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Christie Smith, Ph.D.

Managing Principal & Leader

Seattle, WA

The advice I give others is to be fearless – that’s what I did and my life and job are beyond my wildest dreams.

I was asked to move across the country to help build Deloitte Consulting’s life sciences practice twice, and both times I declined. The third time was the charm and I agreed; that decision would become the most transformational decision in my professional career.

The opportunity to help build a practice was exciting, but I had spent my whole life on the East Coast and had a strong reputation internally and in the marketplace. I had a sure thing: I’d worked for the same client for 20 years; I knew I would continue to be successful on the account, and I could be a senior leader on that team in the future. It was daunting to think about leaving all that certainty.

I declined initially because I was happy with my situation. The second time, my decision was personal. My niece and my father were diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other. My niece, who was part of the Deloitte family, died five months later; my father passed away three months after that. It was a lot to handle all at once. Nine months after my father’s death, the opportunity came up again to move. I needed a fresh start, so this time I said yes.

Making this decision with my partner, Kelli, was pivotal to our relationship. I would now be traveling constantly and be away from her and our two kids. We had to negotiate our parenting roles and our time together all over again. The most logical place to live for my career would have been the Bay Area, but one of Kelli’s asks was to be in Seattle where her mother and sister live. Once we made that decision, we bought a house in a weekend and moved within two months.

The West Coast life sciences market is very different from the one on the East Coast. I had to gain knowledge of the market fast in order to make my transition successful. In my first two months, I sold a very large project, which helped me build a relationship with a senior partner. I dove into his network and was able to cultivate my own relationships, help gain notoriety for Deloitte and drive new opportunities.

The move was three and a half years ago and it has been amazing. Taking a risk gave me room to innovate, to gain more exposure and to pursue bigger opportunities.

Also, the move has made me a better parent – proving quality matters more than quantity. Kelli always says, “We play to our strengths,” she, as a stay-at-home mom and me at Deloitte. We are both happy, which makes all the juggling worth it.

When asked about my experiences, the advice I give others is to be fearless; that’s what I did and my life and job are beyond my wildest dreams.

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