02 Mar How a Return-to-Work Mom Beat the Odds and Became a CEO:
CANDIDATE CASE STUDY
The Story of Brooke Fleming:
Brooke Fleming is a Boulo member who truly understands what it means to take a leap. She began her career working in the banking industry, then decided to pause work commitments to be a full-time parent. Brooke wanted to be present for every step in her children’s growth. In her words, “I wanted to be home with my child, and just be there for everything, and I was able to do just that.”
Although she was out of her conventional career path, Brooke was heavily involved in her community. She turned her hobby of quilting into a studio/handmade goods shop that she opened in Historic Woodlawn, co-founded Birmingham Creative Roundtable, a gathering for creatives to share business best practices, and helped facilitate business cohorts with Create Birmingham’s CoStarters program. Nevertheless, she had spent almost ten years devoting herself to pursuits outside her initial career path.
After a decade out of the workforce, Brooke felt like it would be impossible to find a job that matched her skillset and had the flexibility she needed for her personal responsibilities while also providing the professional fulfillment she desired.
“I wanted to find a way to have meaningful work in my life. I was interested in finding a way to contribute to our household income, but I did not want to do it at the expense of my flexibility, and I also wanted to start with something that could grow gradually.”
Brooke had concerns about rejoining the workforce because of how long she was away. She feared employers would wonder why she left work previously, and how they would feel about her decade-long career gap. Brooke explains her transition back to work as “challenging and daunting” because of many workplace changes such as new technology.
After pursuing several options without success, she even debated learning a new skill, and she already had an MBA!
“I was willing to sacrifice doing work that was in my desire zone just to have the flexibility I needed.”
Why did Brooke Choose Boulo?
“I always explain Boulo as being like a dating service, but for working. I like the idea that I had an opportunity to download what I thought my skills were (Boulo has a ‘360 profile’, which takes into account both hard skills and soft skills) and what I was looking for. It just felt good to put that somewhere. It was more than just another search engine (like Indeed).”
Brooke also chose Boulo because she liked the possibility of having job opportunities outside of her network. By choosing Boulo, she had access to companies nationwide, and a wide range of industries!
How did Boulo Respond?
When Brooke started working with Boulo, she loved getting validation that it’s not unreasonable or unusual to take a career break. She also felt that Boulo provided a safe place as she began the process of returning to work.
“Being able to download my skillset (through Boulo’s member onboarding process) and (clarifying) what I was looking for with Boulo, felt validating to me.”
“Throughout the process, I was given good tips and advice on how to proceed through the process, which I appreciated.” She loved the fact that she wasn’t alone, Boulo provided a new network that could be consulted throughout the whole process!
“I think that Boulo was that guide that I needed to take the step back into pursuing something that would work for me, and it was daunting for anyone to do that. It’s good to have a plan and a guide to help you walk through the steps.”
“The interviews I had early on with Boulo members were very helpful. I think probably the most helpful thing was just the leads, the companies that were brought to me. Boulo also paired me with helpful resources along the way that kind of made the process less stressful. I also liked how they followed up with me after my interviews. That was good because I like being able to talk to somebody (about the interview).”
“The result of me working with Boulo was meeting Ed and Matt, who hired me for Digital Motion. Boulo matched me with a company that was the perfect fit for me- they valued flexibility and that was one of my priorities. They were so willing to give me the flexibility I needed and to allow me to gradually acclimate to being back in a more traditional career. I started by working just a few hours a week. Over time I went from running their first real marketing campaigns to getting into sales, to overseeing the growing marketing efforts and explosive sales that started when they pivoted to the virtual space due to the pandemic. Now I am transitioning into a CEO position.”
“I really wanted to start out small, and I didn’t really have any clear vision on where I wanted to end up. I never thought that it would end with me being the CEO of a company. I was just looking for meaningful work and a way to contribute to my household income in a way that would allow me to keep the flexibility I needed as a mom. With Boulo and the team at Digital Motion, I was able to accomplish all those things. It was a perfect fit for me!”