As a student of the relatively new field of positive organizational scholarship, I’ve been wondering about what I should do and where I should go after graduation. What are my priorities? What work do I want to be doing? What organizational culture do I want to be a part of? Because I’m just starting out on the long journey of my career, I don’t have a lot of answers yet. But lately, I’ve been speaking to a lot of our executive consultants here at Riverbank and getting a sense of how they’ve approached their career transitions into Riverbank.
Recently I spoke with Robin Klein, one of our executive consultants and former Head of HR at Root Inc. She enjoyed a very successful and rewarding career at Root, and as she became more senior in the company, more of her role became devoted to winning business for the company. Eventually, Robin got to a point where she wanted to shift her priorities to be able to spend more time with her daughters who were in high school at the time, instead of traveling at least three nights a week on work: “After 35 years of working, I knew I needed to make a change.”
Robin told me she was excited for the shift into retirement:
“I did not want to work. It was really important to me to get at least a year off. I never wanted to go back to a job that was super demanding or would impact my ability to do what I wanted with my life. I had been retired for like 2 months…”
We both laughed here, knowing that her plan for a year off wasn’t going to work out how she had expected. Rich Berens, the CEO of Root, told Robin that he thought she would be a perfect fit for a short-term project his friend needed help with. After some convincing, Robin agreed to help, and the rest is history:
“Chris and I hit it off. I signed on for the first 3-5 hours a week for 4 weeks, and 18 months later, I’m still there.”
Obviously, Robin and I are at very different stages in our careers. As a rising senior just figuring out the (somewhat scary) prospect of entering the workforce full time for the first time, I don’t have the same latitude to have as much discretion in deciding where I want to work and what I want to do. That said, I’m studying cognitive science on our decision-making track, and I’m a firm believer in positive organizational scholarship. Plus, I’m young. All this combines to mean that I have a certain amount of hope and conviction that I can make decisions that will help me pursue a career and join organizations that will foster my thriving.
My curiosity in talking to Robin, then, was wondering how she decided to work with Riverbank. It seems to me that her situation transitioning out of retirement represents the ideal model of choosing work for the work’s sake — so what drew her to Riverbank? One important aspect for Robin is the people at Riverbank, who she values for their kindness, genuine care, and years of expertise. On top of that, she really enjoys the work she’s able to do at Riverbank:
“I love the client work, but I also love that I don’t have a big number on my head that I have to hit. I don’t have to manage a big team. For me, Riverbank is a way that I can use my expertise, I can work with good people, it’s very low pressure for me… and I really enjoy what we do and what I’m doing. That’s how I got hooked.”
I’m still figuring out what sort of work I want to be doing, but Robin’s emphasis on the people echoes a lot of what I’ve been hearing about the main test for culture fit: if you were at the airport after a long business trip and you found out your flight was delayed by hours and hours, would you want to spend that time sitting next to the people you work with? I don’t know what my future holds, but I know that I would love whiling away a layover with any of our Bankies.
Alicia Haun is a content marketing intern at Riverbank Consulting Group. Alicia is a senior at the University of Michigan, where she also works with the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. Alicia is passionate about the field of positive organizational psychology and looks forward to helping work become a place of flourishing.