Making lemonade from lemons: a critical moment in my career as Decision Management leader.

As you struggle to form your career in today’s world of analytics and Big Data, you may learn a lesson or two from how I handled a critical turning point in my own career as leader of Decisions Management.

The corporate environment provides diverse opportunities − some challenging and exciting, others confusing and disappointing.  Change is the corporate “constant;” how we respond to these changes defines further opportunities.

Restructuring in complex, global organizations often happens as a result of many factors, some within our control and others not so much. A wise colleague once said to me: “in corporations, we rent our jobs.” This perspective makes it easier to accept change, especially when it seems disappointing.

I was confidently leading Decision Management “centrally” for a global financial services firm when a restructuring occurred that “decentralized” the function.

Suddenly, my job went from this:


To this:


My first thought was that I had fewer direct resources and my role was now smaller. My second thought was that this new structure left me on the “outside.”

Others in the organization reacted as if “power” was being shifted and taken away from me and that my role was marginalized. I had a sour taste in my mouth.

Definitely lemons.

As I began to analyze the situation, I realized that this restructuring was actually a testimony to my achievements.  Decision Management – the function that I had introduced and the leadership and talent I had fostered – was a success.

The natural evolution of that success was the embedding of the leadership and teams within businesses.

I had learned from leading Decision Management that my people wanted career growth in the domain of analytics – not everyone wanted to be a business manager. Then I thought further about what this restructuring meant to me. It afforded me the opportunity to broadly leverage Decision Management to create a world-class global organization where analysts would have long-term careers doing the work they love.

Now this opportunity felt challenging and exciting – one where I could write the playbook.

Adding sugar.

In complex organizations, what matters most are efficiency and productivity. I identified the need to redefine our roles and how we interacted with each other – creating a new operating model across all of the Decision Management teams.

This operating model created efficiencies – and promoted leadership.

Then I decided to create a Decision Management community – a borderless network – that our people would want to be part of. The Decision Management community would ensure disciplined management processes, communication and sharing of learnings, and best practices. I chose the word “community” because to me it meant participating by choice – learning from and giving back to your fellow members.

Without fostering this connectedness, how could you create discussions and nurture leaders across the globe? From South America to Australia…to the U.S. and across Europe…I believed it was important that my fellow Decision Management colleagues recognize and interact with each other.

Remember: business as usual in one market is innovation in another market! Armed with the new business model and our global community…

I could taste the sweetness of the lemonade.

Years later, as I now embark on the next phase of my professional journey in analytics – helping companies profit from the value in their own data – I have learned that change is a constant for every firm, big or small. That’s not the insight, though.

The insight comes when you actively seek opportunity in change.  It’s almost always there if you look for it.

Today, I embrace the challenge of change. And everyday I remind myself to make lemonade. (After all, there’s more profit in lemonade than lemons!)

How do you respond to change?

How do you create lemonade when you’re handed lemons?

Do you have a critical turning point in your career that first appeared to be a setback but now seems like a big win?