Making a major career change can be scary — especially when that change involves transitioning into a completely new sector of industry. But Laura Delles, a principal product manager, has found a secret that’s enabled her to shift career paths quite easily.
Delles explains that her employer of 12 years, American Water, has embraced her appetite for change and professional development. Because of that, she’s felt totally supported while transitioning to different areas of the company, moving from administration to human resources and, ultimately, to technology & innovation.
“Over the years, there have been opportunities that have challenged me and offered me great development in my career,” Delles said, adding that it’s thanks to her “wonderful” co-workers she’s had the confidence to pursue those opportunities. “You have to make the leap and trust yourself. You can always go back if it’s not the right fit for you, but give it all you have and you will be surprised with the outcome.”
Recently, Delles shared with Fairygodboss what it’s been like to professionally grow so much at a single company — as well as the most memorable piece of career advice she’s received.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
Previously, I spent 10 years in various roles within Human Resources. In May of 2017, I transitioned into Technology & Innovation as a program coordinator. As of two months ago, I have moved into a new role as a principal product manager.
Pivoting career paths can feel overwhelming. Why did you want to make this change, and what ultimately helped you do it?
I was interested in this new opportunity because it would be a challenge and offer me career development and growth within a different functional area. What ultimately helped me make the move was the opportunity to be a part of a group that would be transforming the technology in this space while providing an innovative way of working to employees and a greater customer experience.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities, and what about it excites you most?
In my current role, I am working on an application that will transform how our Customer Service representatives support our customers. My current priorities are working with my team and collaborating with the business to build something great. This product excites me because in the end, we will have built something that enhances and enriches the Customer Service representatives’ work lives and will provide a greater customer experience for all who call into the Customer Service Center.
What about this company stood out to you and made you want to join? What’s been your favorite aspect since joining?
I joined American Water in 2006 in the Pensacola Customer Service Center. I had some friends who had joined and had nothing but wonderful things to say about the company. From there, I applied and my journey here started.
There are a few favorites since I joined. The first is the growth and opportunities that are available. I started as an administrative assistant and 12 years later, I am a principal product manager. Over the years, there have been opportunities that have challenged me and offered me great development in my career. The second favorite aspect is the people who work at American Water. I have had the opportunity to work with wonderful people and I owe thanks to a few of them, as they have been the ones to encourage me to make the leaps I have from admin to HR to T&I. They truly care about you and your future. I have wonderful co-workers and have made lifelong friends with many of them.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do to start my day is check email and my calendar for the day. This allows me to get prepared for what needs to be taken care of first. I end my day similarly, as I check my email to ensure nothing is pressing prior to leaving for the day and I check my calendar for the next day.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
The best career advice I have received was to stop “glass ceiling” myself and go for whatever I wanted.
What advice would you give to other women interested in making a major career change?
You have to make the leap and trust yourself. You can always go back if it is not the right fit for you, but give it all you have and you will be surprised with the outcome.
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