Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.

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Leap of flexibility

Q: At some point in your life, you probably decided to take a leap of faith and go in a direction -- professionally or personally -- that others did not expect. Like quit Goldman Sachs to be a goat farmer. Or leave a company job for your own venture. Was the move a success? Did the new direction turn out the way you thought it would?

I took a leap of faith when my husband said he wanted me to work less and make more money. This was his request as I managed two toddlers and a high-level job.

I was a vice president of a real estate development firm and had helped to grow the company from 50 to over 1,000 people, complete with infrastructures, mergers, and expansion into new locations.

Unfortunately, during an economic downturn, I spent a grueling year downsizing the company. The job was very upsetting and I went through bottles of antacid. On the day I discovered that some disgruntled employee had put a "skull and crossbones" poster on my door, I decided to leave. No job. No prospects. The exact opposite of what the experts tell you to do.

I went on many interviews for what seemed to be the exact same job: long hours, overseas travel, high pressure and visibility, and loads of stress. And yes, big money. It was tempting. The American Dream, right?

Because of some connections I had made when getting my doctorate (something that occupied my time as I dated and sought a decent mate among the streets of Washington, D.C.), I was asked to throw my hat in the ring for a professorship at Marymount University.

Being a professor was in my plans, but not for 20 years -- something I planned to do towards the end of my career. But then I paused and developed this vision of myself --esteemed professor and business consultant. I thought I might be able to start a consulting business and leverage one role off the other -- professor and consultant. What did I know about starting my own business? Nothing.

Well, long story short and 20 years later, I'm a full professor, chair of the School of Business, managing partner of a thriving consulting business, and mother of three.

And, by the way, I'm still married to the same man. The making more money was easy. Working less was not possible. But what was possible was having more flexibility in my hours and time. Academia and consulting gave me that flexibility.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  August 2, 2010; 2:37 PM ET  | Category:  Going for it Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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