Sarah, an Associate Partner with Clarkston Consulting, shares her career development journey since joining the firm, from early career to Partner.
Throughout four years in college, I was convinced I wanted to work in sports marketing. After an interview with a professional sports team where I was made to feel like I was going to be an intern forever, I sat down and mapped out what was important for me in a career. Armed with a checklist, I set out to the career fair at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wandering through the sea of students and companies, I found it fascinating to watch how different companies interacted with potential new hires and with each other – and then I found Clarkston. There was a genuineness in every interaction that the Clarkston stewards had together.
In today’s world, many people look for a job which will stairstep them to the next company. I was looking for a career, with a company that was going to push me as much as it would let me grow. Having opportunities, challenges and support were core aspects of what I was looking for in a career.
Consulting may not seem like tough place to carve out a career, given so many companies cycle through associates in 2-3 year cycles. But, there was something different about Clarkston. Not knowing how my need for opportunities, challenges and support would change through the years, Clarkston felt like a family. And, at the end of the day, I knew that family would have my back throughout my entire career development, to celebrate in the good times and support me with the challenges I faced.
My Career Development Journey
By design, my early career has gave me a wide variety of opportunities to work in different industries and service offerings. Working with my Partner Advisor, we designed a career plan that allowed me to be an athlete, jumping from one type of project to another. While other stewards chose to have deep subject matter expertise, I hoped for a wide range of experiences until I could hone in on where to focus my career. During this time, I was also able to move from a single contributor to a lead of a small team, eventually growing into managing bigger teams and coaching more people. Being open to any opportunity and learning through every experience allowed me to intentionally and methodically grow my responsibilities within the firm.
Throughout this time, I was also able to narrow my focus to regulated consumer industries, allowing me to grow industry-specific subject matter knowledge while expanding my project management reach.
Career Development Support at Clarkston
My entire career is a compilation of support and learning from other stewards in the firm. The firm is an ecosystem, and even in my current role, takes the support of stewards at different levels in the firm to be successful. Over the years, I worked with my Partner Advisor to carve a career path that was unique and fulfilling to me. While I set the direction, it was our collaboration and her support that helped me execute where I wanted to go.
During each of my project roles, I thought it was important to not solely be defined by the role. It can be easy to let a role define you, but instead I always tried to look for opportunities to grow my role or stretch into other areas to expand my impact. Being able to identify needs on projects ultimately allowed me to lead initiatives earlier and work outside of my comfort zone to develop in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise gained exposure to.
Reflecting on the Past 10 Years
Finding a balance in consulting can be tough but being able to build a family while living life on the road has been something that has been hard, but intentional. Only the most fulfilling careers can make it worth being away from home. I am thankful to have a supportive partner who pushes me to further my career. Within the past 10 years, there have been countless projects, go live celebrations and late nights meeting project deadlines. Looking at my career development as a story, there aren’t single greatest accomplishments, but rather a chapters of stories and experiences. Some of the nights that I am most proud of are late working nights at peak times of stress in the project and watching how everyone rallies around each other for support and working towards a common goal.
Looking Ahead to the Next 10 Years
As I continue to grow and develop in my career, I hope to inspire others through my passion and dedication, act equally as a teacher and a learner, live a balanced life and leave a positive impact on every encounter.