Have you ever seen that cartoon with the stick figure riding a bike up a tiny incline to the finish line that says “your plan,“ and then below that is another cartoon labeled “reality,” where the stick figure has to go through all sorts of peaks and valleys, over boulders and across water to get to the finish line? I drew that cartoon! Okay, not really, but I could have, because it perfectly sums up my career here at WilsonHCG.
More than 10 years ago I started as a recruiter with WilsonHCG as a fresh college graduate with limited experience. I worked at the same retail store all through high school and college and I considered myself a people person, but knew nothing about the business world. What I wouldn’t give to hear some of the conversations I had with hiring managers during my first year here! I’m sure I would be so embarrassed for young, naïve me. But look at me now! How far I’ve come and what a straight, nicely paved road I took to get up here! Oh, right, no it wasn’t—the peaks, valleys, boulders and water.
Every job has its ups and downs. That’s life in general, and to be expected. But I’m not talking about downs like the bad days where your boss gets a call because three candidates in a row didn't show up to interviews, or ups as in the good days, like the one where you got the MVP award at a company meeting. I’m talking about how your career progression will not be a straight line up to middle management, to executive, to CEO. I can promise you that any great leader never had a career path like that. Your career is going to go up and down and all around, and you may not always be able to make sense of it but it doesn’t mean you’re not moving in the right direction.
I’ve had the opportunity to do some amazing things at this company that I am so proud of. But the order in which they’ve been done wouldn’t necessarily make sense to someone analyzing my career path. I started as a recruiter (this was before we had the sourcer role), and then dabbled in executive search for a while. Then I moved over to our contingent business, WilsonCTS, where I eventually oversaw the operations for several years and managed the entire business and team. During that time, I expressed interest in learning more about recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) since we were really starting to establish ourselves in that industry, so I took a stretch project in an RPO client-facing recruiter role while simultaneously running the contingent business. From there, I had an opportunity to manage a small account as a client relationship manager (CRM), which led to managing another and then another. All of this while still overseeing the operations of WilsonCTS.
About a year ago, WilsonHCG brought on a new client that happens to be a global leader in the tech industry, and a CRM was needed to oversee the account. I was still managing WilsonCTS, had just wrapped up a small RPO project, and jumped at the chance to be a part of this exciting new partnership. As it turned out, it was a really cool opportunity to use my experience in both RPO and contingent staffing, as they needed a blended solution of both services. I got to take the lead, build a strategy and a team to support an account in a new and innovative way. The account grew rapidly —much more quickly than expected. After much success with our initial work, we had the opportunity to support them in other cities, and then other countries.
I had to make a decision because it was not humanly possible to keep managing both pieces of business any longer. Do I officially leave behind the contingent business that I spent years managing, building and supporting so that I could focus on the global growth of this one RPO client? Or pass on this account that I’d poured my blood, sweat and tears into developing in a short period of time to someone else? I was proud of both, and worked hard to build both. The first option may have given me a fancier title and a great opportunity to continue to build our ever-developing contingent business that I know so well, but I knew what I’d built for this client was incredibly special and that I’d learned more in those few months than the sum of my career prior, and I couldn’t walk away from it. I don’t know if I’ll work with this client forever, but I do know that I’m an integral part of new ideas and initiatives that can be used in amazing ways within our organization, and it’s up to me to continue to build that strategy. Also, the international travel that comes with it isn’t a bad perk.
I know our contingent business will continue to thrive. I miss that world, I miss my team, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but they know I’m still here for them whenever they need me, and I still check in a lot. I’m officially in a CRM role now and while it’s not at all where I thought I’d be 10 years into my career at WilsonHCG, especially after managing an entire division of the company prior, I know it’s the right place for me and I continue to learn and grow every day.
So get on your bike and start working your way up that hill. But if you’re planning on making it to the top, don’t forget your helmet!
Stephanie Dougherty has been with WilsonHCG since 2005 and has held various positions in recruiting, account management and leadership within RPO and contingent solutions. Stephanie has a passion for developing talent and helping individuals find ways to leverage their strongest skill sets and grow professionally. Stephanie enjoys strategic initiatives related to developing new and innovative recruiting solutions and tackling unique challenges presented internally and by clients.