A Time to Every Purpose

November 20, 2012 by Wally Bock

Michelle V. Stacy is the president of the Keurig unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. She describes her career in NY Times article titled, “Stepping Back to Lead Better.” Stacy’s story is a wonderful example of how career paths are often a mix of choice, chance and necessity.

The beginning looks “normal” enough. There was college and an MBA. There was some time off for fun (as a ski instructor) and some study in Europe. Next was the common period of several jobs before settling with a single company, in her case Gillette.

I put the “normal” in quotes for a reason. Careers often start in a similar way, but each one is unique. Ms Stacy was with Gillette for 23 years.

She took herself “out of the corporate race” twice. The first time was to get closer to customers by going into sales. That’s a little unconventional, but she’s convinced it helped her win a Vice President’s post.

The other time was for reasons we hear about often, the need to care for children or aging parents. That switch was supported by her boss and put her in a demanding job, but one with less travel and stress.

Stacy’s story demonstrates how most careers happen. There’s some choice. There’s some chance. There’s some necessity. What there’s not is the sort of “normal” career that we think of when we think talent development.

The key is that a career is part of a life and that life takes place in a world that’s wider than a company or a community. If we want to do right by our people, we have to recognize that and stay agile ourselves.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Talent Management

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