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Bailey Parnell

SkillsCamp is a soft skills development company. We work with businesses and educational institutions to build soft skills in their staff and students.

Across all industries, employers and industry leaders are identifying soft skills like communication, teamwork, time management, emotional intelligence, and leadership as critical skills for job hunters and employees alike. Yet, these core skills and several others are relatively absent in the traditional education model. The result is students who become employees and leaders without the requisite skills to excel in their careers. SkillsCamp teaches this “missing curriculum” to help people become more employable and more effective leaders and contributors.

We believe in adapting to our clients’ needs. Our clients choose the skill they want to develop and the most convenient method of delivery. SkillsCamp then customizes our learning to their specific industry and their contextual needs.

We are a value-driven company. We care about how people learn as much as what they learn. At SkillsCamp, we tailor to the needs and learning styles of our students and clients. We believe the best way to learn is when you can bring your whole self. Our instructors walk the walk by living and working in what they teach every day.

Tell us about yourself?

Bailey Parnell is the Founder & CEO of SkillsCamp, a soft skills training company, and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Bailey is a 2x TEDx speaker with over 4 million views, an award-winning and internationally-recognized entrepreneur, an active humanitarian, and one with a talent for helping people develop the skills they need for success. Her work and expertise have been featured in Forbes, Good Morning America, Fox, and more.

Bailey’s company SkillsCamp is a soft skills training company that works with businesses and educational institutions to help their staff and students develop the essential skills needed for personal and professional success – skills like personal branding, stress management, emotional intelligence, and, you guessed it, public speaking! Before this, she built up her career bringing digital student engagement to Canadian higher education through her work at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) – models that she had travelled the world speaking and sharing.

Bailey is currently working on her EdD in Learning and Organizational Change at Baylor University. Previously, ​Bailey did her Masters in Communications and Culture at Toronto Metropolitan University with research focused on social media’s impact on mental health, the results of which have been shared in multiple global forums, including the World Youth Forum in Egypt and Digital Wellbeing Summit in Saudi Arabia. This created the basis for her signature 5 Steps Towards #SafeSocial and a connected non-profit of the same name. She is an honours graduate of the RTA School of Media, majoring in Media Production and double-minoring in News Studies and English.

Through her skillful storytelling, confidence, research, and humour, Bailey has audiences laughing, engaged, and walking away with skills that shape their life. Bailey frequently speaks about social media and mental health, soft skills, intergenerational understanding, and being a woman in business. She guest lectured her first MBA class at 21 and has since spoken to over 4 million people across the world.

Previously, she has worked in social media marketing at CBC and Bell Media; assisted instructors in Seneca College’s Social Media: Graduate Certificate Program; taught English abroad, and worked as a local news reporter on Rogers TV. Though the rest of her family is from Nova Scotia, Bailey was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, has lived in Toronto for most of her adult life, and recently moved to New York City.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I’m not one for regrets and am aware of the butterfly effect. Everything is as it should be. However, perhaps I’d start my doctorate a year sooner!


What problem does your business solve?

People need soft skills like resilience, problem-solving, and communication for personal and professional success, and most especially in the age of AI. But these skills are not taught in school and often not in the home either. We teach this missing curriculum.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I started my career in film and television but was introduced to the world of social media as it was a burgeoning field. I was drawn to these storytelling tools more and to designing the future. My team and I saw how social media was used well by marketers and asked if we could use the same tools to engage students more wholly in their education. We started building models for digital student engagement that we ended up sharing with universities around the world.

I worked in higher education for years, specifically in the Department of Student Affairs, which is responsible for the development of students outside the classroom. This includes departments like health and wellness, student engagement, learning support, the career center, etc. Here, we taught skills like resilience, time management, interviewing, and others. It was clear that the students who used the services were more successful, but the reality was that most didn’t. I initially started SkillsCamp not because I wanted to be an entrepreneur but because I saw that those students become employees and then leaders without these requisite skills to be personally and professionally successful. At the same time, there was a tonne of research coming out of the government, Academia, and the market all saying the same thing: there’s a skills gap in our [industry/country], and the reason for it is a lack of essential/soft skills. I thought I was the perfect person to solve the problem because I had a unique intersection of working in the soft skills development of the university, understanding marketing and sales, and being a speaker and facilitator. That’s where it all began, really. I just started offering programming, and it grew and formalized over time.

What is your magic sauce?

We work holistically with all soft skills, so we understand the interplay between the skills and how building one may inherently help others. In this way, we can advise our clients on the best program combinations to run to best meet their goals. Many in this space focus on just one skill (I.e. resilience or public speaking), but we have a broader scope without sacrificing depth.

We have all three skills areas to design effective and incredible learning environments. We have practical experience working in different industries. We have Academic pedigree in terms of understanding learning design or the psychology of learning, and we have histories in performance and engagement. Do not underestimate that last one. You can have the most experienced, smartest person in the room, but if they are not engaging, people will not want to learn from them.

Finally, I’m not just saying this because of this publication, but I have actually found being Canadian to be a huge asset in this line of work. Dare I say we are socialized with a set of soft skills that work more effectively with international partners? I have had more than a couple of clients outright say to me, “Our [insert country] team would prefer to work with Canadians”. Take from that what you will, but we have some magic!


What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

The vision is the same as it was at the beginning. Ideally, we do not exist in the future. If we succeed, soft skills will be so understood they will be taught in the home as easily as how to speak. They will be part of all school curricula. They will be part of employer onboarding and professional development programs. And so on…

In the next five years, though, I’d like to expand our “ready to order” SkillsCamp signature programs. Right now, we take a consultative approach with all clients, but we’ve been doing this long enough now that I think I can offer “pre-packaged” extended programs that are based on some of the most common issues and skill deficits we see. For example, I’d like to offer a “first-time people leader” program.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

When the pandemic hit, we went from 100 to 0 in the span of a week. Before the pandemic, most of our programming was in-person. We always offered online programming, but it was just not asked for as much. It was a tough time, perhaps more especially because my Mom was dying from, and eventually succumbed to, Cancer simultaneously. Fortunately, my background in media production came in very handy when we had to evolve everything to online delivery. You never know when your past skills will make a fresh appearance!

How can people get involved?

If you know of an organization or team that could use some skills building – perhaps they need leadership development, conflict resolution, or team-building – please send them our way. They do not have to be Canadian! Learn more at