What are they
Senior Director of Strategic Planning at Shure Incorporated
What were your early years like?
I grew up in Indianapolis. Both my parents were educators, and while I had (and still have) great respect for the profession, I knew I wanted to do something different. I thought I’d grow up to be a doctor. But instead, I ended up discovering and majoring in chemical engineering at Purdue University.
How did you go from engineering to consulting?
My first exposure to the business world was during a summer internship in R&D at Kraft Foods. I enjoyed the work and the company so much that after graduation, I returned to Kraft and worked there for about five years before getting my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. I wanted to expand my sphere of business influence and continue to build on that MBA education. That’s when I realized consulting might be a good fit for me. As someone with a science and engineering background, I was analytical and a good problem solver.
Initially, I was drawn to the people I met and the great brand reputation. But, what kept me there for more than 14 years was the ability to keep growing and evolving professionally. The firm offered many opportunities to do different things, and I had supportive mentors who helped me chart my own course.
What were some of the different roles you held?
At first I did a lot of full-time client work, mostly focused on operations. Then the firm supported me in taking on a number of internal roles as my personal life situation evolved. After having my first child, I worked as a school recruiting manager for Kellogg in Chicago. As my kids got a little older and needed me to be around more, I served as a director of intellectual capital. I also did client work on a part-time basis, spending three days at a client site, taking Thursdays off, and working Fridays in the home office.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but I’m proud that I was able to be a bit of a trailblazer at the firm with respect to long-term work–life balance. I hope that I helped expand future opportunities for new mothers, and new fathers, by proving that it was possible to do different things at different stages. I tried my best to experiment and see what proved to be most successful, both at work and at home.
What was the most fulfilling part of your work at Strategy&?
Helping individual clients succeed. I loved seeing the success of my clients and knowing that I was helping them accomplish their goals in some way.
What was the biggest challenge?
To me, there was always a challenge in the work — and that was the most fun part about it.
After 14 years, why did you move on?
Eventually, I wanted to do something new. When I left Booz & Company, I first worked at Grainger, which is headquartered close to my home. My strategic planning role there enabled me to leverage my operations knowledge and consulting skill set while also building new skill sets related to sales and marketing. Then, a few months ago, I accepted an opportunity at Shure, a leading global manufacturer of professional audio equipment.
How’s your new job going?
It’s exciting. Our products are used to capture and reinforce audio for important events around the world, like historic speeches and major music performances. Also, Shure is expanding its business in sound reinforcement installs for corporate, government, and education environments with a growing line of conferencing and discussion systems. There’s a lot of pride in what we’re doing here. For me, personally, it’s great to be learning about a new industry while applying my roots in engineering, consulting, and strategic thinking. I’m looking forward to helping the global leadership team make a real impact with many opportunities ahead.
When and where are you happiest?
Definitely with my husband and our children. Now that the kids are 13 and 15, we spend a lot of time at their sporting events. It’s great watching them do what they love. We also love to travel together, within the U.S. and abroad.
Who do you most admire?
My grandfather, who we lost late last year. Looking back on his life, he had this way of making everybody feel like they were really special the minute they walked into a room. For each of us, he knew what was important in our life and let us know he was proud of us for that particular thing. I’d love to have that ability to make a similar impact on the people around me.
What career and life advice would you offer to recent college graduates?
Be open-minded and know that your path can always change. Don’t be afraid to try different things.
This interview was conducted and condensed by Jen Swetzoff, founder of Closeup, a content strategy and creative studio that believes in celebrating the people behind great brands. She formerly worked as the deputy managing editor at strategy+business magazine.