Before I began my life in marketing consulting, I spent 25 years working in the same industry – higher education. It was an atmosphere that allowed me to pursue my passion of being a lifelong learner. On any given day, I was writing about a range of faculty and their research and learning as I was promoting their work. From the human circadian rhythm cycle, to camelid health, to the correlation of gut health to mental illness, to using telescopes to see past black holes - when you work in a university setting, your faculty widen your understanding, your education and your awe of the world.
But in practice, I was a highly-honed marketing and communications professional. I thought for many years and into my first year of consulting of that being the box I was meant to maneuver within.
What a blessing that tutelage from faculty was for me, and a blessing that I had no idea positioned me to be curious freelancer. It took me an entire year to believe that the skills I had and the knowledge that I had attained would allow me to branch into other fields of interest. I put a toe in the water recently, pursuing on a whim my interests in aviation, wine and tourism. I also put myself out there as someone who could work with international organizations. I did all with a tiny bit of trepidation. I knew a great deal about the science of wine, the economics of tourism, the mechanics of aviation. But my international experience was limited to, well, Canada and some time in Russia. But I wanted to grow in both my education and my practice so I pursued opportunities outside of higher education. And I now have a broad portfolio that is based in my university clients, but peppered with some of the most fascinating, knowledge-building, career-stretching work I have ever pursued.
I feel a new life and hope emerging as I start to apply what I know I do well to other industries. My portfolio now includes emerging drone technology, wine and tourism, architecture and now a client in Australia. I feel so alive and excited about the work that I do. Taking the leap into believing in myself enough to try for these contracts was a thoughtful and somewhat emotionally ardent process. For others in consulting who want to try something new, here are a few things I learned:
I am loving my new additions to my consulting life and the relationships I am building. But I am keeping an eye on my core mission. I know the in’s and out’s of higher education marketing, and I want to never lose that focus. It is my foundation, and I won’t leave it. But it is a wonderful opportunity to have the freedom to learn and advance your interests and passions. I remain a lifelong learner. Only now, I control the subjects I am immersed in and the people I get to meet and promote. In the spirit of season, consulting is indeed a “wonderful life.”
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