I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Still don’t. I do know that I have certain aptitudes. I like to work with numbers. I like to understand how things work. I like working in that zone of innovation; where it is slightly uncomfortable because it hasn’t been done before. I have a voracious appetite for information. I like the underdog. My client always comes first. I already know that I won’t live long enough to learn all the things I want to learn.
Currently, I work in climate change and other interesting areas. I find it challenging and interesting but my entry into climate change was not predicted nor planned. It happened as a matter of circumstance and walking through unconventional doors. I had a background in engineering and was working for an accounting firm (can we say “oil and water”). The accounting firm had been hired to audit the sustainability performance metrics for an oil and gas company. Turns out, I had a natural knack for understanding what the emissions data and spotting the numbers that didn’t make sense. The unique combination of audit skills and understanding the physical phenomena allowed me to participate in developing and writing standards in this area. Suddenly a career was born out of much midnight perspiration and unconventional inspiration required to accomplish these tasks.
I have experience in multiple industries (forestry, oil and gas, electricity, hospitality, education, electronics, pharmaceuticals); in multiple professional capacities (auditor, programmer, management system analyst, engineer, instructor); and every one of these experiences I find valuable in my work but my career path does appear to be a little schizophrenic.
Fundamentally, my career philosophy and path boils down to a few simple fundamentals:
1. Choose things you like to do – even if it defies convention. In my case, this meant an unconventional career for a woman, working as an engineer for an accounting firm, taking a job that earned 50% less than comparable jobs because of the opportunity, moving into an area that had no course curriculum, etc. Listen to your gut, it’s generally right.
2. Be very good at what you do. Read, do, repeat. It is the combination of knowledge and experience that has been very valuable in my career.
3. Be easy to work with but in a manner that maintains your integrity. I have recused myself from jobs where another party could do the job at a better price, I have recommended jobs to associates that had more appropriate qualifications, I have taken the blame to protect my client, and I share the accolades. There will always be difficult positions, handle them with as much integrity as possible.