Tomorrow is “Back to Work Day”

Today marks the final day of my unemployed status. I’ve had the great luxury of not working while knowing that I have a new job waiting for me. On Monday, I will be joining Towers Watson where I’ll be able to pursue the work that I love. I’ve had an amazing 25-year career in management consulting; specifically focused on the people side of business. My personal mission is to help organizations become better places for people. See my other blog posts on this topic here.

As I wrote in this post, I left my last job because it really did not allow me to pursue my true passion and it was not a great fit for me, culturally. I had a very successful six-year run with my last company but, it was a company whose true passion and strength lies in technology and I got tired of the constant ebb and flow of support the work that I do. I’ve swung from pure HR consultancies (Hay, Watson Wyatt, now Towers Watson) to large integrated professional services firms (Ernst & Young and Capgemini) and both have their pluses and minuses. In the latter, there is a much larger playing field with relationships that extend outside the HR function (though to be frank, these relationships are primarily centered on the CIO). I think these companies afford more access to large-scale transformation engagements. The HR consultancies put me at the heart of the function whose job it is to tend to the people side of business. When the head of HR is strong and strategic, the engagements have been incredibly challenging and transformational. But sometimes, when confronted with the absence of a big picture view, the work can get pretty tactical. What I’d say is that regardless of the consulting category, pushing for meaningful investment in the people equation can often be difficult, but not impossible. I intend to round out what I call the final chapter of my career (let’s say 10 more years) working on making companies better places for humans.

My time off was consumed with a few things: total relaxation, physical and mental renewal, getting away from it all and enjoying the complete absence of stress and pressure. I am sad that it’s coming to an end but am also excited about getting back to a productive, stimulating work life. I’ve set a few principles for how I want to live my life:

• Go to be early, wake up early and get a good 7-8 hours of sleep
• Shut down electronic devices (except Kindle) between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:30 pm
• Spend three hours in the morning working out, doing yoga, walking, meditating, connecting on social media (not work) and getting ready
• Spend three hours in the evening before bed seeing friends, reading, writing, cooking and sometimes watching TV
• Show up at work with an attitude that includes kindness, compassion, collaboration and authenticity
• Spend my weekends connecting with friends and family, or just relaxing on my own
• Take quarterly vacations

In terms of my work, I hope to focus on the following:
• Be a mentor to new consultants and help them understand the fundamental principles of being an effective consultant
• Continue to be an advocate for gender equality in business
• Contribute my ideas through thought leadership and my own personal online presence
• Aim to be a strong advisor to my clients, helping them successfully create transformation
• Introduce a new notion of HR’s role which is to help their organizations adopt practices that extend beyond the bottom line, such as:
o Putting people and planet right up there with profit (The B Team)
o Adding a new definition of success beyone money and power — health and wellbeing (The Third Metric)
o Mindfulness such as Google’s (Search Inside Yourself)
• Live the notions above by helping my own organization adopt a more sustainable, humanistic approach to business

My break consisted of three parts. Part 1 was decompression. When Monday, March 3, 2014 rolled around, I woke up and didn’t have to go work. It took me about three weeks to shake off the feelings I had about what had happened to me. I spent that time sleeping, organizing my home and planning a trip of a lifetie. Part 2 involved five weeks on the road (read about that trip here), traveling around the world; I visited Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, Singapore, Paris and Italy. It was fun, relaxing, and provided me with enough time out of New York to really think about the future and how I wanted it to play out. It was a time of complete self-indulgence and disconnection. Part 3 was four weeks at home before starting my new job. While I quite liked the stress-free feeling of having absolutely no responsibility, I started to get bored. I even got a little lazy. I worked out a lot, but I sort of ended up hanging out at home not doing much of anything. This weekend I was actually deeply bored. So, it’s Sunday now and tomorrow I have a 7:30 am car picking me up to take me to a sales meeting. I’ll be meeting my new colleagues, learning about the (somewhat) new firm I’ve joined and getting on-boarded.

I am so grateful for the time I’ve had and we all know the saying, “all good things must come to an end.” Well, my one an only extended break from work is now over. The next one I’ll have will be some form of semi-retirement. It will be a time of embarking on some totally new adventure; something that will not involve management consulting, going to an office and wearing a business suit.

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