Nancy Pechloff | Crain's St. Louis

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Nancy Pechloff

Background:  

Protiviti is a global consulting firm that provides clients with consulting services in areas including finance, technology, operations, data and analytics. Nancy Pechloff is a regional managing director based in St. Louis.

The Mistake:

Not taking full advantage of an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and connections.

I've been in service since 1973 when I joined Arthur Andersen at not even 21. In that time, I've been given a lot of incredible opportunities that I've capitalized on and learned a lot from – including leadership roles. Having said that, there are other things I didn’t fully take advantage of, and one really comes to mind.

After I started the St. Louis Small Business Awards shortly after coming here, I captured the attention of some important women in St. Louis and I got asked to join an organization called the Missouri Women's Forum, which is part of the International Women's Forum. But I didn't go to a lot of the events. I didn't really nurture relationships with people that I think could have added just so much richness to my general education about the world – knowledge that you get from talking to people from a wide range of fields that helps give you context and be a better-educated person.

At the time, I didn't recognize the value of what I was missing and I perceived other things to be more important. Of course, one priority was providing outstanding service to clients, and I was also raising a family. And, during these years, I absolutely had things that I was involved in outside work. For instance, I served on the board of Girls Inc. So it's not that I did all work and never had significant involvement and non-work roles. But I had this particular opportunity to access very interesting and important people, and I just didn't.

Work-life balance sounds so cliche, but pursuing other interests also means more of your sense of value doesn't come from work.

The Lesson:

Not everyone is going to be given the opportunity to be a member of the International Women's Forum, but everyone in business gets opportunities to expand their network. And, from my vantage point, it's not necessarily about helping you get ahead in your career, although it's very related because you're a better-educated person. How you come across to people, how you think through issues, your perspective, is entirely different because you’ve capitalized on what I'll call these extracurricular opportunities. So, before you blow off an opportunity when someone has opened the door for you, really try to better evaluate what it is and whether you should make time for it.

As of Jan. 1, I'm transitioning some of my big responsibilities to another managing director and I'm working 80 percent of full time, so my day-to-day role is a little bit less taxing than it has been. I definitely plan to be more involved. I also very strongly advise other people to get involved in the community and to have relationships outside of work. It just serves so many purposes.

I think it's a matter of prioritizing how you're spending your time and what can enrich your life, not just advance your business career. Work-life balance sounds so cliche, but pursuing other interests also means more of your sense of value doesn't come from work. So it really does help you be resilient through highs and lows going on in different parts of your life. And all those things are interrelated. Getting involved in the community definitely helps you personally and professionally.

Protiviti is on Twitter at @Protiviti.

Photo courtesy of Protiviti.

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