Richmond, VA, USA

©2019 by Danielle Canonico


Always Progressing, Check Back Often!

Do you create everyday?

Why did you return to school to earn STEM degrees?

The subject matter has been of great interest to me, and I really enjoyed studying the material. My engineering and chemistry education was an opportunity to learn the methodologies in investigating and implementing innovation. It was a perfect complement to my MBA and BA degrees. 

There are numerous advantages for anyone who studies STEM, but especially for women. This educational path actively develops valuable capabilities including teamwork, creative problem-solving, ethical decision-making, and critical thinking. These skills are all needed to tackle real world issues.

I have always enjoyed the pursuit of education and it continues to be useful in creating new and interesting career opportunities. The act of learning is worth all the effort, as it is a liberating and gratifying adventure. Maybe I'll shoot for a PhD soon, we will see.

Any advice for career "pivoters" and women just entering the workforce?

Just be determinedly fearless. Yet, do so with a high level of intelligence. Do you homework, save your money, identify a mentor or ally to ping ideas and for objective input, define your goals and create a life that makes you happy. Follow through with ambition, education and being your own best friend. Don't be afraid to do the opposite of what others advise yet be ready to manage the consequences.

Always take care of yourself first because to set high standards and develop big dreams may not be too challenging but, you may find achieving the goals and dreams exhausting. Sometimes pivoting, resting, adapting and compromising will be requisite but remain focused and hungry to persevere. The feeling of reaching your goals and living your dreams is intoxicating and makes all the effort worth it. The sacrifices become heroic stories of joy.

What was it like to experience a lay off right after Thanksgiving? How did you handle searching for a new career? Any recommendations?

Wow, for several reasons it was a HUGE relief and perfect timing. I was ready, set, go to leave this organization. My previous supervisors continually praised me for making exceptional contributions and operating at such a high level of effectiveness. My resume, portfolio and references were updated and active, and I was excitedly interviewing with a few worthy prospects. I was poised to leave, and ready to contribute to another organization that was better aligned with my needs and values.

Yeh, I was already networking, prospecting and interviewing! In short because It was hard to ignore the rah-rah rhetoric of leadership but their meager anthem did not champion trust. The rally cries were being drowned out by the deafening, grumbles and chatter from staff, the  profit margin  “tea leaves", and the nonsensical, often reactive, decisions.. There was quite a bit of turn over, and the company had been laying off staff within my department for about one year. Since I experienced similar situations at other employers, and learned, I knew my time would come soon. Thus, I did not idle or waste time worrying like some of the staff. Instead, I went into proactive mode remaining acutely aware of my professional persona and focusing solely on my future career.

Briefly, upon returning from a long Thanksgiving weekend my position along with a few others were eliminated, and my last day was December 31, 2018. The interim department lead, not my current supervisor, and a relatively unknown member of Human Resources verbally told me about the position elimination and requested that I keep this lay off confidential. Maybe confidentiality is the reason I did not receive the lay off notice in writing. However, I clarified that confidentiality did not apply to any aspect of my career search. I can only assume confidentiality just related to customers and company staff. Good thing because I triggered pre-crafted career search notices to my network at the conclusion of the infamous "restructuring" meeting. 

Although it was suggested I apply (with no guarantee of employment) to an open junior position with the company, I was not interested in a role that was a demotion. I was also not willing to work for a subsidiary with a mission, vision and values that, in reality, contradicted mine. I continually invested in my career, on my personal time, so I could join a team as an asset, so we can create a learning environment and strive for excellence through compassionate client care and innovation, and in a few short weeks, this is exactly what I did.

I would be remiss if I neglect to mention that I have maintained personal financial security. I urge everyone to focus on and to fight for their finances as early in life as possible. Make the small sacrifices in life - one less movie or concert - to have the financial security that ensures you and your family freedom and independence, and career leverage. Having the capability to choose your career and its strategic path will better serve you. There is no being held hostage by an unworthy employer, being ignored by leadership or enduring unhealthy, hostile work environments. Listen to the wisdom of friends, family and associates, as layoffs are becoming commonplace and HR is positioned to protect employers. Focus on education, sound financial decisions and skill development that will provide you with a strategic advantage when shifting from positions that lack challenging responsibilities and career growth. Remember, ambition is not a curse word, and you should always define success in your terms.

Lastly and most importantly, I would not be able to do all I do without the resounding enthusiasm and unbreakable support of my family. No one has my back like my family, and this gives me super powers! They have also inspired me to help others with career development, which brings me considerable satisfaction.

Making time to create and to push oneself beyond comfortable is important, and I do something everyday.. Indulging in photography, writing, traditional origami, painting or learning play an instrument (drums and harmonica) everyday is vital to my happiness. It also helps me develop my imagination and expressiveness, giving time to question and explore different interpretations of life and creativity. If not actually putting pen to paper or dragging a fingertip across a digital pad to draw pixels across a screen, I visit galleries, outdoor murals, museums, beat on my e-drums, enjoy live music, and even trek through parks and old city streets, sit at cafes to people watch, and stroll through book and music stores. 

Music, children's books and bold, wild murals really inspire my vision for my work. I spend considerable time running and traveling, and it is superb time to become introspective and explorative. There are many times the combination of deep thought with travel and exertion inspires the most intense and emotional works, definitely intimate. I am most interested in pushing myself in this creative way. It is an effort, sometimes a struggle, but the pay off is beautiful.