Early in my career in finance and strategy, my boss at the time suggested I needed experience leading larger teams. I was working for a regional Bell operating company and exploring a position in one of our dispatch garages when I learned of an opportunity to run our unit’s credit and collections call centers. Because I wanted to work for the vice president who oversaw that role, I took the position for. In the back of my mind, I was concerned about getting off of the finance/strategy track.

Once in the new role, I was hooked! I used my finance and accounting background to improve operations and make an immediate impact on the bottom line, but what I really liked was the “people” side of the role. The front line is where you feel the pulse of the customer. I learned the importance of being accessible to the frontline team—not just hearing what they have to say, but listening to what motivates them, what concerns them about their jobs, and what we can do better as a service provider.

I’m surprised that we often spend a lot of time and money on trying to figure out to improve our customer experience when, in reality, our frontline team is waiting for us to listen to them!

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My father has been my role model. He taught me to push myself and always do my best at whatever I pursue—never to settle. When I called him to let him know I was dropping out of college, he never told me not to or that I couldn’t. He simply started asking me questions that helped me decide not to drop out. I look back at that time—and many others—with great appreciation for his guidance and understanding.

Marci’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Make sure you pursue a career where you enjoy your work. It’s difficult to embrace an office job when you would rather be working outdoors. Do what you want to do; not necessarily what you think others want you to do. Be open to changes in your career. You also will find it important to occasionally reassess your goals to help you stay energized and focused. I started working in finance and strategy positions, but about 10 years out of grad school I took a 2-year assignment with call centers and never returned to a traditional finance and strategy position. The opportunities we encounter when one door closes and another door opens can be very fulfilling and rewarding!