Michelle Cartmel’s career spans roles, industries and customer segments. As an integrated marketer for People Magazine in NYC, she saw the publishing industry undergo radical contractions as ad dollars shifted to online, losing revenue dollars and jobs. After relocating
to Seattle for her husband’s job, Michelle needed to shift her industry focus and took marketing roles at Microsoft and Calidora Skin Clinic. Her passion for nutrition and wellness eventually led her to obtain a health coach certification and she worked with private and corporate clients like Convoy and Flywheel on a freelance basis.
With her youngest child heading to Kindergarten, Michelle wanted to return to full-time employment, leveraging her background in marketing, sales and customer relationship management. She landed a role with Simplicity Consulting, a West Coast based company providing on-demand business, technical and marketing talent for companies and managers.
An alumna of The Swing Shift Career Catalyst program, she talks about making career shifts when your industry moves underneath you; what elements of our Career Catalyst program she used as she stepped up her job search; and what skills she’s carried through her career
Q: You’re working as a client success manager for Simplicity Consulting. Can you tell us briefly what you do; and how your past experience contributes to this role?
A: This role leverages so much of what I love about some of my past roles. At Simplicity, we match expert marketing consultants with projects at Microsoft (and many other companies). I partner with both the consultant and the client to ensure that the project runs smoothly and successfully. It’s very beneficial to have marketing experience in this role, as it helps me understand the clients’ needs and typically the urgency around them, especially at Microsoft which moves at the speed of light. My coaching and people skills are also critical to the role, as I often need to coach our consultants on how to approach a challenging situation with a client.
Q: You had been away from traditional corporate work for several years, though you’ve remained employed as a consultant. What was the most challenging part of getting back in? What’s changed the most?
A: The most challenging part of getting back in is feeling that you feel as if your skill set isn’t as robust as those you are competing with for the job. This is intimidating and defeating, especially when you are sitting in front of a computer all day sending resumes to strangers! Once I landed back in corporate, it was like riding a bike! Sure, there were definitely some new technologies/applications that I had to get up to speed on, but it wasn’t that hard and my colleagues were very willing to help. What has changed the most….I think people are far more kind in the workplace than they used to be, thank goodness.
Q: When you entered the Career Catalyst program what were you hoping to accomplish?
A: I enrolled myself in the program because I wanted to sharpen all of the tools in my professional tool box (LinkedIn, Resume, etc) and get clear on my brand, my voice and my intention around returning to a corporate role.
Q: You started in publishing just as it started its rapid decline. What was the hardest part as that industry changed gears? When did you decide it was time to step away and move to something different? For many people these are scary prospects.
A: It was a very scary time, but thankfully, I worked for People Magazine and reader's love the tangible experience of consuming that magazine. Sure, our ad dollars declined a bit, but Time Inc. helped funnel that digital spending by building People.com. That said, I didn’t have the same experience as many of our magazine counterparts; I was thrilled and honored to work for such a thriving brand.
Q: Given your different roles and industries, what is your throughline when you tell your story? What’s the thing that you always seem to come back to at work?
A: Great question and one that your program really made me dive deep into, thankfully. Looking back at the successes of my career and the things that I have loved doing and been most proud of, I realize that my super power has always been building things which create meaningful customer experiences. For example, while at People, I developed, executed and hosted an outdoor fashion show in LA, sponsored by Discover Card that was attended by over 1,000 people. I also built and executed a “Green Fashion Week” here in Seattle around eco-friendly fashion and sustainable practices, which was sponsored by RealNetworks. When I built my nutrition coaching practice, I designed a website and built programs that helped clients get happy…through weight loss, clean eating and the development of healthy habits. In my role with Simplicity, I am building relationships and trust with both my client, Microsoft, and our consultants that ensure the success of our female-founded, female run business.
Q: You came through our Spring 2019 Career Catalyst and followed the program guidelines carefully. When you got your offer, you mentioned to “trust the process; it works.” What were the 3 most potent things you did that resulted in getting this role?
A:I decided to own my brand and my story, but made sure that story had the throughline mentioned above. When I stopped being afraid to own my journey and tell my story (moving, time off with kids, pivoting in careers), I became so much more confident in telling employers about the unique value that I can deliver to their organization.
I fine tuned my LinkedIn (using your guidelines) to ensure that it aligned with my story and my brand.
I networked like crazy and told the universe, I’m ready for this! Once I put that kind of power behind my search, doors started to open.