I spent 15 years working for my previous employer, starting as a summer intern following my junior year of college. In the first five years, I had assignments in engineering, sales, human resources and marketing. When I decided to pursue graduate studies, the company supported my interests and offered to sponsor both of my degrees in business and divinity in exchange for five years at the company. I agreed and went on to complete my education. I returned to the company in a management position, excited for my future.
Over the course of my employment agreement, many of my executive sponsors left the company. Although senior leaders continued to paint a very bright future for me, at the end of my five-year agreement, I was asked to take a lateral assignment rather than the General Manager role I was expecting. I was shocked. I felt like all of the air had been sucked out of the room, and out of me.
After the initial shock came the grief for the fifteen years of loyalty that suddenly felt wasted. I grieved the loss of the only professional dreams I’d ever had. I feared my unknown future—which was especially challenging given the false confidence created by years of being dubbed “high-potential” talent. Although I hadn’t updated my resume in years, I knew I could not stay and began planning my next career move. I felt scared and uncertain.
With the help of mentors, corporate contacts, and a competitive set of work experiences, I found myself with five job offers in under three months. I ultimately chose the role that best leveraged my prior experiences, while at the same time providing sufficient opportunities to grow.
Fast forward to several quarters later when I received a call from the CEO congratulating my team on our success. I distinctly remember walking, or rather bounding, down the hall as I reflected on my transition. I experienced a rush of emotions: utter joy, followed by a rush of pride, knowing I had survived perhaps the most difficult professional decision I’d ever made. And I hadn’t just survived, I had thrived. That experience taught me to never abdicate personal power and choice as a result of fear.
Six years and four promotions later, I am still doing work that I love and that has a profound impact on the lives of patients and families around the world. In addition to running a business, my role affords me the opportunity to coach, mentor and develop internal and external talent, as well as to professionally speak on topics that encourage people, especially women, to be their own advocates.