For 15 years, Lucy Reynolds ’94 worked in advertising and brand management at Leo Burnett, Nike, Adidas, and Wieden + Kennedy before making a different decision about her career path. Her goals had changed, and she knew she wasn’t the only one who experienced a shift in what she wanted out of life—both personally and professionally—as her career grew.
So Reynolds founded Olerai Leadership, a leadership training company, and now offers women-only coaching sessions through the Knowlton Career Center for other Denison women who might find themselves thinking about the next steps in their career paths. In small-group sessions called “What’s Next?” Reynolds guides participants through a thought-inquiry process that helps them answer questions like, What’s driving me? What’s important to me?
“As a coach, it isn’t my role to consult with you on your career or life decisions, but rather to create an experience for you to get clear on where your values, skills, attributes, and passions align—to inform you of the right direction forward,” she says.
The sessions provide the structure that allows each person to do some work on her own and then connect back with the group for discussion. And everyone in the group brings something different to the table.
“I had no idea this was something I wanted or needed to do,” says Antoinette Belson ’10. “I know, naively, I wanted Lucy to provide me with the answers. What happened instead was I formulated my own path based on the other group members’ experiences and Lucy’s guidance.”
And this isn’t solely about your career, Reynolds says. “In our coaching circle, we might have a wide variety of participant goals. Maybe you’ve forgotten some of the things that make you really happy. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a mother and to take time away from your professional career yet have the self-limiting belief that you won’t be competitive when you want to return to work. You may be considering starting your own business yet lack the confidence to do so. Or perhaps you want to go after a big promotion but don’t know how to sell yourself to senior management.”
It’s a lot to think through, really, but for Reynolds the concept is simple. “All of this is about choice and making our own decisions about who we want to be.”