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Changing career paths, changing horses: why risks pay off

By Kelly Rover, Senior Manager, Accenture Technology, Cincinnati

I majored in engineering in college. I was good at it and didn’t need to study that much to maintain a good GPA. I understood logic problems and process improvements. I was excited to graduate and become a fulltime engineer—until I spent the day at a career fair hosted by my university. I went from booth to booth learning about available engineering jobs. I quickly learned that I was not going to like working full-time as an engineer.

That’s when I realized I would have to make a major change in order to be both happy and successful in my post-college life. I went to an information session to learn about jobs at Accenture, a global professional services company. The company offered everything I was looking for in my dream job—working with people (not machines), helping companies improve their processes, working with both business and technology and continually learning and growing my skillset. There also was a quick path to promotions.

I decided to interview with Accenture, and accepted a job offer more than 12 years ago. I’ve never looked back. I am so glad that I took a leap of faith and changed my career path from engineering to consulting. I might have spent several years trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole if I wasn’t able to see that it was time for me to make a change.

I took several other leaps of faith in my adult life that ended up paying off in big ways. In 2012, I took a short leave of absence to spend time in Lexington, Kentucky, as a full-time working student at an Eventing barn. Eventing is an equestrian event where a horse and rider compete across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

Kelly and her new horse Cullen showing off their ribbons from a competition.

Kelly and Cullen show jumping at a competition.

"Most people feel comfortable with the status quo, but I know from personal experience that sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side."

This apprenticeship allowed me to increase my skills as a rider and a horsewoman. By the end of my four-month sabbatical, I returned to work recharged. I also was more successful in Eventing than ever.

In 2014, after spending six years riding and competing with my horse Owen, I decided to sell him and get a new horse. The first five years of our relationship had been very difficult, but by year six we had figured each other out. We were winning several events in a row at the Novice level and had moved up to Training level. However, I knew that in order to realize my dreams of riding and competing (and winning) at the Training and Preliminary levels, I would have to find a horse that better suited my strengths and weaknesses.

I talked to my coach, Megan Moore, and she agreed. Megan was about to head to Ireland on a horse-shopping trip. She found Cullen and knew that he was a perfect match for me.

I took a leap of faith and bought the horse based on Megan’s recommendation without ever meeting him. Six long weeks later, my new horse arrived in Lexington and our journey began. We spent 2015 competing at the Novice level in Eventing and finished in the ribbons at every show, winning the last show of the year.

Most people feel comfortable with the status quo, but I know from personal experience that sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side. Change can be scary. I have found that by listening to my gut, things can turn out even better than you expected. Whether it is changing jobs, moving to a new city or buying a new horse, the risk has been well worth the reward.