PWG – Lifecycle Management Meeting Re-cap

PWG – Lifecycle Management
Main Meeting, September 10

By Leonor Vereda Ortiz  (Member access only)

The topic of our monthly meeting on 10th Sept 2014 was Women Lifecycle Management. We all have — and will — experience changes and cycles in our lives. Some are self-initiated, some are involuntary, some are choices we take, some do not leave us much choice. These components of life overlap and influence each other and are mostly out of our control. So, if cycles happen anyway… do you need or want to manage them? And in front of major changes, can we get prepared and how do we manage ourselves in turbulent times?

Five PWG members shared their life stories with the group. They talked about how changes these women found themselves in forced the need to restart. Each case was different but also similar. My own personal reflections from these experiences are:

• one should embrace the change
• see the positive and the possibilities brought about with the change
• be optimistic
• be very flexible about yourself
• proactively search for opportunities
• mix with other people, network, network, network
• most importantly share with your network!

Beata Augustyniak explained how she confronted the unexpected difficulties in job hunting after a self-initiated move to Basel following her partner: she deliberately changed her professional field and then very proactively and methodically looked for better opportunities in the company. As her job search in her previous field was proving disappointing, she felt she had to consciously orchestrate a career change. Beata took clear-minded decisions (focus on a certain industry only, search for jobs in English), and, once she found a first, less ambitious job, benefitted from being able to research the company from an internal position. There she narrowed her focus to certain departments, studied their needs, networked, and proactively approached key decision makers, who eventually offered her a contract.

• She summarizes: “I got my first job in Pharma through networking and focusing on the needs of my potential boss”.
• If she had to do it again, she would “Be more proactive about the change in my life, and more direct and transparent with my network”.

Monika Baaj set us an example of how also emotional circumstances can cause major turning points in our professions. Monika’s very difficult personal times brought her to a feeling of dissatisfaction with her profession at the time. She felt a deep inner calling to orient her profession to another direction, but was unable to find academic studies to support her choice. Until through networking (in PWG) she discovered the Swisspeace Academy in Basel and her dream job as Peace Agent was realized!

• Monika urged the audience to “follow you inner calling even if it means high costs; when in doubt ask your mentors for a feedback; trust that the bridge will be there once you have approached the river; look for the silver lining of each and every problem; and ask for “divine” help!”.

Aletta Karsies van Eeden explained how her desire to stay in Basel and the arrival of her children drifted her slowly away from her originally chosen scientific career. Health challenges in the family proved a turning point for her as professional woman, as she became gradually more interested in a holistic approach to health and nutrition. Aletta actually embraced problematic circumstances and in doing so found both a solution and her new profession as Holistic Health Coach.

Sabina Sümegi-Schärli told us how she moved 13 times in her adult life to support her husband’s career but nonetheless managed to pursue her own. She now heads the International School Rheinfelden. Through all these moves Sabina experienced many ebbs and flows (even left her “dream job” once). How did she manage all those changes and still have a career?

• Her own tips: “being extremely flexible and open minded; good sense of humor; lots of love for your husband; highly interested in foreign cultures, learning local languages; networking talent”.
• Her strategies were “volunteering in her professional field (schools); being prepared to work for an extended period in life for no or very little money; learn as much as you can; join organisations”.
• To all those who have moved or will move she recommends “do not worry about what you have lost but look forward, see the move as the chance of a lifetime, and enjoy the new things; keep your mind busy; actively approach the local people; and be patient”.

Tunde Czirok examined her international moves as trailing spouse and her child’s care giver. Her tips are to assess the status quo; look for and grab opportunities; and be proactive and resilient. And join PWG or any organization; try to find new people; integrate; find “value players”, friends; trust your network and share with them. This will enhance your confidence and self-esteem. If Tunde could do things differently now, perhaps she would have shortened the acceptance period.

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