5 Lessons for Finding Your Ideal Executive Gig
(This post was originally published in http://www.mojo40.com)
In 2008, revenues were falling precipitously at a 75-person multinational public relations agency as clients pulled back on their PR efforts in the face of the oncoming economic crisis.
Don't lose touch! Reach out to your network and make it personal.
Amy Martini, who headed the firm’s corporate communications division, huddled with her senior colleagues to tackle the unpleasant task of deciding whom to fire. As bleak as this responsibility was, it got worse the week that she was downsized. After her unexpected dismissal, Amy faced the distressed biotechnology job market with only the barest idea how to wrap her head around the question: “What now?”
During the next year and a half, a few short-term gigs
came her way – but none afforded her the opportunity to use her full talents and creativity. Until a break arrived.
In an interview with Mojo40, Amy talked about how she took advantage of an unexpected opportunity at a pivotal moment.
Mojo40: What was your biggest challenge while job hunting?
Amy: Feeling that I was still relevant. When I was employed, I was used to reading so many professional journals and having all these conversations, and suddenly it was hard not to feel plugged in.
M: How did you get your current position?
A: I knew Progenics Pharmaceuticals because the company had been my client twice before, when I was working at agencies. The CEO had been aware of my abrupt departure. While seeking work, I made the effort to go to industry conferences where I would run into contacts, and to stay in touch. That was a crucial step when my predecessor in this job, who was director of Progenics’ corporate affairs and investor relations, went on maternity leave. I replaced her and am currently acting director.
M: What do you know now that you wish you knew a year ago?
A: I have learned two big lessons. One is something I already half knew, which is that sometimes you are not done with something, you are just done with doing it the way you previously did. I am doing the same type of work I did in an agency setting, but now I function as an in-house person, and that makes a difference.
M: And the second lesson?
A: You must remain open to serendipity. This job is what I wanted, but I didn’t look for it because I didn’t believe it existed. I hoped to go back to work outside the home, but I also wanted to have energy left over at the end of the day. Agencies are high-energy places that can drain you of your life essences, if you permit it. The adrenaline rush can be addicting, but I also endured a one hour commute twice daily, and sacrificed major time with my family. Now I enjoy work that is intellectually and emotionally satisfying but doesn’t drain me entirely.