I recently left my job to pursue a career in the craft beer industry. No job offer, I just left. After 8+ years in marketing, I’m following my passion and making thoughtful decisions about where I want my life to go from here… and do you know what the best part is? I’m not afraid. Not afraid to fail, and perhaps more importantly, not afraid to succeed.
For years (seriously, years!) I thought of changing careers, feeling like I wasn’t reaching my full potential at my current company. Each time I thought of leaving, it just didn’t feel right. I hesitated because I felt like asking for more was asking for too much. After all, I liked my job! I was good at the work I did; I had built friendships with my coworkers; I made a decent salary, had plenty of leeway to make my own decisions about how my role was structured within the company… to many of my friends, I had it made! With so many people facing company layoffs and unemployment, it felt wrong not to just be satisfied with the career I had.
But finally, through a mix of careful preparation and spontaneous bravery, the timing felt right and I made my move. I left on my terms, with nothing but words of thanks and encouragement from my boss and coworkers… it felt great!
In the weeks since, I’ve been pursuing a number of career opportunities in the craft beer industry and my decision to change careers is continually reaffirmed by people around me. However, I find myself unexpectedly struck by how insightful this experience has been for me as a woman.
This morning, I came across part of a story on NPR about Disruptive Leadership, in which they speak with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, about cultivating women leaders. They reference a TED Talk Sandberg gave in 2010, about stagnation for women achieving leadership roles, and a follow-up interview with Pat Mitchell from 2013. As I listen to her speak, light bulbs go off and I find myself nodding… Not because what she’s saying is anything that I haven’t thought about before, but because it hits home, especially now. I am reminded that it’s OK to acknowledge my talents and accomplishments, and own them without feeling guilty, or that I’m being arrogant, too aggressive, etc.
The reason I post this here, on a blog about craft beer, is two fold. First, this blog has always been about my personal beer journey and the decision to work in the industry is a huge part of that. But I also want to connect Sanberg’s point to women in the beer industry, and how, even though progress is being made and we’re seeing more women enjoying and working in beer, we remain an underrepresented demographic. Krystal Baugher helps illustrate the problem in a recent article for theAtlantic.com:
In Colorado, one of the most brewery-rich states in the country with 154 individual facilities, there are only 10 women total who are known to be a part of the main brewing process. The main obstacles that women continue to face in this industry include perceptions of taste, media influence, and preconceived notions about their skill and ability.
So, I’m sitting at the table and raising my hand, and I’m not afraid to be called on, and I’m not sorry. I won’t go on and on, because you need to follow the links above and listen to Sheryl Sandberg speak. Thank you, Sheryl, for saying that the status quo is not enough.