From Strength to Strength: How Diverse Work Backgrounds Make Organizations Better and Stronger

Jul 8, 2020 | Culture

When I graduated with a PhD in English literature, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. Sure, I was an expert in British and American literature from 1860-1918 (you can watch a short video about my dissertation here), but what did that mean outside of the walls of academia? I had a few years of experience teaching at the university and college level, several years of various part-time jobs under my belt, and an ability to synthesize and present complex information – but I wasn’t sure of my next move, until I learned about the opportunity to join the team at MacPhie.

Working at MacPhie felt like the perfect – if unconventional – fit. Here was a chance to apply my skills in a dynamic, team-oriented environment and to figure out how I could best contribute in a business context.

What’s been so great about joining the team at MacPhie has the been the incredible diversity of our work, both in terms of projects and clients. This provides plenty of opportunity to learn and also to collaborate and think creatively to continuously improve, refine, and evolve our offerings. 

This is where I feel I’ve been able to make the most impact and, frankly, why I’ve been promoted relatively quickly: I’ve been able to bring my unusual work background to bear in shaping our work, specifically around high-performing teams. During my short time at MacPhie, this offering has grown to become core to our business and I’m proud to say that my rather unconventional background and skillset has been central to this evolution. When I was teaching 19th-century literature to undergraduates, I never imagined that the same principles of course design, lecture prep, and hands-on adult learning would be so central to a role in the management consulting space. But, these skills have proven invaluable.

So, my lesson to business leaders – and to those seeking to make a change in their own career path – is this: take a chance. Sometimes the road less travelled is the one with the most rewards. I know that some may have thought that MacPhie was taking a chance on me, hiring someone relatively unfamiliar with the space, but the diversity of thought, skills and experience that I brought to the role has been fundamental in shaping our firm’s future, and my own.

By: Elissa Gurman 

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