Michelle’s Story

michelle-friedman-awcWhen I started my career in corporate banking back in 1990, I loved the feeling of building a career of my own.  I really did buy into the notion of the day: “we can have it all” and at the same time.  I also began to notice that there were very few women (or minorities) at the top.  It seemed that for women to succeed back then, we were expected to conform to a male business model – to be “men in skirts” (remember those shoulder pads and bow ties??). Even in my 20’s, I became interested in the very same systemic issues that we are still discussing today regarding women in the workplace.

I spent the next 12 years in financial services and software marketing, and began the gradual transformation from childless worker to mom of three.  After several wonderful and flexible work arrangements, I had my youngest son and made the hard but satisfying choice to hit the pause button on my career for the next few years. Relinquishing that business card and putting my professional identity on hold was not easy! I know many women who have struggled with this and many others who have grappled with the choice to stay.

My 6 year career break gave me a valuable chance to reconsider what I wanted the next several chapters to look like. For me, that meant returning to the issues I found so compelling in my 20’s.  I envisioned a dream profession that combined my three long-time passions of business, psychology and gender issues. I knew I wanted to create change and bring out the best in both individuals and organizations. And I knew I wanted to help increase diversity in senior leadership roles (still influenced by my first job back in 1990).

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There is nothing better than modeling for your kids how to set a big goal and achieve it! Building on my prior business background, I added to my skills with rigorous training and industry certification in Executive Coaching, and later a Masters in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Today I work to advance women’s careers and affect systemic change on all levels: individual, group/team, organizational and societal.

As I reflect on my own career path over the last 25 years, with its many twists and turns, I realize that I have come full circle and am doing the work I was meant to do. My work truly doesn’t feel like work! I know that I am very fortunate to feel this way about my career choices. I am committed to helping other professionals experience this fulfillment in their own lives, and for organizations to be the kind of environments where people can feel passionate and satisfied with their careers – whatever that may look like.