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Feb 23, 2022

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Joanna Wozniak, Senior Consultant at HBR Consulting and former ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet. Joanna, whose run with the Joffrey started as a seasonal artist in 2001, went on to enjoy a two-decades-long career with the esteemed Chicago dance company. In 2009, Point Magazine named one of her performances as one of their “12 favorite performances of 2009,” and she can also be seen as a dancer in the feature film Save the Last Dance.

Outside of dance, Wozniak holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in business analytics from the University of Chicago — two of the world’s top universities. Having held accomplished careers both on and off the stage, Joanna holds a unique perspective on the value of the “Plan B” and how to navigate the pursuit of education, while juggling the responsibilities of professional dance. On the podcast, Joanna discusses all of this and more as she recounts her journey from the ballet to the board room.


Moving Quotes:

"Having additional passions and drives and not becoming siloed in dance is extremely critical... All of these things are only going to inspire you to be a better dancer."

"Don't dump a lot of money into education for an area that you don't actually want to go into... And I don't think a person is the same at 20 as they are at 35. You must be in line with what it is you're passionate about."

"Going to school while dancing is a huge transition... Your first few years in a company, you may just want to wait and adapt before going to school... Education today is a lot more fluid and flexible, with online and distance learning options."

"The past couple of years have been such a critical time for many people in the arts and in dance to reflect on what they're doing with their lives and where they're going. And what types of possibilities are open. It's a natural leverage that COVID has had on us."

"There are some characteristics that we, as dancers, carry as people. And that would be your drive and ambition. Your tenacity. Your willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve and accomplish your goals. Lots of people would love their employees to have these skills."

"Dance is not about the individual at all. It's all about the team and everyone who is collaborating with you. There is so much more going on than what is seen on stage."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:41: Joanna starts the conversation by retelling some highlights from her accomplished dance career.

5:46: Joanna describes some skills attained through dance that have elevated her career as a consultant.

8:36: Wozniak explains how dance taught her to be a good team player — a skill she uses daily in her consulting career.

10:39: Joanna recounts some of her most memorable moments as a professional ballerina.

12:09: Wozniak briefly retells the story of being called upon to dance in the feature film Save the Last Dance.

13:30: Joanna – who received degrees from some of the world’s top universities – discusses her decision to pursue higher education and the challenges of juggling school and dance.

18:03: Joanna gives some incredible practical advice around finding which degree is right for you when pursuing higher education.

21:55: Joanna reflects on the biggest surprises of the corporate world, after transitioning from the extremely active dance world.

26:20: Wozniak shares some tips on when to pursue more education while professionally dancing.

29:29: Joanna gives some advice for parents, encouraging their children to pursue their dance passions while also pushing for a “Plan B.”


Bullet List of Resources – 

Joanna Wozniak