NRG Retail and Reliant President Elizabeth Killinger Shares Perspectives on “Career Refresh”
Businesses benefit from allowing employees to navigate through life transitions during their careers, giving their workforce a richer perspective and renewed energy for collaboration — that was the message shared earlier this week at “Career Refresh: Creating a New Season in Your Career,” hosted by the C. T. Bauer College of Business Working Families Initiative.
The lunchtime event, held at the Greater Houston Partnership’s new Partnership Tower in downtown Houston, was part of the college’s Practices That Pay discussion series and included a conversation between Associate Professor Dusya Vera and NRG Retail and Reliant President Elizabeth Killinger, along with remarks from Dean Latha Ramchand.
The first Practices That Pay event, held in 2016, focused on how organizations in a range of industries have responded to a changing workforce’s needs related to leave, childcare and personal and professional development. The second event in the series gave insight on how to create a new season in your career, whether re-entering the workforce after an extended leave (including maternity/paternity leave or caring for an elderly relative) or making a change in industry, role or location.
“With the Practices That Pay series, Bauer College and our Working Families Initiative is here to help organizations empower their employees to bring their best selves to work,” Ramchand said. “It’s about the diversity of experiences we bring, which informs the decisions we make and helps us all to grow.”
In their conversation, Killinger and Vera discussed topics ranging from staying motivated during a transition to defining success, also taking questions from the audience during the working lunch.
Elizabeth Killinger’s Perspectives On…
“Be thoughtful in advance.” Killinger shared her experiences on balancing priorities in a demanding career with an equally demanding role as mother and wife, noting that she relies on planning and scheduling time where it’s important for her. Another tip? Don’t try to do it all on your own. “One step at a time. Measure your progress. Ask for help — learn what others are good at and leverage those skills. Success is a team sport.”
Change can be daunting, especially if you’re leaving behind a “safe” career for one where you find more personal passion. “You can find things that are wonderful. You need to be deliberate in order to find what is best for you. Take action so your life is consistent with your passions.”
Finding Success (Even When It’s Hard to See)
When Killinger took on a leadership role with NRG Retail and Reliant, she wasn’t sure she could do it — it was the confidence of her boss that inspired her to take the career risk. “You don’t have to have a map to succeed. Sometimes the confidence a leader has in you can give you the fuel to succeed.”
She added: “I encourage each of us today, in our different states, to bloom where you are planted. Get the most out of your current situation. We have a great opportunity to do a great job.”
Diversity of Experience and Thought
The “us vs. them” attitude in an organization does no one any favors, Killinger said. Millennials should work alongside baby boomers and other generations in between —“Bringing diverse sets of people together is a good idea. The perspective alone is valuable.”
Organizations benefit from employees who have the opportunity to experience life events, like raising children and volunteering in the community, she said. “Your whole self is absolutely good enough…and can be used as fuel to make you a better leader.”
Embrace the uncertainty that comes naturally with transitioning in your career and personal life, Killinger said. “With any change, there is a transition. Allowing yourself to go through these transitions are healthy. Be diligent and focused on getting involved and find ways to stay productive. Don’t let yourself get into a place where negativity rules.” Instead, she said, evaluate your skills and leverage what’s transferable among most positions, even if they’re in different industries or categories, including a positive attitude, willingness to make a difference, optimism, integrity and problem solving.
For more information about Bauer College’s Working Families Initiative, click here.
By Amanda Sebesta and Jessica Navarro