Leaders & Achievers 2022
Director of innovation and entrepreneurship, Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Education School
BEING AUTHENTIC is a critical quality Jodie Woodruff possesses to inspire future leaders.
Woodruff is the director of the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Education School’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which prepares high school students for real-life careers through a rigorous entrepreneurship program. Participants learn the skills and concepts necessary to run a business with hands-on practical experience, including meeting and networking with business professionals.
In her role, Woodruff encourages and engages students as they strive to successfully complete the program, and finds that she gets her inspiration from them.
“Working with students motivates me, there are no two days alike,” she said. “I’m motivated by their curiosity, working with them and building on their strengths to watch them grow and find their own ‘aha’ moments.”
For more than 20 years, Woodruff has been an essential member of the Met school’s team, starting as a learning specialist working directly with students. She has been in the innovation and entrepreneurship director role for 14 years.
‘My approach to leading and moving others is to be my authentic self.’
Over the years, she has developed her own philosophy, which has benefited countless students.
“My approach to leading and moving others is to be my authentic self,” Woodruff said. “Be honest, open and willing to work with people. Ask questions. Tell the ‘why’ of any decisions made. And encourage and coach others to be their best.”
Early in her career, Woodruff learned the importance of listening and responding when she was told by a supervisor, “I do understand. I just don’t agree.” From that point on, Woodruff said she understood that listening is important.
“I don’t have to agree with what I hear, however, it is really important to me that I understand where people are coming from,” she said.
That’s especially true when coaching young people who may not be used to being heard or haven’t yet learned how to use their voices. Woodruff always seeks to improve herself and become better at everything she does.
“Each day, in both my personal and professional life, I am motivated by trying to meet or beat my personal best,” she said.
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