A thirst for new challenges has taken US leadership development facilitator and coach, Amy Centers, across the globe and back several times. We found out how the girl from a small town in Michigan made so many big career moves.
How did you get to where you are now career wise?
Gosh, I could write a novel about that. But I’ll try and keep it brief… 20-odd years ago Oprah Winfrey said there are three kinds of people in the world: people who never go anywhere, people who climb to the first nice view and set up camp, and people who never stop climbing. I’ve always been a climber, searching for different scenery, and that’s driven my career.
I enrolled in college aged 14, and after I graduated bought a one-way bus ticket to Vail, Colorado, where I stayed for the snowboarding season and worked in Human Resources for the resort. From there I’ve moved to Seattle, then San Francisco, then Florence, Italy, back to Seattle, then San Diego, and now Boise, Idaho.
Along the way I’ve been a fitness center locker room attendant, led hiking and biking tours in Tuscany, become a certified coach, moved into HR and had an epiphany halfway up Kilimanjaro that I needed to live somewhere sunny. Hence the move to San Diego, where I worked in leadership development for a higher education company and a medical technology company. Along the way I earned my Master’s degree and am almost finished with my PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership.
But the urge to change struck again. Which is why I’m in Boise.
What does your current job involve?
I’m a Global Leadership Development Senior Specialist at Micron Technology. I help deliver consistent development in multiple languages across three continents and several time zones. Which is right where I want to be in my career.
How has your upbringing helped you professionally?
Not much! My parents had no expectations of me growing up, which on the one hand was fine because I didn’t have to prove anything, but on the other, I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I went to college with no idea how anything worked, what I should be doing, or what career possibilities there were, which meant I started my 20s unprepared and unfocused.
Have you ever had a ‘eureka’ moment that changed your career?
Realising I don’t have to swim upstream – life works much better if I play to my strengths. For instance, I was accepted into a Couple and Family Therapy Master’s program. As part of the application process, I volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the King County Family Law court system, making recommendations to presiding judges in custody battles. I loved the experience, but realised the therapeutic realm wasn’t the right place for me. After that, I was 100% sure leadership development and coaching was my path.
What do you value most about your working life now?
I’m a curious person by nature and my work provides endless opportunities to satisfy that. I also love helping people have lightbulb moments when I am able to help them think about something in a new way. It’s when real change happens.
If you could go back 20 years what advice would you give yourself?
Find a mentor early and learn more about the world and your place in it.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Those lightbulb moments mentioned above. I also led a cohesive, high-functioning team at my previous company and I’m very proud of that. A sign of a good leader is when a team member cries when you leave… and not with joy.
Have you had any career low points and how have you overcome them?
Yes. You can be smart and strong enough for something, but if you’re lacking in self-awareness or not a good culture fit, you will struggle unnecessarily, which happened to me once when I hadn’t done enough research about a role. I won’t make that mistake again.
Who are your career role models and why?
I’ve had lots of incredible bosses and mentors. People who saw things in me I didn’t see in myself at the time. I’ve had a few really awful bosses too – one inspired my interest in leadership development specifically because he was so spiteful and egoistic.
Also Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love, changed my life. It was my introduction to the separateness of self and ego. I wish I’d read it a lot sooner.
If money was no object what would you buy?
A dive shop somewhere in the South Pacific or Tulum. I miss the ocean.
What’s your ultimate goal?
To be on the road! The next season in my life will involve my husband, two backpacks, and a not very detailed plan to travel the world until we decide to settle again.
What would your motto be?
I’ve got a couple but I particularly like this one from Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert:
Be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, your life will remain small – far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be.
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