There’s a saying that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. That’s a pretty good description of Rachel Lawrence’s professional life over the past five years. Below, Rachel shares about how some unexpected twists and turns brought her to Gartner, where she is currently serving as a Senior Principal, Advisory in our Human Resources practice.
Rachel’s Career Story
Before joining Gartner in May 2018, I spent more than two decades as a naval officer and contractor in the intelligence community. Along the way I spent nearly five years overseas in Iceland, Kosovo, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Australia and various military deployments. Although I valued the sense of purpose and found the nature of the work in a national security career to be quite rewarding, there were, unfortunately, times that the organizational culture and working environments proved challenging.
In 2015, shortly after reporting what I believed was a toxic work environment, I knew it was time for a new chapter in my professional life. I didn’t want to become one of the numerous professional causalities among women who speak up for themselves in a male-dominated industry, so I started to explore other opportunities.
Despite a desire for change, I was reluctant to make a move until the RIGHT offer came along and I could ensure that I found a company where I would be valued, thrive, and develop. While many places tout the idea that you should “bring your whole self to work,” I found it hard to distinguish between hollow jargon and look-alike branding messages versus genuine core values and actual business practices.
In late-2017, a friend who knew I needed a fresh start introduced me to some of his contacts at Gartner. Gartner has been the new beginning that my career needed and offers a supportive environment of growth and opportunity where I’ve been able to reinvent myself. I can pursue various interests and professional experiences.
The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion
This organization has shown that it is committed to making good on the promise of fostering an inclusive environment for our globally diverse workforce. I’ve been able to connect with fellow veterans and female professionals through Gartner’s employee resource groups (ERGs). The mentor program established by Veterans at Gartner has been a fantastic venue to connect with a broader network of Gartner colleagues for skills sharing and advice. And I’ve even had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about my experience as a female veteran.
Along my journey to Gartner I have come to appreciate how much perspective matters. The way you frame an issue affects the way you respond. For instance, other companies might be put-off by a candidate’s recent experience of workplace discrimination and harassment. Where other organizations may see potential detriments, Gartner sees potential advantages as they seek out diverse perspectives that help foster innovation.
One of the things I love about Gartner is that we dive headfirst into the hard questions facing the industry, and we aren’t afraid to turn “conventional wisdom” upside down. I’m now part of the D&I solutions for some of the leading global organizations in both the public and private sectors. Five years ago, when I needed to find the next chapter in my professional life, I wasn’t deliberately seeking out Gartner. It turned out to be just what I needed.
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