Episode 61 – Christine Hopkins-Spidell Planned Her Career Pivot With Purpose and Great Care
Marc interviews Christine Hopkins-Spidell on her experiences in planning for and executing a career pivot with great attention to detail and success.
Christine Hopkins-Spidell earned her Doctor of Law and Policy from Northeastern University, in 2016. Her research focused on federal and state laws relating to our Medicare and Medicaid programs. She earned her Master of Science degree from Northeastern University in Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices and her BA in Social Science at Roger Williams University. Her early career began working as a paralegal in law firms focused in the areas of real estate and corporate law while attending classes to earn her BA. She joined Textron Financial Corporation, which provided commercial and consumer lending, a subsidiary of Textron, Inc., in 1991 and over the next 20 years held various roles, including the Litigation Manager and Compliance Manager before accepting the position of Senior Corporate Compliance Specialist at Textron, Inc. Chris is currently VP of Compliance for HealthDrive.
Listen in for advice on preparing a careful and purposeful planned career pivot.
[:56] The audio version of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life is available now on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon. Listen to the end of this episode for how to win a free copy of the audiobook. Marc will give away one copy a week for one month.
[1:24] Marc announces that the Repurpose Your Career podcast is now available on Spotify. There have been a fair number of downloads, already.
[1:49] Marc lists the order of episodes. The first episode is an interview with an expert. Last week, Marc interviewed Nancy Collamer. This episode, Marc interviews Christine Hopkins-Spidell, a late-in-life career pivoter. Next week, Marc will discuss the results of the audience survey. The last episode of the series is a listener Q&A.
[2:48] Marc reads the bio of Christine Hopkins-Speidel.
[4:08] Marc introduces Christine. Chris is happy to share with the audience how the things she learned from the Repurpose Your Career website helped her. Chris talks about her career as an early paralegal in law firms in the area of real estate. She learned early on the importance of knowing where to find the answers.
[6:15] After Chris had her Paralegal certificate, she worked toward her Bachelor’s degree in Social Science. She received the offer to work at Textron, which was a great opportunity at a multi-national company of several industries. She had a lot of mentors there. After 20 years, she wanted a change. She wanted to plan it carefully to avoid risk.
[7:32] Chris’s last position at Textron was Senior Corporate Compliance Specialist. It was an auditing position related to laws, risk assessment, and action plans. She developed training materials around the laws that impacted the industries.
[9:27] Sometimes Chris needed to investigate non-compliance issues, which made her an unwelcome visitor. As Chris approached 20 years, she knew she could retire, and that was the impetus to look for other opportunities. She knew her Bachelor’s degree in Social Science would not take her far and that she had to prepare herself better.
[10:48] Chris was in her mid-fifties when she looked at this career change. Her children were already married. She wanted to see what else she could do and make a difference. She looked at healthcare, especially Medicare, and also considered starting her own business, an herb and honey store.
[12:46] Chris considered what would work best for her at that point in her life. She used a tool called the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. She determined that a store would have to be a longer-term goal. In the meantime, she took the money she had set aside and studied for the healthcare industry. She started with math, at Khan Academy.
[15:04] To pick up on some undergraduate work, Chris went to brick-and-mortar colleges. She remembers her first class very well. She felt unprepared.
[16:21] Besides getting into a Master’s program, and the undergraduate classes, Chris recommends taking some free online classes that are not for credit but very worthwhile.
[16:58] Chris was accepted into two Master’s programs: Regulatory Affairs and Psychology. She started in Psychology, learned a lot, but felt it wasn’t a fit for her, and she switched to the Regulatory Affairs program.
[17:33] Northeastern had a great program, with mentors to help her along, and also an internship program that met her objective to gain work experience in the new area. She knew she was going into a very competitive industry.
[19:10] Chris sent out one resume for a clinical research at a public hospital and got the job. She worked in Neuro-Oncology on clinical studies. It gave her the opportunity to really learn the healthcare industry.
[19:59] Chris had been planning for an internship but got a job, instead, while she was still working on her Master’s degree. For the degree she needed an internship, so she asked the hospital if she could do it in their finance department, and learn that aspect of Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. It was a great experience.
[21:31] Chris thinks she got the job because they were looking for someone with regulatory experience, although she hadn’t seen that in the job posting.
[22:58] Marc notes that job descriptions are often misleading. This job turned out to be perfect for Chris. She learned all the medical terminology and acronyms.
[23:57] From there, Chris was finishing her Master’s when she heard about the Doctor of Law and Policy program. She told the doctors at the hospital that she was applying for the program, and they gave her a great reference. She was accepted into the program, which meant more expenses.
[25:40] To eliminate a commute, and to pay her expenses as she went, she got a job closer to the University in Boston. She got a couple of offers and accepted the one at HealthDrive, with the agreement that she could have time for research to finish her doctorate.
[26:41] HealthDrive is an integrated healthcare program for patients in nursing homes in 10 states. Her initial title was compliance specialist at an entry level. Her boss there had 25 years of experience, and she knew she could learn a lot from him. After several months, they promoted her to Vice President of Compliance.
[28:49] Changing industries is really hard. Christine had a huge learning curve between financial compliance and healthcare research, and then compliance.
[29:38] Chris had to eat humble pie in college when she was yelled at for walking in late to class after an important executive meeting at work. She was shocked, but kept her calm. She also felt sluggish and slow compared to the young college kids. She also had to transition from running the show to not running the show.
[30:52] At HealthDrive, Chris ensures that the company is in compliance with the laws and regulations that affect the industry — the same job profile that she had at Textron, in a completely different industry. HealthDrive has about a thousand employees in the field and at headquarters.
[31:50] Chris didn’t expect to be back in an executive position in a new industry. Marc calls it good karma. Good things happened because she didn’t expect them. She really contacted the learning curve, and learned to study again.
[32:58] Chris’s advice for the audience is to plan effectively for the change. She recommends the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, a part of Six Sigma. You don’t want to guess. You want to plan what the risks are to you, and how to offset the risks before you make a change. She also recommends Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.
[37:09] Marc’s final thoughts: Christine is risk-averse and is a meticulous planner. This is similar to the path Dr. Joel Dobbs took in Episode 3.
[38:00] Marc tells what you need to do this week to get a free copy of the audio version of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life.
[38:27] Marc is contacting people on the waiting list for the online community of the CareerPivot.com website. To be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. Marc is looking for individuals who are motivated to take action will give input on what they want to see next in the community.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life, by Marc Miller and Susan Lahey The paperback, ebook, and audio versions are available now.
Show Notes at Careerpivot.com/repurpose-career-podcast
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