Madonna, Lady Gaga and Me
A few years ago, I got the news. My job, along with others in my area, was being eliminated. I had been on the inside of countless reorganizations in my career, so I knew the code. “It’s not you, it’s the organization”... “The area is being eliminated” ... “It wasn’t my decision”... blah, blah, blah. I knew things were changing—just didn’t realize how fast.
The obvious question is, “What’s next?” The answer, however, isn’t obvious and, it takes time to get it right.
I took the normal route—immediately networking with EVERYONE I knew. Good contacts, interesting conversations, and even some leads resulted. I looked for opportunities online and had a fairly good response rate. But, there were unexpected hurdles in my pursuit this time. My “wisdom and experience” (a euphemism) was recognized but not valued. The market changed. While prospects saw value in what I was offering, they wanted more as well as something different.
One person with whom I met suggested a new twist on how I played up my skill set. It was a good idea and it helped. No longer was I the corporate communications leader. I was a “ghostwriter in disguise” (his suggestion, which he gave me license to use), and it gave me a way to overcome the wisdom and experience hurdles.
Hmm. Isn’t that what Madonna and Lady Gaga (and countless other artists) had done throughout their careers?
They took their music and art form in completely different (and sometimes surprising) directions—exploring new sounds, new moves and new ideas. Madonna’s “material girl” morphed many times over the years. Her 2004 “Reinvention Tour” was a huge success. Lady Gaga’s performance in “A Star is Born” revealed (I hope) her future may be in movies.
So I became the “Ghostwriter in Disguise” and landed a job with a multi-billion dollar corporation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the spot wasn’t quite right. I ignored the warning bells hoping it would improve, but it didn’t. While I was “working,” I was miserable.
Like Madonna and Lady Gaga—do it again!
This time I went back to school for an MBA. I wasn’t quite sure where it would lead. Yet, an MBA would give me a new credential and new knowledge. Moreover, it was something I always wished I had. In the back of my mind, I thought the MBA (combined with that wisdom and experience I spoke of) would qualify me to teach at the college level. After receiving my degree, I became a Marketing and Communications Lecturer in Mercy College’s MBA program—another reinvention realized.
It was a fabulous experience from every angle. As a student, I saw first-hand how Millennials think, work and respond to challenges—important to understand any future work environment. As a professor, students and faculty alike appreciated my past experiences and perspectives.
Life was good.
Just when I was getting my professor groove on, I received an inquiry out of the blue from a friend who had a friend looking for a communications expert at a prestigious New York banking institution. “Did I know of anyone, or would I, be interested,” she asked.
I took a look at the job spec—a communications position supporting the organization’s data and statistics area in the midst of a reorg and an entrepreneurial group in search of broad awareness. It was a big “ask” for someone with the desired experience level (about 6-8 years), and I struggled to identify potential candidates. People in my advertising circle were used to a fast-paced, creative environment and likely sought something more Google-ish.
Then I thought, “What about me?” I was a newly minted MBA and Professor—that helped change the work history conversation. I thrive in corporate environments. I worked in financial services for years and I come from the world of data-driven marketing. It was worth a shot. The MBA/college lecturer/communications expert combo seemed to be the perfect reinvention mix.
I landed the job a year ago this month and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, it is one of the most rewarding work experiences in my career.
Except for career reinvention, I have little in common with Madonna or Lady Gaga but their lesson remains a valuable one—marked foresight, imagination and a desire for action!
Nancy L. Maffucci spent most of her career in public relations and marketing working for some of the world’s best known brands and big agencies. After completing her MBA in Mercy College’s one-year MBA program, she became a Lecturer teaching graduate level courses in marketing and communications. Today, she is part of the communications team at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.