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I grabbed my cell after the first ring in order not to wake up Joe.  It was past midnight and we were in a luxury hotel room of the famous InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise.  My boss had mentioned in his email that there had been changes due to the reorg and that he wanted to talk to me first before making the announcement.  I pinged him after settling down in my room only to find out that he was on a conference call but would call me as soon as possible.

Mid-night phone calls are usually not good.  This one was no exception.  As a result of the reorg, my team was to be dispersed, and I would report to the lead analyst of a client team, a position lower than what I first started with the company 4 years ago.  I lost my VP box in the org chart in less than a year! How disheartening! My long-anticipated Sichuan tour started to feel hellish.  With the assurance that I could always count on his support and recommendations, my boss informed me of two future openings and encouraged me to apply.

It was a long night.  After much tossing and turning, I managed to fall sleep around 2 am but woke up at 5.  My dear husband was shocked when I broke the news to him.  The goodhearted man tried to cheer me up by stating that he would support me under all circumstances: job or jobless, VP or worker, sickness or health.

We arrived at Jiuzhaigou early in the morning.  The “Valley of nine villages” (Jiuzhaigou) is derived from 9 ancient Tibetan villages, hence the name.  The valley is covered with old-growth forest dotted with 108 lakes.  The main scenic area stretches about 80 kilometers in the form of a letter “Y” composing of three valleys Shuzheng, Rize and Zechawa which provide the enchanting view of waterfall, mountains and lakes.  The clear green-hued water glistened and dazzled under the sun, and the mountains were shrouded in a golden veil.  I was lost in this unbelievably natural beauty.  My problems seemed small and insignificant.  Little did I know at the time that an earthquake two month later would destroy some of this dreamlike scenery, and that the paradise hotel we stayed at the night before would collapse to ruins.

Three days later, the two jobs my boss mentioned appeared on the company’s intranet and I submitted my application along with the resume I managed to update in the hotel rooms at night.  One was a stretch, but the other looked particularly promising since the hiring manager was my previous manager.

When I returned to the office ten days later, I contacted my former boss to get a feel for the competitive landscape.  There were only two applicants, but I was faced with a very tough competitor.  He went into the interviews armed with the impressive 13-year experience with the company, his eloquence, a well-crafted 90-day plan (which I found out after the fact) and a stellar reputation.  I was battling jet lag. There was a solid plan in my head but I didn’t put it in a nice little slide.  Even though the odds were against me, I was hoping that the hiring manager would choose me because I had worked for him for almost 3 years and was his top performer!  Well, I didn’t get the job.  My hopes of a quick rebound to the higher ground was dashed.  My ego was wounded twice in two weeks, which was hard to swallow.

The next two weeks turned out to be the hardest since I joined the company.  I lost my footing and started self-doubting, “Am I ever going to get a job I love?” “Should I resign or retire?” “Should I look for a better opportunity elsewhere?”  I went back and forth from one option to the other but eventually came to the conclusion that I liked the company’s values and culture and therefore would fight for a box that would match my experience, capability and interest.

VP roles don’t pop up everyday and so the waiting game began.  There were two opportunities looming on the horizon: one was my competitor’s former role (he was gracious enough to explain to me what it entailed and my initial reaction was mixed) and the other a newly created position of training and development (I felt drawn to it).  The only issue was that nobody knew when the latter would be approved for posting and what level it would be at.  As the VP of Retail Card Analytics, I spent a big chunk of my time coordinating technical training for the analytic community and loved working with people from different platforms and functions.  To my delight, I was asked to continue doing that until the new headcount would be approved and filled.  Between doing analytics (coding) and organizing the various training classes, I reached a new equilibrium internally.  The Advanced Analytics SVP asked me to draft a training curriculum and present it to his team and peers.  I did and it was well received.  I set up a one-on-one with the EVP who would approve the new box, introduced myself, my background and career interests.  He candidly shared with me his vision for the organization and how the training role would fit into this.  A consensus seemed to be formed that I’d be the ideal candidate for training & development if it ever came into existence.

The job was posted at the end of August as “VP, Analytics Training and Development” with “Strong internal candidate identified”, much sooner than anticipated.  Even though the writing was on the wall that it would be mine, I was not going to leave anything to chances.  I did my homework and came up with a one pager of vision and plan.  I won over the HR people more with my passion than my proven experiences.  My future responsibilities will include delivering technical training to the analytic community, college recruiting and BLP (Business Leadership Program) rotations.  It is going to be such a fun job!

Being demoted is a humbling experience that builds one’s character.  The support poured on me when I was down and under was incredible.  People genuinely wanted to see me succeed. I attribute my rebound to determination, dignity, a strong network and passion.