I have been in the world of career development for awhile. In some ways, I have been in it since the start of my career 25 years ago. I have always been motivated to understand how people think about their work and careers and tried to help my friends, employees and co-workers make sound career decisions that aligned with their values, passions and goals. Over my career, I loved learning about leadership, management, recruiting and professional development and consumed many trainings, classes and books.
My personal and professional experiences over the last 15 years have been a journey of discovering my true passion and developing into a leader, change agent and teacher in higher education. My career began on a very business-focused path: consulting at Bain & Company, MBA at Stanford, brand management and marketing at The Clorox Company, marketing, product development and general management at The Learning Company, and marketing and business development at WorldRes. I developed high standards, a strategic mind-set and a results-oriented attitude.
Becoming the CEO of MindSteps and eProNet provided me the opportunity to understand career development theory and recruiting dynamics. I discovered that I most desire to help people lead fulfilling, authentic and coherent lives – much more than I wanted to be a CEO of technology start-up companies. In 2001, I became the assistant dean and director of the MBA Career Management Center at Stanford University where I witnessed the career and job search challenges and pressures students and alumni face. In addition to mentoring and advising, I taught strategic job search and career management, negotiations, networking and Career and Life Vision. I discovered that I could help many navigate the process – and relieve the anxiety – by providing them with new ways of looking at their life, career and job search.
In November 2009, I attended a conference at the Whidbey Institute where I was confronted with the reality that this generation of young adults is dazed and confused – hopeful yet discouraged; desiring social change yet desiring financial and career security; ambitious yet unwilling to pay their dues. The world is changing rapidly and today’s young adult must learn how to grow and thrive quickly. They must be self-aware, values- and purpose-driven, cross-culturally competent, and change resilient. Otherwise, they may lose many years wandering in search of themselves and meaning. I surmised that American universities hold the keys to educating, guiding and equipping students to proactively lead authentic, coherent, vibrant lives. Sadly, few universities have made the investment required to address this significant problem.
When I met President Nathan Hatch and learned how he sees Wake Forest University as “a deeply personal place, dedicated to community and face-to-face interaction [that] helps students connect who they are with what they do — helping them to find meaning and purpose in their lives and work”, I shared his passion and felt called to realize his vision.
I believe that I am on earth for many reasons – and being at Wake Forest right now is one of those reasons. Assuming we are able to fulfill our vision, the lives of thousands of Wake Forest students will be positively influenced. And if other universities follow our lead, our innovations may influence the future in a very positive way.
I hope that you will join us on this fantastic journey. Who knows? You may play an important role in helping the our next generation to lead authentic, coherent, vibrant lives filled with passion, service, impact and gratitude.