This Seattle Girl on the Rise has a career some would dream of. From working at major corporations to opening up, her own business Lora is helping Girls on the Rise to develop their careers. As Girl on the Rise — figuring out your next career move can be challenging that’s where Plum can help you figure out your next step. This interview is a must-read for anyone thinking about their future career path.
Lauren Elizabeth: Tell us who you are.
Lora Poepping: Like so many of your readers, I am not just what I do professionally. I am a mother of two amazing young women, I am married, politically active, an avid reader, a "connector" (I just wish I could figure out how to monetize it), passionate about making rich desserts, and I love archery. Watch out Geena Davis.
I am also the proud founder and President of Plum Coaching & Consulting, a firm that was started in 2011. Plum provides coaching and consulting related to all things career-related: resumes, LinkedIn profiles, career and job search coaching.
I worked in the corporate arena for >20 years - first for Deloitte and then for Microsoft. I was a totally cheerleader for those companies and I loved my career. My work was mostly in the Human Resources and Recruiting space. Plum was created when friends and so many others asked me for advice about their job search because I know how people are hired.
Plum reverse-engineers hiring in services to our clients!
LE: Today you are the President of Plum Coaching & Consulting in Seattle, a business you created. And you've had an accomplished corporate career at major companies. When did you know that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
LP: Oh my...life is completely different and life's crazy circumstances are the reason for my career pivot. It happened somewhat "organically": I was leaving a recruiting contract position and contemplating what I wanted to do next. I was out for cocktails with my friend Mary Beth (shout out to amazing women like Mary Beth!) and she asked me "Well, what DO you want to do?". I shared that I really enjoyed leveraging what I know about hiring but for the candidate rather than the employer. She followed up with, "Why don't you do that as a business?". I laughed and said that it was more like a favor than a business. But, she planted a seed.
Plum was founded just two months later. I Used $1,200 of my own money, hired a website developer, got a business license, opened a business checking account, and sent an email out to all of my many HR friends. I was not at all sophisticated in my approach because I NEVER envisioned being a female entrepreneur.
LE: Tell us about your breaking glass moment.
LP: When I started Plum, it was just a coaching practice. I did not think of it as a business, let alone a business with growth potential. However, after about a year, I needed to bring a resume writer on board because my own client load was growing so fast that I couldn't take on resume work. Then clients started asking me if I could assist with career coaching. That really wasn't my expertise, so I connected with a former Microsoft colleague (yeah Kelsey) and she took on that work for Plum.
Now Plum has a team of 10 coaches and consultants AND we have an HR consulting arm of the firm too. This is a long-winded answer, but Plum's glass ceiling moment was when I business came in because our reputation was growing - where I almost didn't need to conduct any marketing. Connections, doing great work, referrals from satisfied clients, lots of public speaking, connecting with integrity and authenticity, putting myself out there in the greater community, and having a kick-ass website really make a difference.
LE: What's your daily routine?
LP: I hate it when people say there are never enough hours, but it's kind of true. I could work a zillion hours a day but I want to be more interesting than that so I try and stick to this type of schedule:
6:00 am walk hills with my crazy Wheaten Terrier - listen to NPR or audiobooks, in the office by 8:00 a.m., see clients beginning at 9:30 a.m., yoga every Tuesday and Thursday at noon (my favorite studio is one floor down from my office so I have no excuses), clients and business operations the rest of the day. Some days, I try and sneak out to get in some archery or I have lunch with a friend.
I do my best to get home in time to spend an evening with my husband, Scott. We also love going out to theater, concerts...but we also love Jeopardy. There's nothing better than a dinner in sweats where you're pretending to be a smarty-pants.
LE: What is the best piece of advice you've received?
LP: "Why not?"
I give credit again to Mary Beth on that one because it resulted in Plum.
But I also think women have this amazing way of being OPEN to making mistakes, assessing why that effort didn't work, and then moving on. I do have an ego, but I never dig my heels in just because something is my idea. I love feedback from my amazing team too. I try and surround myself with smart, capable, fun-loving, interesting people. Team Plum is incredible!
LE: What is your favorite quote and why?
LP: Other than "I love you" from my family...
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
I always work hard to make sure our clients, my team and my friends feel better because of their interaction with me. That has been a key ingredient to Plum's success.
LE: What advice would you give to a Girl on the Rise?
LP: When I coach young professional women, they are often at a crossroads. They are seeking a job that fulfills them and they are waiting for this "a-ha" moment where it will become clear what path to take.
Often, shifting careers requires a more subtle approach. The most successful women I know aren't simply powering through this search. They LISTEN more and talk less. They learn about others. They use these discussions to open their minds to other, sometimes more interesting career paths.
I hate to break it to you but job search isn't about you at all. It is about the person sitting across from you and being who they want you to be for the sake of their business or company. If you haven't listened to what THEY want, you'll miss the subtle art of finding great jobs.
LE: What's your favorite thing to do when you're off the clock?
LP: Being with my daughters and my husband over the holidays. I also MUST speak with my sister almost everyday. She's hilarious and my bestie.
Did Lora’s interview leave you wanting more? Then check out Plum’s blog to get more tips on navigating your career. Thank you for showing all Girls on the Rise how they can navigate the job hunting space. If you're thinking about a transition in your career consider contacting Lora’s team at Plum!