Parent Career Paths

Whether it's your own parents, friends of your parents, or parents of your friends, parents can be a great resource for career field research and networking opportunities. Simple questions like "What was your first job?" or "How did you decide what to pursue after college?" can elicit interesting stories and valuable advice.

Puget Sound Parents Council Career Development Committee members, profiled below, have volunteered to share information about their professional experiences, and also to speak with Puget Sound students about career development issues.

Andrew Bowdle M.D. P'16: Professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmaceutics
Betsy Campbell Stone '79, P'14: Independent Consultant
Chris Coughlin P'16: Owner/Consultant—Chris Coughlin, LLC
Greg Friedman P'16: Chief Executive Officer—Greycourt & Co., Inc.
Leslie Ann Howard P'15: President and CEO—United Way of Dane County 
Peter Nestingen P'16: Contractor—Nestingen Carpentry, LLC 
Doug Pollack P'07, '09, '13: Chief Marketing Officer—ID Experts
Emmett Raitt P'14: Owner—The Raitt Law Firm
Pamela Reeves, M.D. P'14, '16: Private Practice; Professor—Harvard Medical School
Elizabeth Shreeve P'14: Principal—SWA Group (Landscape Architect Firm) 
Todd Stone P'14: President—Ray Stone Inc. 
Debra Wechter M.D. P'16: Breast Surgical Oncologist—Virginia Mason Med Center

Greg Friedman P'16: Chief Executive Officer—Greycourt & Co., Inc.
Chair, Parent Council Career Development Committee

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

GF: Greycourt is a Portland- and Pittsburgh-based investment advisory firm catering to ultra-high-net-worth families. We work with clients to construct appropriate investment portfolios (asset allocation), to identify "best-in-class" investment managers (manager selection) and to modify strategies to reflect current market conditions (tactical asset allocation).

While we oversee $10 billion in client assets, we are still quite a small firm by headcount comprised of just over 40 professionals. Unlike larger firms at which the function of CEO is strictly managerial, I tend to split my time between actively advising clients, developing investment outlooks/strategies and managing the firm. Specifically, my role here is comprised of three distinct responsibilities:

I service a handful of large client relationships.

I work closely with our head of marketing to generate new business opportunities by meeting with prospective clients as well as with "centers of influence."

I spend a lot of time mentoring, training, and motivating our professional staff.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

GF: My first job out of college was as a commercial casualty insurance underwriter. As is the case with most insurance companies, the job was a highly structured entry-level position that involved a lengthy training program followed by loads of rules and well-defined procedures. In short, it could be pretty boring at times.

Despite the somewhat stifling corporate environment, I learned one very important lesson....

Being a curious fellow, I questioned absolutely everything that was asked of me—seeking to understand why I was doing what I was assigned. At one point in early 1980 we were told to increase the amount of business we booked by reducing our underwriting standards. To me this made little sense as it seemed that we would lose money. I ultimately called the firm's head actuary in Hartford who testily explained to me that while we would indeed suffer losses greater than the premium dollars we collected, it didn't matter since interest rates were so high and we would more than make it up on investment income. When I asked him what happened if interest rates were to fall, he told me that was a silly question as "everyone knew" inflation (and correspondingly high interest rates) were here to stay. Shortly after I left the company to pursue a graduate degree, interest rates plunged and the company wound up losing hundreds of millions on poorly underwritten insurance.

Lesson: Common sense is not so common.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

GF: When seeking to hire entry-level staff, I look for three critical qualities.

First, I look for someone who can think critically. Academic course loads and senior thesis are important indicators of this trait, but what I really look for is a candidate's ability to ask insightful questions on the fly during the interview. Canned questions are a turn off to me. Good questions follow naturally from the line of the interview discussion and show attention, interest, and insight.

Second, I look for evidence of passion. Ideally, a candidate would exhibit a passion for investing. But frankly, most 21-year-olds don't yet have that experience, so instead I look for evidence of passion, drive, and dedication in something: a sport, a philanthropic cause, an activity, etc.

