Challenging Myself While Nurturing My Network: How to Make a Successful Career Pivot

Sponsored by Carrier

Alana McHugh

Photo courtesy of Carrier.

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May 15, 2024 at 6:16PM UTC

When we start our career journeys, it’s hard to envision how far we’ll go — or what career path we’ll end up on. That’s certainly true for Alana McHugh, who began her career journey in a Financial Leadership Program; however, after reflecting on her personal goals, she ended up making a switch. 

“I decided to make the career change to Total Rewards in Human Resources because I wanted to use my analytical skills for a different purpose,” McHugh tells us. “I felt called to challenge myself in a new discipline where I felt I could provide more value.”

Now, as the Senior Manager of Total Rewards at Carrier — the leading global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable and intelligent building and cold chain solutions — McHugh looks back on what made her career pivot successful, and what she’s learned along the way. 

“The piece of advice that I would suggest everyone do is to perform a regular check-in on your personal development plan,” shares McHugh. “This will be your compass for when you want to make a change to your career. From there, reach out to individuals in your network!”

In fact, cultivating a network is at the heart of McHugh’s career growth advice. “I consider a network like a house plant — you need to tend to it for it to flourish,” McHugh concludes.

And, speaking of networking, McHugh reveals to us one of her most important insights was learning to appreciate the value of her own network. “I would have never thought my leadership would support me in this change since it created a gap in our organization,” she says. However, McHugh’s leadership did support her career growth and change, and helped her to facilitate the process by connecting her with human resources. 

“My leadership was extremely receptive to helping me and offered additional networking suggestions,” notes McHugh. “Oftentimes, employees reach out to the hiring manager directly, but, in this case, it made the transition much easier to have my leader support me.”

Today, McHugh is thriving in her role, where she is surrounded by a great network and is able to utilize her finance background and skills from her previous role in a new career path. Here, she shares details about her successful career pivot and her current role, which includes a great deal of autonomy to drive initiatives.

Can you tell us more about why you made your switch?

Part of the reason I made that change was to have more flexibility in my life — and this was possible due to Carrier's flex work philosophy. Carrier has done a great job of acknowledging the need for flexible work arrangements and has put guidelines in place that help me be successful at home or in the office.

Looking back, how have you benefited from the skills and experience you’ve gained in your career pivot?

I have become a more valuable employee to Carrier now because I can bring my finance skills to the human resources department. I also have begun to get a compensation certification to continue to push forward in my new career path.

Could you tell us more about your current job?

My current role is administering the annual compensation planning (merit) cycle, as well as our corporate bonus programs. I’ve been in this role for roughly 2.5 years and have seen it develop significantly. As of two years ago, we did most of our compensation planning and bonus programs in spreadsheets. Now, we have ~90% of eligible merit employees in our automated system, as well as our entire bonus program. This eliminated a significant amount of time and escapes from the previous spreadsheet process. I’m very excited to see what the next year has in store for updates and improvements!

What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your current work?

I find the ability to see real-time data most rewarding — before, it was in Excel and extremely challenging to consolidate. The most challenging part of my current work is managing all the specific country requests. We do have local total rewards employees to help manage the requests, but it still requires a lot of organization and communication!

What are your favorite things about working at Carrier?

I appreciate the autonomy to drive specific initiatives. We complete a strategic review every year that helps outline our short-term and long-term goals. This helps us identify our priorities and work together toward completing tasks. How the tasks get completed is where we are empowered with the autonomy to make decisions to push the project through.

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