The Days that Change Our Lives
June 1 marks an important date in my adult life: my work anniversary. Now, you may wonder why my work anniversary is particularly noteworthy; it isn't a milestone year, and I currently work part-time (along with J. Margaret Weaver, of course). For me, it is less about the fact that I am spending another year with a fantastic organization; one that gave me the space and grace to work part-time and at home during a chaotic season of life with two small kids and a husband who is a frequent traveler, but about the things that accepting a job with this organization twelve years ago set into motion.
In April 2009, I was on month three of unemployment during the "Great Recession" and desperately trying to find my next launching point after Big 4 Consulting turned out not to be my entry into the corporate dream. Networking and interviewing were my full-time jobs and I was intent on starting a job in June. The fact that the job needed to be in Ohio was a given; I had no intention of moving any farther away from my family and "home base" than my current three hour drive. Then, a phone call one day from a partner I'd worked with at Deloitte about a job opportunity in St. Louis took me by surprise. He asked if I would be interested in a supply chain analyst job with one of the firm's large healthcare clients. I hesitated; I'd liked healthcare in consulting when it was a project that I could wrap up and tuck away as an experience, but the idea of shifting into that world in a more permanent way made me nervous. When I heard the job was in St. Louis, I paused again. What could possibly be in St. Louis? He spoke highly of the new leader that the client had hired from the firm and suggested that I have a conversation with him to see if I was interested in pursuing the opportunity. I took him up on the offer, not thinking much of it other than having it as a potential backup if nothing local panned out.
After phone calls and in-person interviews in St. Louis, I found myself a month later with a job; not only the one in St. Louis, but also opportunities locally. I'd also had a change of heart about the location. After being resolute in my decision to not move, I saw how much growth potential there was with the company in St. Louis and wanted to accept that offer. It wasn't the best monetary offer, it required relocation (which I paid for after a brief, failed attempt at negotiating a relocation package - I am a horrible negotiator, which is a story for another day), and the job was with a department in startup/restart mode. In short, it was a leap of faith. My heart told me to take it, my head told me I was crazy.
Perplexed by my inner conflict, I decided to put the facts on paper. An Excel nerd to the core, I made a model of all the factors I wanted in a job, weighed them by importance, and then ranked each job to calculate a composite score. I was confident this would not only give my head clarity, but that it would also give me permission to give up what had become the St. Louis dream.
Instead, it showed me how much I valued career growth, being challenged, and trying something new. I'd weighted these factors so high that the St. Louis job ranked highest on paper. While this did not immediately settle my inner conflict - I was still perplexed by the outcome, I started to warm to the idea. I realized that I could go try this for a year or two, and if I didn't like it, I could find another job. The economy would improve and jobs would be easier to find in a couple years. I'd already successfully job searched during one of the lowest economic points; it had to be easier in the future, especially with more work experience under my belt. In short, my naïve mind realized that this wasn't the final move in my career; it was just the beginning of many decisions I would make.
Twelve years later, and I am still not living in Ohio. Much to my surprise, I actually went further west and live right outside Kansas City. My move to St. Louis not only opened up many doors in my career, but it also led me to meet my future husband, get married, move to Kansas City, and raise two children. I'm also in a different season of life. After spending a decade focused on my career, I decided to step back and consult part-time, opening up time to spend with my children. I'm fortunate to have kids that (usually) love to sleep, opening up free time to start this business and try something new that also allows me to live out a new passion. Being in Kansas City is the perfect spot to start this new venture, and I'm in awe of how each piece has connected over my life in such an incredible way. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this community as well as a small piece of helping you you look and feel your best.
Comments on this post (2)
Thank you so much, Lynn! I appreciate your encouraging comments – it’s wonderful to hear feedback!
— KaLeena Thomas
Thank you for sharing this story. I really appreciate hearing about you, your family and career. I don’t know of any other CEO’s of a company that connect with their clients like this. It’s very refreshing. Blessings!
— Lynn Keefer