Finally, I look for the ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing. Someone can be the brightest person in the world but if they cannot communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively, then their intelligence does little good.

Interested in learning more about Greg's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with him.

Leslie Ann Howard P'15:
President and CEO, United Way of Dane County

Chair 2011-13, Parent Council Career Development Committee

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

LH: Changing the human condition. Leading and Serving the Board, the Staff and the Community. Developing research-based strategies and mobilization plans to address the racial achievement gap, homelessness among families, community safety and senior independence—and developing the resources to deliver on those plans. Assuring the finances and human resources of the organization are managed appropriately. Being accountable for the use of all resources and delivering results.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

LH: I volunteered since I was 14, but my first paid job was at 16 as a lifeguard at Palmer Lions Pool in my hometown.

On the positive side I learned responsibility...for the lives of the swimmers. I took that very seriously and had to rescue several children during my tenure.

On the down side, the manager was inappropriate and irresponsible. He was fired while I was there for throwing the benches into the pool one night! They say you learn the most about management from your first boss...I guess I learned what not to do. But I also learned that I needed to keep doing my job regardless of what the boss was up to. That has served me well over many years!

Also, growing up on the East Coast during times of racial turmoil in the 60's made a huge impression on me. I feel that the racial achievement gap is the most important issue facing our country. This perspective and value has driven me to where I am today.

CES: What advice do you have for students?

LH: Do internships in something close to what you want to do...paid or unpaid.

Networking...everybody does it. And don't be afraid to use your family and friend relationships to make connections. That is how people get jobs. I know you want to do it on your own and that's great, but it's ok to make connections through people you know. Ask for informational interviews, get more names, and talk to those people; take notes at every meeting, and write handwritten thank you notes to everyone you meet.

Find out what your internal drivers and motivators are so you can get a good job match. The idea of a job might sound good, but how will you feel every morning if you have to speak in front of 500 people, or conversely, work at a computer all day analyzing data? You may be able to be good at either one...but one might make you exhausted and one might energize you. If you end up in a job that doesn't fit with your internal drivers, you will be tired every day, not happy, and probably not advance the way you would like.

Interested in learning more about Leslie Ann's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.

Elizabeth Shreeve P'14:
Principal, SWA Group (Landscape Architect Firm)

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

ES: 1. Master planning and landscape design for campuses, civic sites, and mixed use development, mostly in California.
2. Project management, preparation of written reports, organization of community outreach programs, graphics.
3. Manage the SWA Summer Program and coordinate recruiting for the firm's Sausalito office.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

ES: I loved both natural sciences and art when I was at college. Landscape architecture allowed me to integrate the two fields. Also, I was able to travel and explore garden, architectural and landscape architectural design in Europe.

My first job (besides babysitting and garden work!) was with Sasaki Associates, a design firm near Boston. I learned about the environmental design profession—the skills needed, the types of projects, the work/office environment.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

ES: Draw, sketch, and paint. Travel and sketch what you see.

Get a graduate degree in a design field (urban design, landscape architecture, architecture, planning). Pursue an internship with a design and/or planning firm. Build skills in critical thinking, writing, and especially design (form-giving, technical skills such as CAD, sketching, understanding how things get built).

Interested in learning more about Elizabeth's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.



Debra Wechter M.D. P'16:
Breast Surgical Oncologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?     

DW: I am a surgeon at a multidisciplinary medical center with a residency training program. I take care of surgical patients in the clinic and the operating room, primarily patients with breast disease and breast cancer. I also am involved in training surgical residents. I am Director of the Breast Cancer Team and have administrative responsibilities for program growth and development.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

 DW: There are many experiences from high school onward that led me to where I am today. I was always interested in math and science and was lucky in the 50's, 60's and 70's to be encouraged to pursue my goals. In my junior year of college my first two friends were both premed. I had never thought of medicine as a career, but this path intrigued me. In medical school, my two mentors, both male surgeons, helped me choose to be a surgeon, and helped pave the way for my residency.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?  

