Finding My (Professional) Self

Finding My (Professional) Self
Julie Krueger
December 23, 2015
Athena Statue

Have you ever changed careers, midcareer? It’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes commitment, guts and a lot of support from those around you. I know, because I just did.

For more than 15 years, I worked on the creative side of the agency doing art direction. I loved it. The concepts, the production, the comradery, the energy – everything. But, I often felt pulled in other directions and most days it was toward strategy. Ultimately, I knew it was where I wanted to be next, and I welcomed the opportunity for advancement as Güd Marketing’s strategic planner.


I knew I had the skills needed for agency growth. And, I had the desire to push myself into an alternate arena. I also knew that I loved the agency I worked at and didn’t want to go anywhere else. I just didn’t know how to make it happen. Everyone knew me as an art director. How would they feel about seeing me in a new role? Would it change how colleagues interacted with me? Would they trust me to get the job done?


Around the same time I was agonizing over how to make such a shift, I serendipitously signed up for ATHENA WIN’s Enlightened Leadership program.

Based on ATHENA International’s Leadership Model, the program focuses on the eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership:

Authentic Self: Understanding who you are – your values, beliefs and thoughts. Honoring your uniqueness. Accepting personal responsibility for your actions. 

Celebration & Joy: Appreciating and acknowledging your accomplishments. Looking forward to your life with a sense of hope and purpose. 

Collaboration: Reaching out beyond what you can achieve on your own. Working in unison with others, while celebrating diverse points of view, ideas and actions. 

Courageous Acts: Standing up and standing firm in the face of fear. Taking risks to speak the truth or challenge the way things have always been done. 

Fierce Advocacy: Supporting and acting on your passion for people, causes or ideas. Creating an unstoppable force for the greater good. 

Giving Back: Serving the greater good. Committing to help your personal community of family, friends and peers as well as the global village at large. 

Learning: Challenging yourself to listen and be open to what is new and unfamiliar. Expanding and developing your knowledge, skills and experiences. Teaching others.

Relationships: Connecting with and embracing others. Appreciating the gifts and talents of different people in your life. 


I can’t help but think this program allowed me to set myself up mentally – and emotionally – to be able to make the move.

So here I am, at the end of the year in a completely new role. And so far, so good. Although, the cultural part is still a bit of a challenge ­­– not a day goes by where I’m not asked a creative question – I chalk that up to tribal knowledge. And I’m happy to help.

In the end, if you’re yearning to grow in your career, and love where you work, carve out a space for yourself. And, I highly recommend taking the course. You never know, you may end up in a totally new role that you love as much – or even more – than your last.

As Güd Marketing’s strategic planner, Krueger works collaboratively with each agency department to deeply understand client goals and unearth insights about brands and consumers that inform all marketing efforts.