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Life at Deloitte
Just the right chemistry
“I actually got an undergraduate degree in chemistry and out of undergrad was a formulation chemist. Turned out, it wasn't something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and got my MBA at Emory. I was super scared when I left chemistry, but you have to take a step back and think about what you thrive on or are passionate about.” Laura Poindexter, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
A chemist turned human resources consultant is a rarity. But if Laura is any indication, maybe it shouldn’t be. She began her career as a formulation chemist, found it too repetitive, went back to school for her MBA, did a stint at a smaller consulting firm, and ultimately landed at Deloitte in 2012. When asked why Deloitte, she says that reputation was a key factor. “I had interacted with other companies and clients who dealt with Deloitte and they always spoke very favorably about their experiences.”
Deloitte’s size was also a major contributor. As an HR consultant at a smaller firm, she could see that “HR transformations were becoming global in scale. The scope of what I was able to do at a smaller company was pretty limited.” She wanted to work across the entire transformation from operating model design to process implementation. That meant working at a company with the breadth and depth of Deloitte.
The work Laura does today is for Fortune 500 companies, largely across several industries. Projects tend to begin in conjunction with a change in a core HR system. “It becomes a great opportunity to look more broadly at your HR organization. How can we use new technologies and processes to reduce administrative burden? How can HR become less tactical, more strategic, more of a partner with the business?” These are complex projects that touch many aspects of a given business. They also touch people, something Laura never fails to connect. “There is nothing better than a client praising you for the work you do. You see how excited they are for what you delivered. I am going to go on to another project, but if I have been able to position (the client) for success, that is a great experience.”
Laura’s advice to you
“You have to follow your gut and not be scared to explore new areas or make big changes. I was super scared when I left chemistry, but you have to take a step back and think about what you thrive on or are passionate about, and see if the job enables you to do that.”
Laura tells a funny story of presenting to a client and forgetting to turn off her instant messaging on the screen. Up comes a message from her husband, addressed to “Pookie,” his nickname for her. Pookie quickly became Laura’s nickname among the client team, too. The story seems less like a faux pas than a revelation of the bond forged by client and consultant as they work to improve resources that are, above all, human.
Laura loves to run and travel. She includes skiing in Park City and touring wineries among her favorite trips. Her most recent trip was with her husband on safari in Botswana. She says it was his idea, but her best trip to date. “It was really cool.” If Laura weren’t a consultant, she’d be a reviewer of hotels and restaurants with a slant toward business travel, a kind of Rick Steves of the consulting world. “I love the travel aspect of consulting. That would be my dream job.”
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