DW: Be prepared for years of study, but also years of having a wonderful career where you can find your passion. Work hard and stay focused. Choose medicine (or any other career for that matter) only if you love it since you will likely spend more time at work than you will at home.

Interested in learning more about Debra's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.

Andrew Bowdle M.D. P'16:
Professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmaceutics, UW Med Center

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role? 

AB: 1. Providing cardiac anesthesiology services at the University of Washington Medical Center, and teaching anesthesiology residents and fellows.
2. Research, mostly having to do with patient safety issues and the use of simulation technology for medical teaching.
3. Editing scientific articles for anesthesiology journals and web-based resources.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

AB: My first real job was doing epidemiological research for a National Institutes of Health project that was carried out at Kaiser Permanente hospitals. I still use skills that I learned in that job.

The person who most shaped my career was a pharmacologist at the University of California Davis, whose laboratory I worked in while I was an undergraduate. It was because of that mentor that I went on to a combined MD/PhD degree with a PhD in pharmacology.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

1. Medical training is a long haul. Pace yourself for the distance.
2. Science and technology are changing at a very rapid pace. Prepare well in the basics because you never know what things will look like by the time you are in medical practice.
3. Never stop learning.

Interested in learning more about Andrew's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with him.

Betsy Campbell Stone '79, P'14:
Independent Consultant

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

BCS: 1) I assist nonprofit organizations with development of strategic plans based on an environmental assessment, consideration of measurable outcomes, competitive analysis, and an assessment of their capacity. This work includes working closely with paid leadership as well as facilitation of the governance process (Board of Directors).

2) I work with large enterprises (typically healthcare-related) on strategic marketing and communications issues. Strategic marketing work may include qualitative research, assessment of brand image, and assessment of market opportunity/feasibility. Strategic communications work commonly includes brand strategy, stakeholder communications strategy, reputation management planning, and communications audits.

3) I work with companies to develop website strategies as a precursor to website redesign projects. Work includes assessment of the competition and their websites, identification of best practices, analysis of their business model and most important activities that will boost performance, and creation of RFP for website design.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

BCS: From "interdisciplinary writing" at Puget Sound I rapidly identified an interest in using writing (and visual forms of communication) to influence behavior—which led me to an interest in advertising agencies.

My first professional job was "Traffic Coordinator" for a large advertising agency. "Traffic" was the interface between account management, the creative team, and the production team (typically television or radio production for this agency). I learned project management and how to nudge people along to make sure that projects came in on time.

After my life circumstances required me to move away from Los Angeles and the big ad industry there, I ended up having to consider how to engage in marketing and communications in Sacramento. I became intrigued by the establishment of marketing in healthcare and ended up specializing in it. Eventually I became VP of marketing for one of the largest healthcare systems in the US (Sutter Health) and president of my national professional society (healthcare strategy and marketing).

Then I was recruited by an international PR firm to lead their regional healthcare practice. I worked with national professionals on branding, crisis communications, corporate communications and public affairs.

And finally, one of my clients asked me to join them in a leadership role. At Blue Shield of California I led development of corporate strategy, oversaw research, developed new consumer-facing services and led the organization's important alliances.

After leaving Blue Shield to care for my elderly father, I devoted my energies to building nonprofits' marketing and communications capabilities.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

BCS: If you're interested in strategic marketing or communications, you have no inkling of the job possibilities until you just start. You do not have to have a business degree or have taken marketing to get into the field.

Try to go to work for a good company and/or a good teacher. Since most companies now throw you into an entry level position it's important to work for—or have the opportunity to observe—people who really know what they're doing. The names of these people will turn up as you ask questions in networking meetings about who your contact would want to work for in your shoes.

You're going to have to consider whether you are better off in an agency or inside a corporate organization. You get more experience, faster, inside an agency, but they can be a little slapdash about discipline. Corporate organizations tend to be more methodical and you get to stick around for the results.

Do everything you can to learn more. That includes going to evening professional events (e.g. Social Media Club) or spending the money to go to a professional conference if you're not yet employed.

