The Courage of Reinvention

In early 2020 as COVID was looming, I left a job as a vice president running a large institution’s marketing and communications department in a sector I knew very well.

It was a position I planned to stay in for a long time. It paid me well, provided a generous benefits safety net, and offered an irresistible challenge for a marketer like me to brand a little-known but vibrant institution.

Three years later, COVID hit, and overnight, marketing was no longer a “must-have” but had reverted back to being a “nice to have.” Its budget was on the chopping block.

The choices were stark and scary. Stay and run a down-graded department with a depleted staff, look for a comparable position as jobs were falling like dominos, or strike out on my own.

I decided to make the leap and launched a consulting practice focused on brand development for women leaders and their businesses.

My experience is not unusual. It’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation” as millions of people are quitting their jobs and declining to go back to the “business as usual” pre-pandemic. As of May, 1.8 million of the five million women who left their jobs in 2020 have yet to return.

In a recent McKinsey report, one out of four women were considering leaving corporate due to burnout. Those women spanned all levels in the organization, but burnout and exhaustion increased with seniority. While this affects both men and women, statistics show that women are leaving at a higher rate than men.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the pandemic has proven that we can make intelligent changes when times demand it and can lead in surprising, innovative ways.

The key to success in the months to come will be the ability to recognize opportunity, take calculated risks, and create short and long-term plans adaptable to a changing and highly competitive landscape.

The last 18 months have been incredibly tough for many people. Job losses, role changes, disconnection from our teams, family, and friends, and a malaise of uncertainty about what will happen next.

It takes real courage to move through fear when uncertainty is all around you.

2020 was the year of the pivot. It continues to demand resilience, compelling many of us to reinvent our lives, careers, and organizations. In this time of upheaval, we are finding new depth and dimension to our lives. We will emerge with a greater understanding of ourselves and what we are capable of achieving.

Above all, our experience continues to ask us to challenge our own status quo, climb higher, and make the leap.