Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michelle Linford's Career/Life Story

Today, Michelle Linford shares some of her story below. Michelle will be participating in the "Staying Home, Staying Connected" panel. 

I grew up in a home where both marriage/parenthood and education were highly valued; there was never any question that both would be a priority for me. I entered college ready to tackle both, however and whenever that unfolded. I couldn't have imagined how different my life would end up being from my original plans.  

My original idea to get a degree in computer science eventually morphed into something much less practical. As a junior, I declared a major in Psychology. I had no idea what I was going to do with that major, but I did feel it was a step in a right direction.  

I’d never thought I’d serve a mission (never had the desire to serve, actually). But a few months before my 21st birthday, I found myself considering it. Still, it didn’t “click.” I fasted and prayed to confirm my decision not to go. Long story short is that I had a 180-degree change of heart; a week later my papers were in. I served in South America.

I returned from my mission just in time to start Spring term, where I had planned to start classes for two minors (Spanish and Statistics). My goal was to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology after graduation.  

And then out of the blue, an idea came: get an MBA.

I should note that there were only a handful of majors I had ruled out as an undergraduate. Business was one of them. So this idea came as a bit of a surprise. But things fell into place in miraculous ways. For example, because of an unexpected twist of (then-frustrating) events before my mission, I had just enough credits to be able to graduate in time to enter the MBA program that fall. My emphasis was in Organizational Behavior – a perfect complement to my undergraduate studies. Through graduate school, I felt like I was living a dream I never knew I had. I loved it!

Of course, there were parts of my dream that were still unfulfilled. I sometimes quip that I should have gotten a tuition refund -- twice -- after getting two degrees from BYU without finding a husband. I’d dated quite a bit and had opportunities to marry, but had not felt right about any of them. Add to the fact that I moved to a state where no singles ward even existed, and I worried that maybe I had missed my chance for marriage and family.

But still, my life was rich and full. I loved my work as a business consultant. I poured my heart into my church callings and work in the temple. Anytime I considered moving to a different place where there were more LDS singles, I just had a quiet, peaceful feeling that I was where I needed to be.

Almost two years to the day after starting my career, I met my husband. My mission president's wife (my mother-in-law’s good friend) connected us. Fifteen months after we married, our son was born. We both felt strongly that I should be at home, so I quit my job. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since. Two other children joined within two years (very unexpected!). But health problems have meant we haven’t been able to have more, so we are so grateful our precious ones came when they did.

I’ve been grateful to have the option to stay home. I should note, though, that I didn’t start out as what you would call a ‘natural mother.’ It’s a role I’ve had to grow into over the years, and it’s challenged me in ways nothing else has. But I have known being home has been right for me.

I’ve also come to know that being home doesn’t mean that I have to pack away all that I was before motherhood came into my life. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but just as doors opened and ideas came through my single years, opportunities have come that have helped me keep an active network and current résumé -- even as I essentially haven't worked for pay for over a decade. Once again, I have found myself doing things I could have never dreamed of myself. In spite of challenges (such as continued health problems), I cherish the blessing of being home more than ever, and I appreciate the experiences I'm having that continue my personal and professional development. I'm a volunteer on an alumni board for the Marriott School, student mentor, managing editor of (a missionary-minded website sponsored by the More Good Foundation), and have been a participant in a variety of other projects along the way (such as helping with this conference).

I have come to believe through my experiences "that God can make more out of [our] lives than [we] can," and that He can help us know how to balance all the demands on our lives, time, homes, and hearts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Athelia "CK" LeSueur's Career/Life Story

Athelia "CK" LeSueur (previously noted as CK Woolley - I'm a bit behind the times) will be participating in the "Up & Running: Starting Your Own Business Panel." She shares some of her career story below. (CK is at right in the picture below, with her sister-in-law and husband)

I recently found a ‘what I would be doing when I was 30’ list in a set of old Goals of mine. I wrote it when I was eight.  It read:

1)     I would be married
2)     I would have three children
3)     I would live in Salt Lake City

Of course, at that time, I firmly believed that 30 would never come.  Yet, 30 DID come and at that time:

1)     I was single
2)     I had no children
3)     I lived in New York City

This list of goals I found was one of many that I’ve made in my life. I love goals.  When I was 20, my goals were not too much different from when I was 8. I thought I would be a dancer for a few years, get married and have children.  With this objective in mind, I spent my college summers dancing and my college years eagerly expecting to meet ‘the one’.  Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years came and went and somehow ‘the one’ didn’t show.  Shocked, I followed my plan of becoming a dancer. However, after a year, health problems forced me to change course again.  Still thinking marriage would come early, I enrolled in a Master of Social Work program.  I thought that I would marry while in graduate school and then work part-time.  Working in business never actually occurred to me.  Not only did business matters seem uninteresting, they also seemed intimidating. 

