With her kids scattered around the globe and lots of outside-of-work interests, Stephanie Schmit needed a way to travel the world and build her career simultaneously.
Stephanie worked in HR for small businesses or nonprofits for most of her career. But her work was a means to an end—pursuing her passions, such as spending time with her five children, keeping up with her wide network of like-family friends, serving on the board of a youth camp, and traveling the world.
Out of the office and into the world
Although Stephanie was devoted to her full-time gigs, she was always looking for flexibility. “Even when I was a full-time employee in HR, I always tried not to work on Fridays. I was fortunate to get jobs that would accommodate that,” she says. But in 2015 and 2016, Stephanie took two leaves of absence from her job—one to staff a youth camp and the other to visit her grown daughter who was living in Turkey.
That’s when Stephanie’s full-time job didn’t feel like the right fit anymore. Though her employer was good with it, she began to feel it wasn’t in the best interest for the company for her to be gone for such long stretches of time.
So four years ago, Stephanie made the career switch to consulting and started working at Salo. “I thought, ‘Well, I could do this kind of work because I like new challenges—new software, new processes, new systems, meeting new people, you name it,’” she says. Her love of “the new” made consulting a natural fit.
Consulting became her round-the-world ticket
Consulting also allowed Stephanie the flexibility (and financial viability) to create her own schedule, traveling between projects—or even traveling during projects. “I’ve taken calls in Vancouver and Denmark,” she says. It’s a schedule that works for her and her family—which includes visiting children living in Canada, Cyprus, and Denmark, plus caregiving for her elderly parents and a brother.
Unlike many of her full-time colleagues, her work—consulting—has allowed her the freedom to show up fully present in her life, wherever it takes her, with whoever needs her. “If I want to visit my children, it’s not like taking a long weekend to Denver,” she explains. “I want to see them and travel the world.”
Now she’s an expert, helping small HR teams evolve
Stephanie has become a go-to resource for small HR departments that need support. Her work often involves helping to recruit and orient a new leader. “A new situation is overwhelming for most people, but not for me. When I orient new folks, they often ask me, ‘You do this chaos every few months?’ I do and I actually enjoy it. I find it really fun and meaningful!”
But she sees her role as far more than just advisory. “I come on day one and I’m a workhorse,” she explains. “I can be implementing a plan and doing real work.” Her magic trick for getting it done, starting day one? She’s not afraid to ask questions.
“As a consultant, you can’t be afraid of admitting you don’t know something,” she says. “I immediately want to know: Who else is helping me here? What resource can I use? If they have a hotline no one’s ever called, I will call it! There’s no point wasting time. And it’s fascinating: No matter how long you’ve been in HR, there’s always a situation you’ve never encountered.”
And she accomplished work/life balance on her terms
In the end, Stephanie says she has found the right work/life balance for her own family through consulting. “It’s the perfect career for me to continue to travel and be there for my family—and I don’t have to decide between that or my career,” she says. It turns out Stephanie’s consulting career is kind of like travel: A new adventure around every corner.