Career Confidence – Success Stories, Risks, and Bold Leaps

Career Confidence – Success Stories, Risks, and Bold Leaps

Career development is rarely linear. Most often, the greatest success stories come from bold choices, big leaps, and smart decisions.

Just look at John Fogerty and Tina Turner as famous examples. They both “left a good job in the city” and never looked back, becoming icons of rock ‘n’ roll history.

In talking with many of the business leaders that we correspond with at Building Indiana, it’s amazing to hear the incredible stories that brought people into their current roles. We’ve met CEOs that used to be busboys, accomplished financiers that used to work at K-Mart, and all kinds of entrepreneurs that used to be ordinary employees.

We thought it’d be fun to share some of these tales of career confidence and achievement with our readers. So, over the last few weeks, we gathered several unique stories to share!


Standing Up for Yourself
(Construction Industry)

“My greatest career move happened after 17 years+ of trying to thrive in a toxic environment that did not support my growth or ideas, especially as a woman. I had many years of experience in the industry, my team had one of the lowest cost of errors in the entire company, I had expert cross knowledge of every position on my team – yet my ideas for market share growth and company improvements were never taken seriously.

When my ideas would be implemented it was done so with my director taking credit for the idea and claiming it was the men on the team who were the experts. After 17 years with the same company and with a strong loyalty to my clients, it took a lot of courage to finally stand up for myself and leave.

In my new role, I am heard, and my perspective is respected. It has made me realize I should have had courage many years ago to leave and put myself first.

If you know your worth, then don’t let anyone cause you to second guess yourself. Stand up for yourself, go to where you are heard and respected. No workplace is perfect, but it should not be toxic, and it should be an environment that encourages open communication, collaboration, respect, and growth.”


Rock Bottom to CEO
(Nonprofit Industry)

“I was stuck, seemingly unable to move forward in any direction really, but always wanting to feel good. Instead of feeling good through the normal channels, I chose drugs and alcohol. For as long as I can remember, I recall not wanting to be where I was – whether it be jails, bar rooms, homelessness, or trap houses. Somehow, I knew that if I wanted to get out of where I was and fulfill my life’s purpose, I had to get sober. So, I did.

I’ve been clean and sober now since 2004, and I’ve formed a nonprofit where I train formerly incarcerated individuals for construction careers. I advocate in the courts for treatment versus incarceration, and I have been appointed to the Lake County Drug Court Team, NAMI Indiana Public Policy Committee, Northern Indiana Substance Abuse and Mental Health Legislative Committee, and I’m now a Nationally Certified Intervention Professional.

The greatest career move for me was getting clean and sober. It was the best decision of my life.”


Step Back, Jump Forward
(Finance Industry)

“I had been in commercial lending at a bank for 10 years when I switched careers to become the vice president of lending for a certified development company. When I did so I also took a 20% cut in pay.

It was risky moving from an established lending institution to a nonprofit organization, but still the best professional move I’ve ever made. Within five years I was the president of the organization.

I knew going into this new role that I would one day be elevated to the president position. It was worth the risk and pay cut to further my overall career. Advancing professionally isn’t always about a bigger salary or title, it’s about making strategic moves that position you for success.”


Two-Day Workshop to Entrepreneur
(Professional Development Industry)

“When I was transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom and a part-time sales rep, I knew I had to regain some of my corporate confidence back. So, I took a 2-day workshop to brush up on my presentation skills. While there, I discovered I had a lot to offer as a presenter and a coach. My prior training and experience as a public relations specialist and an actor provided me tangible skills to be an effective corporate presentation coach.

Around the same time, I created a business network that provided me with a leadership role and a great business mentoring team. With renewed confidence and support from my peers, I left my sales job and began a successful corporate coaching career with my newly founded company.

Fifteen years later, I continue to coach professionals to develop their presentation performance and improve their leadership communication style. I also started a new program in Lake County, IN to support self-discovery, mindful communication, and vocational direction development for teens in the criminal justice system and the foster system.

Making the move into coaching was the greatest career move for me, as it plays to my strengths and my motivation to help others get unstuck in their lives and their careers.”


Perfect Timing, Twice!
(Construction Industry)

“I was working at a job for an engineering firm at a steel plant when the company I was working for sold its construction division. We were laid off on a Friday, but luckily the following Monday I was quickly picked up by a different industrial contractor that needed a superintendent.

Fast forward a few years, when a received a call one day from a local millwright that was working in an HR role for a different industrial firm. They wanted to talk to me about working for them, so I interviewed, was hired, and wound up advancing from a superintendent to a construction manager. I finished my career there, and just before retirement, that company also sold its construction division.

I was very fortunate that things worked out this way – twice. I really enjoyed my job because I had to show lots of leadership and use my brain to make some tough decisions.”

Click to share!
Category Cover Story, Features