‘Make Yourself Uncomfortable and Take Risks’ — 2 Women Share How They Changed Their Careers

Sponsored by KinderCare Learning Companies

Photos courtesy of KinderCare.

Liz Leach and Nelly Waziri.

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Fairygodboss
April 17, 2024 at 5:48AM UTC

Ever considered making a career pivot within your company? Liz Leach, who is currently a Talent Acquisition Recruiter at KinderCare Learning Companies , the largest private provider of high-quality early childhood education and care services (“ECE”) in the United States by center capacity certainly has experience in this area. “In my time at KinderCare, I have been a teacher, assistant director, program specialist, center director and recruiter,” shares Leach. And she is not alone in this nonlinear career trajectory.

Nelly Waziri, who is currently serving as the center operations coordinator for new site growth,  joined KinderCare’s child company Champions in 2018 as a site director and spent time as a field coach before transitioning to her current position.

And what is Leach and Waziri’s secret to making career pivots that work? A supportive company culture full of managers who care and help you be your best self!

“Moving from a leadership role to talent acquisition was a great experience for me,” shares Leach. “I received a tremendous amount of training, development and support from my leader and mentor. The talent acquisition team at KinderCare is inclusive, welcoming, collaborative and engaging.”

As for Waziri, she tells us that, “Once all schools began to return to in-person learning, I expressed my interest in venturing into a new role. My area manager was beyond supportive and provided so many tools for my success… I was beyond grateful and excited when I was offered [my new] role.”

It’s truly the people and the culture at KinderCare and Champions that helps employees like Leach and Waziri grow their careers, all without switching companies. As Leach puts it, 
“KinderCare has been my family for almost 20 years, and I can’t imagine a world without it!” Find out more about career journeys, and best advice for you, in this article.

What made you decide to make a career change and pivot to your current role?

Leach: I had to leave my center director role because we had to relocate to another state. During that time, I transitioned to a recruitment role with KinderCare and discovered that I have a love for recruiting, human resources and serving leaders in the field — all while still having a positive impact on children. I found this work to be inspiring and decided to continue my education. I have recently received my master’s degree in human resources management.

Waziri: During the very beginning of the pandemic, our area continued to offer full-day childcare for families in need up until the recent school year of 2021/2022. I continued to adjust with the change while learning a great deal of new processes and information. I felt that I had accomplished above and beyond my role in the field and for what was required. This reflection and change in society sparked my interest in other opportunities in the company — I desired to grow and increase my skills.

What is your best advice for other women who are thinking about making a career pivot? 

Leach: Make yourself uncomfortable and take risks. Change is difficult and overwhelming, but when you embrace change, you will come out stronger, be more resilient and have a new perspective.

Waziri:

  • Never doubt yourself or be afraid to take risks. 

  • Trust your instincts.

  • Knowledge is power.

  • Set yourself a plan and continue learning.

  • If you have an idea, present it.

How have you benefited from the skills/experience you’ve gained in your career journey?

Leach: When I started my career journey with KinderCare, I was shy, quiet and new to the workforce. The skills, knowledge and confidence I have gained through my supportive leaders at KinderCare are priceless. KinderCare is committed to lifelong learning, career development and internal growth opportunities.

Waziri: My 14 years of experience working in Childhood Education and Retail have tremendously helped with my journey. In both careers, I have developed extensive skills working with people whether it’s students, families or customers. I’m great at deescalating situations and finding a resolution to satisfy all parties involved. Since my new role, I’ve been able to incorporate my experience and learning from working in field operations to NSC operations. This has been a great asset as I am able to offer valuable input and suggestions on supporting the field better and ensuring new sites are provided with all the tools for success.

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

Leach: I find it very rewarding to know that my work supports the very important mission to educate young children, create lifelong learners and impact the future. The most challenging part of my work is knowing that the current labor shortage is preventing us from reaching more children. I am passionate about finding people with the skills and passion to care for children and impact our future.  

Waziri: Initially, my transition to working in the field to at-home was a challenge. I needed to adjust to not traveling to sites or being present with staff and students. Although my environment changed, my service values and goals remained the same. People were such an important aspect of my day-to-day life, and I knew this would continue with my current team. Our goal is to support and partner with the field.

What are your favorite things about working at KinderCare?

Leach: My favorite things about working for KinderCare are the culture, engagement and leadership. I love our partnership with Gallup and that our leaders listen to employee feedback and make organizational changes based on the feedback. KinderCare leaders care deeply about employees, educating children and creating great experiences for people.

Waziri: One of my favorite things about working at Champions is the culture. All my interactions have been meaningful and engaged. Everyone is supportive of growth and provides the necessary tools to do so. I admire that the focus is directed on children and their families.



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