Great resignation to C-Suite

Some were burned. Some are not satisfied. Some were disillusioned. Some want their lives back. Some really want to spend more time with their families. All of them, in their own right, decided they’d had enough of the harsh demands that come with being a senior executive, and left.

As great resignation sweeping the American workforce, it’s low-wage workers – especially those in the service industry – that make up the bulk of the revenue. Insufficient wages, poor working conditions, a burnout pandemic and the opportunity to earn extra elsewhere have all played a role in creating a historically turbulent workforce. About 4.5 million people leave their jobs in november, one million more than in any month before the pandemic. The total in December is almost as high.

But the urge to resign is not limited to frontline workers. CEOs, CFOs and other C-level executives are also leaving the job. And while some will inevitably leave a role for a new one, some give it up altogether, at least for a short time.

Many executives who left top jobs have been fortunate enough to quit without having to worry about how their bills will be paid, and they say their decisions aren’t motivated by finance. Instead, they are driven by a mix of the need to take a break, reassess the role work plays in their lives, and the desire to pursue new projects.

Sanjay Poonen is suitable for big jobs. As the CEO of VMware, the major cloud computing company, he is a leading candidate to replace the outgoing CEO.

But in the end, the CEO role went to someone else, and last year Mr. Poonen left the company. “It was a great time for me,” he said. “I’ve never really rested in my life.”

Mr. Poonen now finds himself more time to spend with his family and faith at his home in Los Altos, Calif.

His three children are in middle and high school, and he spends as much time with them as he can. “I love being their driver in the morning and going to all their football and basketball games,” he said.

Mr. Poonen, a practicing Christian, is spending the day listening to Bibles while cycling and finds ways to do more charity – donating to those in need and volunteering his time.

“The pandemic has opened my eyes to a lot of people who are in a more difficult situation than I am,” he said. “I want to make my life a blessing for the people I come into contact with.”

Headhunters called shortly after he left VMware, offering a new job. Although Mr Poonen, 52, has turned them down, he will not rule out taking on another big role in the future. “I’m young enough that I’m going to get back on the treadmill at some point,” he said. “But I won’t do anything for at least six months.”

Rebecca Hellmann, former chief marketing officer of Olive

Number of years working: 2

For 20 years, Rebecca Hellmann has worked her way up her career in the healthcare industry. In 2019, she left her senior marketing position at Cardinal Health, a major pharmaceutical distributor, to become chief marketing officer of Olive, a startup based in Columbus, Ohio, working with hospital. “I think that’s the last leap I’m going to take,” she said.

But as the pandemic drags on, Ms Hellmann finds herself closer to the front lines than expected in the fight against Covid-19. All day long, she would hear stories about overcrowded emergency rooms and the growing death toll.

At the same time, Mrs. Hellmann, a mother of four, is trying to keep her kids on task during distance learning while maintaining her composure during non-stop Zoom meetings. .

“It was stressful,” she said. “I had a moment where I felt like, ‘Is this what it’s supposed to be like this?'”

That simple question was the first crack in the broader questioning of her identity and purpose, and before long Miss Hellmann was determined to make a drastic change. In August 2020, she quit her job.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know this isn’t it,” she said.

Over the past year, Mr. Hellmann has turned to mindfulness meditation, first as a way to find peace, and now, potentially as a new career. She took a week-long meditative kayaking trip in Mexico, completed a year-long mindfulness training course, and has now started her own mindfulness training business.

It remains to be seen whether Ms. Hellmann can support her family in the coaching business. She hasn’t ruled out a return to the world of marketing. But for now, she believes she’s doing what needs to be done, a far cry from the C-suite.

“I’ll go back and do it, or we’ll see where this leads me,” she said. “You only have one life.”

As CEO of Charity: water, Lauren Letta has what she describes as her “dream job”. She worked for the foundation, a prominent New York-based nonprofit, for a decade, helping to scale from a mythical idea to a 100 million-budget philanthropic force. dollars.

