Lauren. Early Career Years

posted April 20th, 2009 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Lauren to tell me about her career and to think about the milestones or roadblocks that stood out in her mind when she looked back and what she learned from them.

Lauren worked for five years at a Schedule A bank before she went back to do her MBA and she feels the bank was incredibly good to her. When she returned to school, they paid to move her to the university town where she would study and in her second year, they offered to pay her full salary which she declined. She went back to MBA school because the job that she wanted in the international management development program at the bank required participants to have an MBA and an MBA from specific schools at that. Lauren thought, although she was doing well at the bank, she had a BA in sociology and it wasn’t going to take her anywhere. So she went back to school because she really wanted to join the international program and the bank delivered. She recalls having five competing offers on graduation but she decided to go back to the same Schedule A bank and upon her return, they sent her to London.

And from Lauren’s perspective, going to London was an absolute milestone for her; she found it both exciting and challenging. She had accounts in England but her main territory was Scandinavia, so she spent a week a month in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It was a very big stretch for her, coming out of business school, ending up in London, knocking on doors in Scandinavia to try and get business. And she was successful!! She did the first deal with a major international corporation the bank had ever done with the company. She also did business with a company which became distressed and because of it she worried her whole career was going “to go down the tube” but the company pulled themselves out of trouble and she was saved and she believes that was also a great experience. Lauren describes the entire London experience to be a really big milestone in her career.

Lauren came back to Canada to get married. After her London experience, she found it really hard because it was so different in Canada; the Canadian marketplace was so different. Regardless, when she came back she wanted to move faster in terms of career progression and she didn’t feel she was moving fast enough. She noticed guys that were good guys but not water walkers seemed to be moving faster than she was. And she noticed that the men with whom she had graduated from MBA school were certainly moving faster than she was, despite the fact she was doing a good job and working hard at whatever she was doing.

I asked Lauren whether this was a function of her having been out of the country for three years or because she was female or for some other reason. And she responded that it could have been a combination of factors. In fact, her failure to progress as quickly as she wanted to was one of the reasons she came back to Canada. Although she did come back to get married, she had had a lot of advice about not staying out of the country too long because people forget about you. So in the end, she was only out of the country for three years.

Ultimately, she left the Schedule A bank and went to work at a regulatory agency. She says, she thought: “screw this, I’ve had enough of the glass ceiling.” She believes the move to the agency was a good one for her. It offered her an amazing opportunity because she had to sit in front of the chairman of a bank and tell him about his bank, which was an incredible experience for a former Schedule A banker. In her words: “It was scary, it was fabulous, it was a big stretch… again a big stretch.”

What Strikes Me?

The growth opportunity represented by international experience

The importance of not staying away from head office for too long, away from the action

The options we have when we notice others moving ahead of us

The impact of our choices

What Strikes You?

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