And yet, after my master’s program, my life hit another snag.  Health issues forced me to move home with my parents in Salt Lake City. While there, I realized that social work was not a good fit for me. I like and need lots of change in my work. I also love to organize and build and grow things.  Social work doesn’t do this.  I also LOVE clothing.  In the eighth grade, I put down on a career test that I wanted to be a clothing designer.  Thinking that I would never have a real career, however, I soon abandoned the idea.  But somehow, living with my parents gave me the time and bandwidth to remember my eighth grade dream.  I bought a book called ‘Fashion Design for Beginners’ and literally followed the instructions.

And . . .

I learned that building a company is hard.  Very hard. Yet, I also learned that I thrived from the challenge.  I learned that business isn’t just about making money. It’s about solving problems.  Most importantly, I learned some things about myself.  I no longer had to wait for ‘the one’ to come into my life to change my life.  I liked my life as it was.  I am now married and expecting my first child.  I am excited to embark upon this new challenge but don’t plan to leave my working life behind me.  I am so glad that I learned to love my life and career on my own first. Now I am grateful that marriage and family are wonderful additions to my life!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carla Meine's Career/Life Story

Carla Meine is participating in the Women in Business Conference on the "Up & Running: Starting Your Own Business" panel. Here she shares some of her story. This is the first in a hopefully long series on career/life stories. We hope that by sharing these stories, we can showcase a wide array of life/career choices and provide ideas as each of us pursue our own journeys. If you would like to share your story, please leave on a comment on this post with your name & email address, or email Kristy at kristy.rae.williams (at) gmail (dot) com.

It’s an interesting experience looking back on your life at 53 and thinking, “ Is this how I thought my life would be at 20?” I’m not really sure where I thought I would be but I can definitely say I didn’t think I would take this path to get where I’m at today.

After I graduated from college I got a job managing a restaurant in my hometown in Bellevue, WA. I married my high school sweetheart and shortly after had my first son. Life was a struggle balancing work and home but it was good. In 1981 I took a job with a restaurant chain called Sea Galley and spent 7 years working my way up from Assistant Manager to District Manager. During this time I had two more sons. The winds of change came calling and I took a job as District Manager with Godfathers Pizza. Two years later I was offered a Regional Manager position that put me in charge of over 50 stores in 5 states. This was for Mrs. Fields Cookies. Debbie asked me if I would move to Utah and take over the position of Director of Operations for her new concept. We decided to make the move.

Moving to Utah was a turning point in my career and my relationship. The job was a lot of traveling and made it very difficult to manage my home life. My husband left me and I found myself a single mom with 3 boys ages 3-12. If I thought life was challenging before it was about to get very difficult. Fortunately for me I met David Neeleman on an airplane and he offered me a job as Director of Operations for Morris Air so I was able to stop traveling. It was a great job and gave me the flexibility I needed to work and be a single mom. Then Morris Air sold to Southwest Airlines and so I was left without a job unless I wanted to move to Texas.

I decided against another move and took my stock and sold it to start my own company. That’s how O’Currance Teleservices was started. My concept was to take what I had developed at Morris Air with home agents taking inbound calls and create a whole call center that did that. I started in 1994 and grew it to 600 agents before selling it to a private equity firm in 2007. During this time I met and married my husband David Meine. Together we have 7 children and 9 grand children so life is full.

We also started a family business together called IdealShape. We help people transform their mind and body by using brain training, nutrition and exercise to lose weight and achieve their ideal shape. It’s an internet business that is finally taking off by using social media and Google Ad words. Three of our children work in the business with us and that makes it especially rewarding.

I love my life now. I’m married for eternity to a wonderful man. I have a large and happy family around me. I have business relationships that I have built over many years that have become great friends. I have a thriving business where I love to go to work each day. Would I have liked it to be a different journey? Yes. Would I change where I’m at? No. I love this quote from Marjorie Pay Hinckley "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “ Wow what a ride!" I feel like I could say that already and hopefully I’m a long way from the end.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giving Away One Student Spot to the Conference

We're giving away one free STUDENT spot to the Women in Business Conference!

To be put in the drawing, here's what you can do:
-One entry for leaving a comment on "BYU Management Society Women in Business Network" facebook page (if you aren't yet a member of the page, you can join)
-One entry for sharing the facebook post about this give-away
-One entry for leaving a comment on the facebook post about this give-away
-Three entries for getting someone to sign up for the conference (have them note: 'your name at this email address referred me' in the "special needs" text section at the bottom of the registration form)
-Five entries for finding a corporate sponsor (your summer internship could come in handy here!); email with the name of the company your referred and if they sign up, you'll get the 5 entries

-More ways to get an entry will be shared this weekend, so check back soon!

