Monday, May 23, 2022

Where He Is Now: Eleven Years Later

Me performing a solo, "Take Me To The World," at a community musical revue in April 2022.

Today is Commencement Day for the Yale School of Management's Class of 2022, making it 11 years since I graduated from their MBA program, and one year since last I posted an annual update.

James and I at the immersive
Van Gogh exhibit in L.A. 
In general, the past 12 months have been fine. When last I wrote, I was about to return to Deloitte, the consulting firm I'd joined out of business school and worked at from 2011-17. A lot has changed since 2017, most notably that the "road warrior" lifestyle has been replaced with primarily virtual work, and the culture seems more embracing of work/life balance. So I'm enjoying both those aspects, especially since I've been working from home (mostly) for the past five years, even before Covid-19, and have personal commitments I prefer to fulfill without pressure to do otherwise. Another adjustment is the role itself. When I left, I was a Manager, which meant I did one project at a time. Now I'm a Senior Manager, one level up, so I juggle multiple engagements and focus more time on POVs, solutions, coaching junior staff, and sales. Also, I used to be in a practice called Organization Transformation (OT), which focuses on change management and organization design, and now I'm in Workforce Transformation (WT), which focuses on talent strategy, although practically speaking my projects have straddled across both. I'm building and leading our "Contingent Workforce Strategies" offering, which is designed to help clients address various challenges they encounter with accessing and managing their non-employee workers. It's a hot topic and a growth area, so there are a lot of demands on my time, but I've enjoyed being back.

Live band Halloween karaoke night
at our tennis club in 2021.
That's me on the far right, dude.
Outside work, life has mostly gotten back to normal as the world moves out of the emergency state of Covid-19. I still play tennis regularly, as my main hobby. Last summer, I captained one of our four Team Tennis teams, each of which was a Hogwarts house. We were Hufflepuff, and we won first place! But during that time, I was suffering from some chronic pain in my neck and shoulder. An orthopedist, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist all thought the root cause was my sleeping position, which I adjusted, and the discomfort eventually went away. Nevertheless, because of that issue, I scaled back my tennis commitments slightly and spent the winter season playing about once a week, half as often as I would have liked. Beyond tennis, my church choir resumed in the fall, in a dwindled-down form, so from then through the spring I went to those rehearsals on Tuesday nights and sang at Masses on Sunday mornings, as I'd done before the pandemic. And this past Spring, I performed in a community musical revue honoring the late Stephen Sondheim. I did "Take Me To The World" from Evening Primrose as a solo and "Tonight" from West Side Story as a duet, on top of a couple group numbers. I've done plenty of karaoke in my day, and have performed in choruses and choirs, but had never sung on a stage in a paid-ticket performance context before. It was scary, but something I'm glad I tackled, and I was well-supported by friends in the audience and got kind feedback.

Me cutting corn off the cob
at our friends' country-themed
anniversary party in Kiawah.
Vacation-wise, James and I didn't go anywhere net-new over the past 12 months, but we were able to take a few trips, including twice apiece to Kiawah, S.C., and Montauk, nearby on Long Island. And even though I'm not traveling for work anything close to the extent I used to, Deloitte did send me to Boston, Las Vegas and Austin. James joined me for the latter two trips, and we attached a jaunt to Los Angeles, his hometown, to the Vegas trip. I also went alone to Florida for unpleasant reasons explained below. Next month, we're off to Riviera Maya in Mexico for a wedding and a short post-wedding getaway to Tulum, and then over 4th of July weekend we're going to England to stay in Lewes, the town where we spent a full month vacationing back in 2014, and will spend a couple days in London.

Stephanie (aka "Stuffs") during our visit
to Wrights Dairy Farm in 2011.
The past year also delivered a couple tough losses for me. In June 2021, my best friend from college, Stephanie, died suddenly at age 41. I wrote about her on this blog a few times, including herehere and here. We had Zoomed just five weeks before she passed away of complications from sarcoidosis, a rare disease that's almost never serious. Her death marked the first time I've lost a close friend my age. She was brilliant, loud, energetic and consistently hilarious. We were inseparably close freshman year at Duke, then lived together (unharmoniously) sophomore year. We reconnected in our 20s, buried the hatchet and got together several times throughout our 30s. I'm very grateful we got to have a second chapter to our relationship. She left behind a husband (her high-school sweetheart) and three school-age daughters. 

My father with newborn me in 1978.
Then in November, my Dad, Richard, died at age 84 due to a mix of factors starting with a spontaneous hemorrhage in his back muscle likely brought on by blood thinners, and ending with a septic infection. He'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year, so in some sense it was a blessing that he didn't have to suffer through years of dementia, as his older sister did 30 years ago. My Dad was a character. He was a bit grumpy and socially ungracious but had many gifts -- he was extensively knowledgeable about U.S. history and politics, an excellent writer, a surprisingly good drawer, and not a bad singer! We had a functional but not particularly emotionally close relationship. My Mom is now living alone for the first time in her life, but is handling everything with aplomb.

In less somber news, my niece just finished her first year of college, my nephews are doing well in high school, and my partner, James, continues to find ever more success as a local real estate agent. And Derby, our beloved dog, just turned 8 and is healthy. So, overall, there's much to be thankful for. 

Even 11 years out, I continue to reflect on my choice to go to business school and whether it was the right decision. I've never believed it wasn't, because at the time my goal was to quickly reposition myself to make more money, and I now make 10 times what I made as a journalist. I do wonder at times whether law school might have been a better fit for my strengths and temperament, as I find the work my lawyer friends do to be very interesting, but given that I delayed going to grad school until I was 30, I think an MBA was a more sensible route. Regardless, staying in journalism doesn't seem like it would have been feasible. Given that newspapers were in a downward spiral just as my career was starting, nearly everyone I worked with back then has long moved on to another career, and the MBA opened more doors to me than would've been available with just a BA in Journalism. So I still think the decision to pursue the MBA was prudent given my situation at the time, and it's all turned out well in that I've had a nice post-MBA career that I've generally enjoyed.  

See you in 2023!

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