But last year, the distinction between Lauren, the human, and Lauren, the Charity’s COO: water, became difficult for Letta herself. She worked long hours, left her young daughter with a nanny most mornings, and traveled often.

“I have no life outside of it,” she said. “I feel like I’m starting to lose who I am. It was a pivotal point in my career when I knew if I didn’t leave now, I never would. ”

So, after seeing the organization weather its first year of the pandemic, Ms. Letta left last March. “I don’t know what’s next,” she wrote in an essay on Medium at that time.

She and her husband, the chief executive officer of venture capital firm Human Ventures, spent six months in the Catskills and have begun to live less stress, enjoy nature and spend more time with their daughter. “It took two months to transform back into who I am,” she said.

After a few months, Ms. Letta, 37, was lured back to work – but not full-time. She currently consults for several companies but does it on her own terms and with less time.

At Charity: water, she worked all day, often spending several hours each night catching up and spending time on weekends. Now, she says she doesn’t work more than 5 hours a day.

“I am more productive with less time,” she says.

Joe Toubes, former chief marketing officer of Honeywell

Number of years working: 18

As chief marketing officer of Honeywell, the industry group, 48-year-old Joe Toubes has risen to the top. He’s earning a high salary, living comfortably in Millburn, NJ, and building a premier brand for one of the world’s largest manufacturers.

But last year, Mr. Toubes came to a strange and somewhat uncomfortable conclusion: “I was starting to be unhappy,” he said.

For years, Mr. Toubes would jump out of bed to get to work and be excited about the job. But while Mr. Toubes had a fulfilling family life, when he got to the office, the thrill was gone.

“That seems like an odd thing in the corporate world, especially as a senior executive,” he said. “I felt guilty about that. It is farting. “

Toubes decided he needed a change, and when Honeywell began moving his operations from New Jersey to Charlotte, NC, he got the opportunity he needed. In September, he left the company.

Toubes recognizes his privilege to be able to start and leave work, and said he plans to return to the workforce one day. “I have the luxury of making such a decision because I have been at the senior level and have been well-rewarded for a number of years,” he said.

And what is he doing with his new-found free time?

“The day I left, I committed to doing something I loved to do, but never had time to do, and that was writing,” he says. “I had a passion for fiction, and I started writing novels.”

In addition to writing, the holiday gives Mr. Toubes valuable time with his teenage sons. And while he says that “the act of writing is a release,” he’s realistic about the commercial outlook for his novel.

“It was terrible,” he said. “I have no illusions that it will be published.”

Dan Gertsacov, former commercial director of Focus Brands

Number of years working: 1

During the pandemic, Dan Gertsacov was the chief marketing officer of Focus Brands, the Atlanta-based restaurant group behind Cinnabon, Jamba and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

“On one day in March 2020, our business was unable to support the team we had,” he said. “I had to give away 40 people in one day. I decided to make all these calls myself.”

Mr. Gertsacov stayed on for almost two years, being promoted to commercial director. He took advantage of his company’s teleworking policies and hit the road, spending time with his family in California and New England last summer.

But by the end of 2021, he was exhausted. He left, with plans to explore some business ideas and spend more time with his family.

Mr. Gertsacov said he will have to keep making money, and that he is doing some consulting work. “I am not a dot-com millionaire where I can no longer work,” said Mr. Gertsacov, who has two teenage children. “We’re saving for college.”

However, if and when he returns to the office full-time, Mr. Gertsacov will no longer be in his old job. Looking ahead to what happens next, Mr. Gertsacov said he is embracing the Japanese concept of “Ikigai”, loosely defined as a person’s reason for being, or sweet position. where you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs all overlap.

Even that, however, will have to wait. Mr. Gertsacov is planning to spend 10 weeks in Spain this summer. “I’m not ready to go back,” he said. Great resignation to C-Suite

Fry Electronics Team

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