders is often the most important tenet of your people strategy but it’s often overlooked as a nice-to-have.

No Perfect Job

I had the great pleasure to join Brad W. Minton and Cassie Spencer on their podcast, Your Career GPS, to talk about the themes in my book, 📙There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Job: A Practical Guide to Loving Your Work Life.

You can listen here:

Mindset of a CEO

Are you starting your own business or running one now? You will need more than a great idea or product to enjoy the roller coaster ride of small business ownership. We all need to do the mindset work upfront and day-to-day to be prepared for what might come, both the high points and low points and days when we ask why am I doing this? The past two years have changed the game when it comes to leading organizations. To be a successful leader of yourself and your teams, it's time to rethink what leadership means and how you want to show up.

I've shared this talk several times with Delaware SCORE.