In the current environment, you are your projects. If you need to add some excitement to your "portfolio," consider volunteer projects (nonprofits always need help) or ask to take on something interesting after hours that isn't part of your normal job.

And when you start to get somewhere, help other people on their way up.

Interested in learning more about Betsy's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.

 

Emmett Raitt P'14: Owner—The Raitt Law Firm
CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

ER: Obeying clients and trying to talk them out of their harebrained ideas.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

ER: I sold women's shoes at CH Baker in High School, and manual labor jobs at ManPower in college. I learned that working in an air conditioned office trying to solve the problems of others is way better than manual labor.

I also learned from trying traffic tickets for the LA City Attorney's Office in Van Nuys, CA, that everyone has a story to tell and they will never be satisfied with the legal process unless they are given the opportunity to tell it to someone in authority.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

ER: Think long and hard about going in to law. You will make good money if you get a job, and right now that's a big "if." Many newly-minted lawyers are extremely unhappy with their lot in law, and with their dashed expectations of $150,000 starting salaries. If you're going to go, you'd better be very, very smart and write very, very well.

Interested in learning more about Emmett's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with him.

 

Doug Pollack P'07, '09, '13: Chief Marketing Officer—ID Experts

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

DP: I am responsible for all product and marketing initiatives at ID Experts. Our company is the leading provider of data privacy breach solutions to the healthcare industry. The marketing team conceives and initiates development of new products and services to serve our clients, as well as developing and promoting the ID Experts brand through the entire spectrum of the marketing mix.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

DP: My first position out of college was as a field service engineer for a manufacturing test equipment company. It was a perfect first job for an electrical engineer, and it helped me to realize that my career goals were outside of working in a development lab and that I was more interested in business and customer-facing activities.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

DP: The pursuit of a career in technology startups today requires a high risk tolerance, and a willingness to engage entrepreneurs who are working on new ideas, providing them with whatever time and skills you can bring to the table to assist them in achieving the mission of their endeavor.

I believe that finding work at a more mature technology company enables a young person to "learn" a lot about the business, and can be a more effective starting point than a startup. Although obviously there are numerous very visible startup CEOs who have proven the opposite can be true as well.

 

Peter Nestingen P'16: Contractor—Nestingen Carpentry, LLC

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

PN: I am responsible for estimating, organizing and completing residential remodeling projects. In those roles I need to contact and interact with homeowners, suppliers, one employee and various subcontractors. I also do actual 'hands on' work to complete project.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

PN: My Dad had me help him with projects around the house when I was very young. He taught me about tools and the basic principles of building.

In the years I attended UCLA, I worked for a construction company in San Diego and enjoyed being outdoors. I also liked the fact that you could see the results of your work at the end of the day!

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

PN: I would advise students to do construction as a summer job to see if you like it! If you do, it is good idea to enroll in a construction related trade program. It helps to start with specific skills in this current economy. There are many excellent trade schools in the area...after you graduate from Puget Sound, of course!

On the academic side, project management or civil engineering are also interesting fields if you like larger construction projects......high rises, bridges etc.

Interested in learning more about Peter's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with him.

 

Pamela Reeves, M.D. P'14, '16: Private Practice; Professor—Harvard Medical School

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

PR: Patient care; communications with other M.D.s treating patients; patient/family/community education and seminars.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

PR: Working for my father who was an OB/GYN in rural New Mexico was very influential, although I did not know it at the time. I did know that he was an excellent physician and was loved by his patients, their families, and his colleague. He also taught at Northwestern University of Medical School in Chicago and was later Chief of the OB/GYN Department at Texas Tech University in El Paso, TX. He loved teaching and so do I.

