In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to spotlight one of our female leaders at DHG who inspires me every day with her passion, innovative thinking and positive attitude. She has had a unique career path which has shaped her into the resourceful leader she is today. Her experience makes her well-suited for sharing insight with young professionals on how to navigate their own unique paths and figure out how to integrate a career and life outside of work. With that, I’m pleased to hand the baton over to Lori Haley, Managing Partner of DHG’s Birmingham office, for a special CEO Blog takeover. Take it away Lori! – Matt Snow, CEO
Navigating your path
As Matt mentions, my career path has been somewhat unique in that it has had many twists and turns over the years. My husband was in federal law enforcement which meant that I was what I like to call a “trailing spouse,” and my family had to be flexible- we moved 13 times in 31 years! I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to choose a firm where I could grow and build a career; instead I had to pick up the pieces every few years and re-earn my reputation everywhere we went. While challenging at the time, in hindsight, this versatile career path which included both public accounting and private industry really helped shape me into the broad-based professional I am today.
After I had children I was faced with the same internal debate many working moms are faced with- how can I stay in this profession that I love while also being the kind of mom I want to be? For me, I was able to stay in the driver’s seat and balance both my career and my role as mom by monitoring how much push I had on the gas pedal. In navigating my career path there were certainly times when I had to let up on the gas a little bit, and there were times when I chose to take a step back by working a reduced work load. Because of that, I think it’s important to be open minded about what your career progression should look like. It’s all a balancing act, but if you listen to your instincts, and you’re willing to adjust, you will find a momentum that is right for you.
I’ve had many mentors throughout my career who have given me great advice, but even more importantly, I’ve learned that being open to new and unplanned opportunities has been the fuel that propelled me forward. Sometimes things come along that aren’t necessarily in your master plan, or maybe the timing isn’t in your plan, but you need to be bold enough to say here’s an opportunity right in front of me and it’s my choice to make this happen. This may push you outside your comfort zone, but the bottom line is it’s your career and nobody will be as invested in that as you are.
Seizing these new opportunities does take a unique skill-set, not to mention time and energy. When you think about it, so many things we do in raising a family and running a household translate into effective skills in the workplace and help you prepare for new situations- project leadership, time management, organization, coping skills, adaptability and negotiating. All of these skills are overlays that can really help you run with new opportunities and focus on blending the two parts of your life to be as successful as you can be overall.
A diverse and flexible profession
I cannot believe how much the industry has changed since I first started in public accounting. The technology we utilize today has changed things dramatically because now you can work remotely in a way I never dreamed of before. Thirty years ago when your child was sick you still had to get work done, but in order to get the work done you had to be present in the office. I remember my husband and I would look at each other when one of our girls was sick like, “not it, your turn!” Now you can work remotely, while taking care of your sick child, just as easily as if you were sitting at your desk in the office. It’s such a nice luxury to have this level of flexibility.
Millennials are helping to drive this change towards becoming more technologically savvy and encouraging us to look at how we work differently. Our firm and our clients are much more diverse today, and because of that, the whole profession (especially DHG) is more collaborative. Who would have thought we’d have an engagement survey 30 years ago!? Even 10 years ago. At DHG, we want to know what our people think, what we can do to retain them and what we can do better as a firm. Our leadership is much more invested and it’s the perfect opportunity for women and men to stay in the profession for as long as they desire.
Be authentic and true to yourself
Throughout my career there have been times when I’ve been extremely exposed because I’ve been authentic. There are some who say I have to have this type of leadership style and when I come to work I need to be this kind of person because I’m in this role. I encourage you to be true to yourself and use your talents and your vulnerability to your best advantage. Don’t be afraid to let your life flow together in terms of who you are at home and who you are at work.
As you’re navigating your career, don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot and remember to be authentic and confident. Women don’t need to act like men in the workforce. We need women who are true to themselves. My hope for my daughters and all young women in the profession is that they feel like they can make a choice. It may be they choose to stay at home and be a full-time mom, which I think is about as noble a profession as a profession can be, but I also want them to recognize that if they want to work full-time while raising their family that’s ok too. I’ve had what I think is a rich and varied career as a working mom, and I am so thankful to be at DHG where I have the resources and the support to “have it all.”
Lori Haley is the Managing Partner of DHG’s Birmingham office and she serves clients within DHG’s Dealerships practice. Away from the office, Lori loves traveling and spending time with her husband and three daughters.