“Finally, after all those classes, papers and stressful exams, there it was in my hand, a BA in History, Lake Forest College, 1979. “Now what?” I thought. I had no classes scheduled, my dorm room was vacated and all my possessions were in the car. Summer break and next year’s classes were vestiges of the past – I had no plan beyond leaving. Amidst all the congratulations and cheerful faces, inside my head I was nervous about what the future would hold and what I would do to get started. The reality that I was now on my own was here, staring me in the face.
Had someone come up then and offered a lifetime employment contract at $20,000 a year I would have signed it on the spot. If anyone then told me that my career would include being CEO of a financial services company with over $1 billion in revenue, affecting the lives of thousands of employees and earning seven figures followed by becoming a board director in the energy field, I would have laughed. The last math class I took was Algebra 2 in sophomore year of high school and I barely got by that with a D. All that I knew about energy was that it was something you either had in the morning or didn’t.
But this is a true story. From that day with BA in hand, I have made a series of decisions – some small, others large – over 34 years that took me on a path I never would have imagined. What I have learned is that the accumulation of skills, not just knowledge, opened many doors and built strong relationships in my work and personal life. Skills in areas such as job search basics, personal improvement, teamwork, strategy, management and leadership all make a difference.