Aviva Leebow Wolmer: Finding success as a CEO and balance as a coach
When I was a CEO, I made an impact on one business. Now I impact 40+.
Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage Chairs — executive coaches who help guide CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses to make better decisions for their companies, families and communities.
Aviva Leebow Wolmer never envisioned a career following in her father’s footsteps as a business leader. Instead, she attended law school with plans to become a juvenile public defender.
“I wanted to pursue my own career and be recognized for my own merits rather than just being known as my father’s daughter,” she says.
Life had other plans. After law school and while studying for the bar, Aviva spearheaded a project to rebuild the Corporate University within her family’s steel service business. She met with every one of the 150 employees, who openly shared feedback on every aspect of working for the company.
Vistage Chair Aviva Leebow Wolmer
Aviva’s work uncovered trends that pointed to a need for a strategic plan. The initial project expanded, and she was tapped to lead the execution. She soon realized she could have a significant impact.
Inspired to make a difference in the family business, Aviva shifted her career focus to business rather than law. She and her father created a leadership development plan for her to work in multiple roles to prepare her to become CEO in 2014. That same year, Aviva joined Vistage and invested in developing the company’s culture, talent and technology. As a result, the company was recognized as a Top Place to Work by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for four years.
Setting out on her own
Driven to start a business from scratch, Aviva left the family company to launch a metal fabrication business. Unfortunately, COVID hit, and she decided the timing wasn’t right, so she changed paths and, in 2021, became a Vistage Chair.
“My Vistage Chair and others encouraged me, and I liked that coaching was a way to start my own business,” she says. “I also wanted flexibility in my schedule and, most importantly, to do something that would make an impact.”
Chairing allows Aviva to channel her enthusiasm for continued learning, self-development, innovation and growth to other business leaders looking to grow and scale their businesses.
Aviva with one of her CE groups during a retreat in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Aviva leads 2 CEO groups and a Key Executive group with 40 members in Atlanta, Georgia, and in just three short years, is creating the impact that drives her deeper purpose. In 2022, she was named the Rookie Excellence Award Winner.
“Seeing members help each other solve their deepest issues and giving people a place to turn when they feel most alone is when I know that I am making a significant impact with a ripple effect,” she says.
‘Challenged to grow into a better version of themselves’
Wolmer says building a group is not easy, but it is worth the challenge.
“Leaders change when they are in Vistage. They are challenged to grow into a better version of themselves,” she says. “I love watching them transform from the experience. Not from things I have specifically done, but because I have brought them together in an environment that facilitates this type of accelerated growth.
Aviva with her son, Ari.
“Coaching at Vistage allows me to make an impact on business leaders in a way that I couldn’t through consulting or coaching on my own,” she says. “I’m also constantly encouraged by the creativity and passion of CEOs. I love seeing them bring ideas to life and take their businesses and local communities to new levels.”
Best of all, Chairing offers more flexibility in her life, allowing her to spend more time with her family.
“I’ve learned that by designing my life the right way, I can have everything I want and make a meaningful impact,” she says.
Explore more coaching journeys
If this coaching story interests you and you’d like to see more, learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.