All of my life, my parents have told me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I know that sounds incredibly simple and basic. But, it is personally tried and true and ultimately a mantra I have subconsciously lived by my entire life. Whenever I doubted myself or was terrified of change, I always heard them in my head (or through the phone) telling me that they had no doubt that I could conquer whatever was in front of me. All I had to do was put my mind to it. And, likely to nobody’s surprise, they were (and continue to be) right. They started building my confidence when I was a little one. The confidence to know that I really can do anything I put my mind to is the core reason for why I have had such an incredible story to tell about my career growth journey.
So, here’s the part of that journey I want to share. I have had nine job titles in five years at one company: BrightWave. You may think that is a bad thing, but it is quite the contrary. It is an awesome thing. You know why? Because every one of the title changes I’ve had was a growth opportunity for me and has helped me hone my career to its optimal path and feed my ‘achiever’ nature in ways I would never have predicted.
When I came to BrightWave five years ago, I was hired as our first Traffic Manager. We were about 25 people large and I was coming onto a newly-created Operations team. Now, we are approaching 100 people and growing rapidly and I’m now Senior Director, Customer Experience.
How did I do that? Well, I worked my tail off, proved I was worth taking a chance on and, most importantly, had the confidence to raise my hand and speak up when new opportunities presented themselves (thanks Mom + Dad), and my managers heard me. When I interview candidates for open positions here and they ask me what my favorite thing is about working for BrightWave, my answer is always that BrightWave provides an incredibly supportive environment for growth and does everything to help employees pursue their career path interests. I am absolutely proof of that.
Here’s what my path looked like over the last five years:
- Hired as Traffic Manager
- Adjusted title to Project & Resource Manager to capture what my job had become
- Promoted to Senior Project & Resource Manager, plus hired my first direct report
- Promoted to Associate Director, Rapid Project Delivery–a new department and delivery model made up of hybrid-skilled resources for me to create and lead, plus I became a member of the leadership team
- Promoted to Director, Rapid Project Delivery
- Added a second title, Director of EiQ when we decided to create the premier email conference and I became the event director (which was no small feat)
- Took a lateral opportunity and became Director, Development & Rapid Project Delivery after being recognized by the VP of Technology as someone he wanted to help lead his team
- Promoted to Senior Director, Development & Rapid Project Delivery
- Role change to Senior Director, Customer Experience to leverage my experience from all of those positions and make a bigger impact on our work
What you can’t tell from that very short version of my story is that I have gotten to do a little bit of every role at our agency–project management, event planning, sales & marketing, traffic management, operations, design, development, QA, strategy, account management, technical campaign management, manager, team lead, mentor. I’ve learned, then learned some more, then continued to learn even more in every role I’ve had.
I’ve experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as a manager and have had to navigate all kinds of challenges. But, I’ve proudly watched my teams step into their own new roles and have made a focused effort to put growth opportunities in front of them, too. I even got to watch one of my first direct reports receive AMA Atlanta’s Rising Star award and give an amazing acceptance speech. It is one of my proudest moments as a manager. (Her growth story is another one worth telling.) And, I found the best mentor who has guided me through everything and helped me grow personally and professionally, and especially as a leader.
It wasn’t always quick nor was it easy to make some of these job changes. It took three months of discussions and convincing to make one of the lateral moves, but I advocated for myself and knew what I wanted. And it ultimately worked out. But, I never would have gotten here without deep down knowing I could do it and having the courage to speak up.
So, my advice to anyone who is looking for it: Always advocate for yourself and your career. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Raise your hand. Be persistent. And more than anything: believe in yourself–then believing in you is a no brainer. And, if growth opportunities are important to you, come work at BrightWave.