One Sunday morning, September 14, 2008, I ran the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. As I was walking home heading for a much needed shower, my cell phone rang and I was summoned to the office for an emergency.
At the time I was the Global Chief Administrative Officer for the Lehman Brothers Global Real Estate Group. While the situation in our group had been difficult for many months (we had already done several rounds of heartbreaking layoffs), no one expected what was about to happen within several hours — the end of the firm as we knew and loved it.
I was 59 years old and a woman in the real estate industry – with not a lot of potential for re-employment at the end of 2008. As a group, many of whom worked for Lehman for many years, we were very sad, disappointed and terrified. With TV cameras and microphones shoved in our faces the following day, we shed our tears, packed our boxes and wondered what the future held for us.
I not only reset my career but I reset my life, my health, and my thoughts. I began wondering what was really important to me and what it was that made me happy.
For the first time in the 11-plus-years that I worked for Lehman, I was home in the morning watching the news and reading the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
I came across an article listing an 11-point initiative that Mayor Bloomberg had put into place to help unemployed Wall Street professionals reinvent themselves. Together with the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Small Business Administration created a three-week Entrepreneurship Boot Camp program called Fast Trac New Venture. It was designed to train people to start new businesses.
With ten months severance, some unemployment insurance and my limited savings giving me time to figure things out, I applied for the Fast Trac Program and was accepted into its first class. Fast Trac gave me the tools I needed to carefully become an entrepreneur.
During my tenure at Lehman, I had managed a robust campus recruiting program hiring 20 young graduates each year. When I thought about what really made me happy over my time at Lehman, I found that it was attracting, developing and retaining young talent.
The support of my classmates and coaches at Fast Trac gave me the courage to form Campus Scout, a strategic advisory firm providing on campus recruiting services for companies that don’t have the resources to recruit on campus.