Embracing the Unexpected Path – Careers at IA


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Embracing the Unexpected Path

If you would have told me five years ago that today I’d be working for an HR advisory firm, I wouldn’t have believed you. I may have even thought you were insane; at the very least, I would have been skeptical, perhaps with a hint of side-eye.

An Unlikely Path

For most of my career, the word “consultant” came with a somewhat negative connotation. In my own experience as an in-house HR practitioner, as well as from what I’d heard from colleagues in different industries, consultants had always been overpaid folks who swooped in, told you what you were doing wrong, offered few practical suggestions for how to fix it, and swooped out just as quickly.  Clients were left to pick up the pieces and often not in any better state than when they started. 

Not all consultants were like that, but there was enough anecdotal evidence to make them the punchline of many jokes. Having a bad day? Frustrated with your job? Just quit and become a consultant; it’s easy money, little accountability, and no “real” work!  

I Wasn’t Looking For a Change… Until I Was

For the longest time I wasn’t even in the market for a career change.  After two decades as an HR practitioner, I was generally happy being one.  I had been able to learn and grow, I liked my company, I liked my co-workers, and I found a niche where I excelled and truly enjoyed the work… the sweet spot.  I was content. 

But then, slowly, something started to change. I started to realize that maybe being “content” wasn’t enough.  Maybe I wanted more.  Had I stopped learning and growing?  Was there anywhere more for me to go from where I was? 

As time went on and circumstances changed, it became clearer that following a path to something new was in fact in the cards for me.  But what now?  What was “next?”  I began the intense and introspective process of assessing what “next” might look like. 

And then IA showed up on my radar.

The Right Place

I knew that in whatever was next, working with great people would be of the utmost importance.  It was a primary factor that had kept me where I was, and I knew I’d want to replicate that.  Project work gave me joy and satisfaction in my previous roles, so that would need to be part of it too; I always loved working towards a milestone or goal and having an impact that made someone else’s job easier or otherwise helped them in some way.  I also wanted to have more impact across a wider spectrum.

IA has given me all of that.

The team at IA truly cares about each other.  Each team member brings something a little bit different, and each looks out for one another; they are an amazing group of professionals who continually learn from one another.  And in that context, within that team structure, I get the opportunity to work on and manage projects for clients to ultimately make their lives and their companies better, across a wide variety of industries.

Check, check, and check.

Back to That Consultant Thing

But wait, what about that aversion to consultants I had? 

That’s where IA is different.  IA has a point of view, but not a prescription.  We’ve all been business professionals long enough to understand that what works in one scenario might not work in another.  We have an opinion, but with flexibility.  We understand that there are proven approaches, but depending on the client and their specific circumstances, some tweaking is likely necessary.  And yes, our goal is to ultimately leave the client, but certainly not in a state of disarray, wondering which way to turn and asking themselves what exactly we accomplished.  Our goal is to make our clients self-sufficient.  We want to help them get to where they need to be, teach them how to keep moving forward, then let them fly on their own.

This is not your average consulting firm.  This is no average team.  And I couldn’t be more grateful that my path led me to this place, regardless that especially because I never expected it just a few short years ago.

Written by:

  • Jennifer, a senior advisor with IA, is an HR leader with over 20 years of experience in human resources, talent management, and organizational development. Her early career focused on learning & development before moving on to hold roles that included employee relations, talent acquisition, and employee communications as well as talent & organizational development. She’s a strong communicator with extensive experience within the retail industry, and familiarity with working through various business cycles and ownership models.


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