I loved psychology in college and decided to go to medical school because I wanted complete medical training. When I entered medical school, I had no idea of which specialty I would enter. I did each rotation as if that were going to be my specialty because I knew how important it is to find work in life that you love. After doing all rotations, I was trying to decide between family practice and psychiatry. In the end, I knew that I wanted to be a psychiatrist who can prescribe medicine and do psychotherapy. I also wanted a specialty where I had more control of my time because I knew I wanted a family. I have 4 children between 30 and 18 years old.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

PR: It is not easy to make it through 26 years (or more) of schooling. There will be times when it may seem like quitting is the most reasonable path.

1) If you think you are interested in a medical career, talk with as many physicians as you can to better understand their own experiences and/or try to do some kind of job or internship in the medical profession to see if it really appeals to you.

2) Make sure you have a strong support system in place: friends, family, colleagues, teachers, etc. It is important to make time to nurture those relationships and visa versa.

3) Take care of yourself: eat well, exercise, get enough sleep (as much as possible given your schedule) and play!!! (in a good way...)

Interested in learning more about Pamela's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.

Todd Stone P'14: President—Ray Stone Inc.

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

TS: Commercial Real Estate Investments & Management (Senior Living, Retail, and Multifamily)

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

TS: I worked for an independently-owned mens clothing store in high school and learned to provide great customer service. The owner did well in one location, but then expanded too quickly with two other locations, and lost the business.

I worked for Procter and Gamble just after college where I realized I did not like working for a large company that treated you like a number. I preferred the smaller, independent, entrepreneurial atmosphere, so I left P & G to work for small independent commercial real estate company.

Eventually, I joined our family's commercial real estate investment and management business, realizing I could bring value to the organization after my independent success in another firm. 

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

TS: Start out in leasing if you want to go into commercial real estate investments as this helps you learn the basics of what drives income and valuations. Working with different owners, learning to think like an owner, and learning to trust and believe in your gut instinct takes time...be patient. Work only with clients if you believe at the outset that working together will bring a "win-win" situation.

Interested in learning more about Todd's career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with him.

 

Chris Coughlin P'16: Owner/Consultant—Chris Coughlin, LLC

CES: What are the top duties and responsibilities in your current role?

CC: I own a consulting business, so spend some of my time managing the overall business. This includes payroll, business development, taxes, etc.

My current clients include both grassroots non-profit advocacy organizations and organizations working on health reform. I focus on strategic communications including legislative campaigns, policy initiatives, and stakeholder outreach. I organize and facilitate meetings, do research, write reports and develop messaging and communication tools.

I prefer project-based work with different types of organizations, and sometimes refer to myself as a "utility player" because I can fill a variety of roles in client organizations.

CES: What was an early job or experience that shaped your career development?

CC: My first job out of college was as a receptionist at a high-tech startup company. I worked as the receptionist for about 6 weeks, and then got promoted. My last position with the company was as the Manager of Quality Assurance. I had never expected that I would work at a high tech company, but the experience helped me develop many skills, including project management and human resources. These are skills I still use, more than 30 years later.

CES: What advice do you have for students hoping to break into your career field?

CC: If you want to be a consultant and work on your own, try to gain a wide range of experiences in many different types of organizations, especially in the beginning of your career.

If you want to do communications work, I would recommend trying to get an entry-level position working with an experienced professional.

And if you are interested in political work, volunteer for campaigns.

Interested in learning more about Chris' career path? Puget Sound students, CES can put you in touch with her.

Campus visit: Lloyd Tabb P '14

From Principal Engineer of Netscape to founder of numerous successful technology start-ups, including Mozilla.org (the developer of Firefox), Lloyd Tabb has designed, built, and led a multitude of large-scale projects—many of which have reshaped the way we use technology today.

Career and Employment Services (CES) hosted Lloyd for a day of presentations and conversations. What insight did this tech titan have to offer Puget Sound students?

New to networking? Start where you are!

Ben Bradley '08 shares this advice about parental connections: "Your parents know people. In fact, they probably know people doing work that might interest you. And, I bet your parents would love to help connect you with people they know.

Next time you talk with your parents (or an aunt, friend of the family, whoever), let them know that you’re looking to talk with people working in xx field, and ask them if they have any contacts. You may be surprised by who they know."