Elfreda- Success Study

Vice President K-12 Strategy

Client: Elfreda was a distinguished faculty member and national facilitator for a non-profit that researches the world’s best educational systems and shares its findings with America’s education leaders.

Industry: Education, Non-profit, EdTech, Software

Challenge: Elfreda had risen as high as she could go in her organization and wanted new challenges, however, she wanted to be thoughtful and intentional before making her next career move.

Process: Quantifying her accomplishments, using social media to leverage her rich network, and artfully messaging her job search were key to Elfreda’s success.

Landing: Elfreda connected with a former colleague who wanted her expertise in building out his EdTech startup and offered her an exciting executive role with a very attractive compensation package.

Study: Elfreda was a national facilitator at a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that studies the world’s best educational systems and provides coaching for school superintendents, principals, and other U.S. education leaders on educational system designs and best practices. Her tenure at this organization capped a long career in education, education administration, and professional development, but after six years of piloting and driving various leadership development, performance, and system change initiatives, and earning the highest possible honor of “distinguished faculty member,” Elfreda felt that she’d maxed out her professional opportunities there. She wanted greater challenges.

The challenge Elfreda had was that she had always been recruited organically for new career opportunities and had little experience launching a job search. She also wanted to step back and carefully consider the direction of her career.

“I was so busy working that I never spent time getting clarity on what to do next in my career or reflecting on what I brought to a position. There came a point in my sixth year when I felt strongly that there was more that I wanted to do,” said Elfreda.

She also wanted a compensation package that was commensurate with her background and experience.

“I knew I had more value. I’m known in the education space and I’ve not had trouble supplementing my income with consulting work,” said Elfreda. “But I wanted to work with an organization where I would feel like a partner on a team and be excited about the work I was doing.”

A leadership coach, herself, Elfreda was a big advocate of coaching in career development, but she’d never hired one before. She knew the time had come to do so.

“I needed an executive coach to help me be really clear about what I wanted. I am near the end of my career and wanted to be very intentional about my career change,” said Elfreda. “Mentors have helped me throughout my career, but I knew a professional coach would help me develop a formal strategy. Coaches also bring a greater level of accountability, so the likelihood was greater that I would follow through on my strategy. I saw this as an investment in me – a gift to myself.”

Elfreda started with TBG’s Clarity Program, finding it to be a great way to reassess her goals and priorities.

“With my Clarity coach, Stuart Bailey, I realized that I had goals that I wasn’t prioritizing, like spending more time with family and exercising on a regular basis. I learned that salary is not the most important thing in my job search, rather, trust, respect, flexibility in my schedule, and working with open-minded people. Stuart also helped to reinforce some of my positive traits that I wasn’t highlighting,” said Elfreda.

“That first phase of the program was really helpful to me. I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was,” said Elfreda.

Elfreda got even greater benefit from the relationship she built next with her career consultant.

“Julie Mathern really pushed me. She taught me to do stuff on social media that I didn’t know how to do. That was a priority for me. I like systems to track things and she brought them to me. Julie really encouraged me. I felt we had a really good connection,” said Elfreda.

Although she had a great personal network already, Elfreda welcomed Julie’s coaching on how to leverage it and how to communicate to people that she was job hunting. She also felt that the work she did on quantifying her accomplishments added a lot to her resume and interviewing skills.

Elfreda’s job search had barely gotten started when the pandemic went into full swing. At first, she lamented her poor timing, but she came to see a silver lining.

“I was still working at my former job and, because of the pandemic, I wasn’t traveling as much. My work went online, and that shift meant less time in airports and more time at home to focus on my job priorities,” said Elfreda.

Her job search moved more slowly, but Elfreda trusted the process. She credits her consultant with keeping her on target. In the coming months, three or four opportunities arose, proving to her that her new strategies were beginning to work.

“Julie reminded me that I didn’t have to accept the first offer. She encouraged me to stay true to my priorities and wait for the right opportunity to come along,” said Elfreda. “I really valued that relationship. I didn’t want to let her down!”

Her consultant predicted that Elfreda’s network is what would bear fruit – not job postings, and she was right. Nearly a year after beginning her TBG program, Elfreda saw on LinkedIn that a former colleague was building out an EdTech startup. She initiated a conversation and, not long afterwards, the colleague said he needed her as a thought partner and would love to have her on his team. Elfreda’s career consultant coached her through the hiring negotiations, including title, compensation package, and reporting channels. In the end, Elfreda got a job offer that delighted her and she is now thoroughly enjoying her new job helping to build learning tools for virtual education. “I’m contributing a great deal and helping to grow the company,” said Elfreda. “I’m energized by my new job.” Elfreda is grateful to The Barrett Group for helping her navigate this career transition. “Having a consistent coach was really helpful,” said Elfreda. “And it was clear to me that all the people at The Barrett Group really wanted me to succeed.”
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