-Entries close at midnight on Wednesday, September 28th (so only efforts accomplished by that time will count towards entries); Winner announced on Thursday, September 29th (so everyone will still have a chance to register by the early-bird deadline on October 1st)

-Please share this with any students who may be interested in attending (not restricted to BYU students)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Luncheon Speakers: Part 2

Finally! another installment of the women who will be leading the Industry Lunches:

Accounting: Edna Mullen
Edna earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Accounting from BYU. She spent three years working in Big Five (at the time) accounting in both Tax and Audit in Boston and New York City.  After marrying John Mullen, she left the large firms to work for a variety of companies in Boston, Greenwich (Connecticut), and San Francisco as her husband pursued his career and graduate degree . She currently works part-time from home during tax season for a regional accounting firm, and full-time from home as mother of her twin three-year-old daughters.  She and her family recently moved to the San Fransisco area. In her free time she sews, attempts woodworking, is learning to garden, makes nerdy toys for her kids, and tries to accomplish all the fun she can while she is home with her daughters.

Finance & Consulting: Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson, CFA, is the founder and President of Coraticum Asset Management, LLC.  She is also the fund manager, directing and executing all investment strategies.  She has both an undergraduate degree and an MBA from BYU.  From 2001 through 2006 she worked as an equity portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., the investment affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Her commitment to lifelong learning includes the completion of the CFA program (2006) and two sequential language immersion programs at the Spanish Language School of Middlebury College in Vermont (summers of 2006 and 2007).

Art & Design: Leslie Graff
I highlighted Leslie in an earlier post, as she'll be a panelist on the Staying Home, Staying Connected panel. Her art is really fabulous - below is a screenshot of her website, showing a piece from her motherhood series (this picture makes me want to get a creamsicle with my kids ASAP). She is probably fairly typical of many people in the art/design world - without meaning to, she has become a businesswoman. Marketing, sales, finance - all of these (and more) are part of being an artist.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Luncheon Speakers: Part 1

The list of fantastic women participating in the conference just keeps growing! In addition to the keynotes and panelists, we have women from a variety of industries speaking at the Industry Breakout Lunches. In addition to sharing some of their background in the industry, they will facilitate networking among the attendees. Here's a brief intro into who will be speaking:

Anne Wunderli: Non-Profit
Anne is Director, Facilities & Social Enterprise for Pine Street Inn, a Boston, Massachusetts non-profit human services organization that serves 1300 homeless individuals daily with permanent supportive housing, emergency and transitional shelter, food, street outreach, job training, mental health support and substance abuse treatment. She serves on the board of the Social Enterprise Alliance, a national membership organization for social enterprise and is also Board Chair for the Massachusetts Social Enterprise Alliance Chapter. She has spoken about Pine Street Inn’s social enterprises at several Boston area universities, including Brandeis University, Boston University, Babson College, Simmons College and Northeastern University. Anne has a BA in English from the University of Utah.

Pat Bluth: OB/HR
Pat Bluth is currently Director of the HR Operations Division at the LDS Church in Salt Lake City. Prior to joining Church employment in 2008 Pat had a varied career ranging from teaching at BYU to manufacturing diapers and toilet paper in a major consumer goods company to leading organizational development for a high-tech start-up organization. After earning her MS degree in Home Economics Education, Pat started her career as an instructor at BYU—teaching textile production and hand-weaving-- before she left academics to work in what she calls the ‘real world’.  Returning to school at age 37, she completed her MBA, with an emphasis in Operations. Then she landed a job with Procter & Gamble, where she worked for 20 years in line manufacturing and operations assignments making paper products (Bounty, Charmin, Pampers and Luvs)  She benefitted greatly from P&G’s management development approach, which hinged on deliberate 2-3 year assignment changes – including Process Engineering, Human Resources, Maintenance & Quality Systems, Organization Development and Process Improvement.  Her most enjoyable and challenging roles were those related to starting up new organizations, High Performance Work Systems, Non-traditional Skill Development and Process Improvement.

Today Pat is leading a major change effort in the HR Department of the Church – to reorganize how HR products and services are provided via simple, standard, affordable and scalable solutions to the Church workforce around the world. She uses experiences from her past work assignments every day and feels the hand of the Lord in her work on a regular basis.

CK Woolley and Sarah Davis: Entrepreneurship

I wrote about CK & Sarah on an earlier post - they'll be speaking at the panel on starting your own business. CK is co-founder of Shabby Apple and Sarah is founder of Fashionphile.