Ronnie’s profile will be featured in the new version of Paul Tieger’s well-received book, Do What You Are, due out next March. Here’s the excerpt:
Ronnie: From inside Corporate HR to Outside Consultant
“You’d be good in personnel.” That observation, offered by a job interviewer for a large retail department store, started Ronnie on a path which led to a thirty plus year career in corporate Human Resources, and a second career as a coach, consultant, teacher and community volunteer.
Although she was not completely sure what the term “personnel” meant, Ronnie was hired as a management trainee and got her first store placement working in Personnel. The best part was “they treated us like we were part of the management team – Personnel was strategically integrated into the business.” After four years she received a promotion when she moved to another department store to work in HR, where “I wasn’t nearly as isolated as when I worked in my first position. Four years later, and ready for some new challenges, Ronnie was hired as the first HR director at Barnes and Noble, a job that only lasted eighteen months. “Let’ just say we didn’t say eye-to-eye. In truth, I went way too far out on a limb and tried to do too much. For example, I tried to change the payroll system—when in truth, I didn’t know enough about payroll to take on that large a project.”
But Ronnie quickly landed on her feet and washired as the Director of HR at a large and prestigious Wall Street law firm. “These were some of the smartest people in the entire world. And they were driven. They drove you – they drove everybody.” What did she like best? “Anything I saw as a problem, I got to touch and fix.” Ronnie was pregnant with her second child, tiredof a grueling daily commute, and eager to spend more time with her family. Plus, “I realized that I’d done everything I could do here”. As a result of a job search in North Carolina nearer to her family, Ronnie was hired at the innovative and highly respected Center for Creative Leadership.
She loved CCL’s mission but after a time realized she’d fit better in a more business-driven, less process-oriented organization. “How many retreats can you sit through? I went from Wall Street where no one ever hugged me in ten years, to CCL where, myfirst large staff meeting ended with a group hug.” So, after three years, Ronnie moved back into retailing, but not before getting CCL to train her to be a coach.
Her next assignment was as Vice President for HR at Carlyle Jewelry Company. The best part of the job was being part of a management team that dealt with business strategy. At Carlyle, she began to understand that “justfinding the right answer and implementing it and moving on is not a strategy for success – you have to build relationships, too.” And because she had negotiated a four-day workweek, Ronnie was able to continue coaching for CCL. “One of the driving threads through all the changes was that I learned how to use vision to start to set achievable goals.” When the company went bankrupt, Ronnie shepherded it through the liquidation and bankruptcy process while creating a home office, networking and building her consulting practice.
Since 2010, Ronnie has been an executive coach and HR consultant. She also teaches a leadership and career course in the MBA program at the University of North Carolina Additionally, Ronnie is an active volunteer working with organizations that support families and children. “People think of me as the consummate networker – I know everyone in town.” As if that’s not enough, she is the president of the board of “a very funky artists collective.”
She considers consulting with non-profits to be her sweet spot: “I bring in the hard stuff – business strategy and finance – and marry it with organizational development: the softer sciences.” For Ronnie, juggling several balls at once is energizing, and each activity satisfies a different need: “With coaching, I get to hear people’s stories, connect what’s happened in the past, look at all the factors and help them achieve their goals.” And as a volunteer working to help organizations become more effective, she gets to apply all of her business and strategic skills.
Why this works for Ronnie, the Conceptualizer
Conceptualizers like Ronnie need to continue to learn and grow. Never content to rest on past achievements, they continually seek new challenges, which is evident from Ronnie’s career path. They are also gifted problem solvers and strategists – both talents she gets to employ in helping individuals and organizations meet their objectives.
Ronnie is an ENTP, and as a dominant Intuitive type she sees possibilities everywhere, easily makes connections, and thrives on problem-solving.Throughout her entire work history, Ronnie has chosen time and again to take on a variety of endeavors simultaneously- a theme consistent with many Conceptualizers, but especially true of ENTPs. Conceptualizers.
In midlife, people who share Ronnie’s type often gain access to their lesser-developed Feeling side. As she prepares to send her youngest child off to college, she’s surprised at how much it is affecting her: “I honestly never thought it would have that impact.” Further evidence is Ronnie’s more recent desire to create and connect with a community.