I work in consulting, which is a male-dominated industry thanks to the extensive travel it requires. But for several years after having kids, I worked part-time from home, and the industry grew fast around me, becoming highly competitive. When I rejoined the workforce full time, I walked into the lion's den of fierce competition and cutthroat tactics to close new business.
Then my husband's business started to decline with the economy, and we were in a financial crisis. He was at risk of losing his business and our house was the security behind the loan. I had just changed jobs and joined a mid-sized consulting firm with eight partners (seven men) and promises that one day I would have a chance at partner. When I needed to increase the deal size and client size, I did, and I left the Midwest territory for New York where business was good. In under a year I made partner and had the fastest growing practice at the company supporting almost half the revenues. I leaned in hard!
I started hunting for clients on my own and making connections with the vendor of the software company that I specialize in. We had a sales team in place that I worked with but they were not aggressive enough and I needed new clients and to start increasing my earning capabilities.
Over the course of six years my income increased 400% and I was one of the highest paid employees/partners at the firm. I was loving my job and the new feeling of control that it gave me.
I had been married for 15 years and while my husband always supported me, he never really cheered me on--until I made partner. When his business was in trouble and I stepped up to help the only way I knew how, the amount of respect my husband gave me changed considerably.
So did his responsibly for our two boys and housework. Not only did my new role and aggressive nature to lean in change my career, it made my marriage more balanced.
But after four years as a partner the other partners voted to sell our company. I'm the only partner that disagreed and voted against the sale, but I didn't have enough equity to stop the sale. We were sold to a company that did not respect women in business and I knew my career there was going to be limited. Even though I was the largest revenue producer, there was no respect and no career path for me to follow. The ceiling came crashing down from the first day!
The sale motivated me to strike out on my own. Twice I had built successful practices and consulting groups only to be sold to a bigger company/corporation. This time I was going to build a business that I had control over.
I walked away from two years of earn-out money and a very high salary to start from scratch. I'm on target to hit $3M in revenues in my first year and have the backing of many employees (mostly men) behind me. I have received calls from excellent people in the industry that want to come to work for me when I have the client base to support them.
I hope to make a difference in this industry for women and feel proud to read the hear the stories from other women that I can lean in with! Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for taking this to the next level! You are a woman I look up to.