Sometimes the Grass Really Is Greener on the Other Side

After completing 26 years of State service, I decided to pack my boxes and cross over to the other side. The “other side” for me was HORNE. Make no mistake, this wasn’t an easy decision. I prayed and talked to the ones it will affect the most—my family. My mother gave me the “grass isn’t always greener on the other side” conversation.

My time with the State had definitely been rewarding and I had gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of the way governments work. I had the opportunity to work for three different agencies, meeting lots of great people while providing services to those most in need.  The Department of Human Services (DHS) created the foundation and Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) paved the way. I didn’t regret a single year, but I knew it was time to move on. As my college professor would say, “When you’re green you grow; but when you’re ripe, you rot!”

I had worked closely with the HORNE team while I was at MDA and there was never a time I heard anyone complain about the company. If they were unhappy, I figured they sure did a great job at hiding it! It seemed a natural fit, given it was somewhat of a continuation of what I had been doing for the past five years. I also knew some of their core values, which aligned perfectly with mine.

Above all, I was able to bring my previous work experience to the table at HORNE. I have been able to approach our clients and their needs knowing full well what they’re dealing with. I have actually sat where they sit and walked a mile (or more) in their shoes.

My experience from being on the other side has allowed me to anticipate the needs of the client in my role at HORNE. New grantees with no experience implementing disaster funds simply don’t know what they don’t know. It’s my job to assist them by taking on their headaches, which is exactly what HORNE did for me when I was the client.

Truth be told, the major adjustment has been taking advantage of the flexibility afforded to me by the Firm. As a baby boomer, whether in the state or private sector, I was taught to work and take limited time off to demonstrate commitment. But as time has passed, I realize that if I don’t think it’s acceptable for me to take advantage of the “perks,” then I can’t support and encourage others to do the same. I’ve worked hard to slay those “guilt vampires.” And the flexibility offered by HORNE spills over to our clients. We are happier, more rested, and more prepared team members which makes us even more ready and willing to think outside the box and better serve our clients.

Another major difference in my new career has been the opportunity for advancement. In state government, you learned, with the exception of appointed positions, that your opportunity for upward mobility was limited because there were individuals who would never leave the position they were in. HORNE celebrates the growth of team member success at any time during the course of their career. It is great to see team members be promoted when they deserve to be, not only if there is a vacant seat.

Finally, serving in primarily time-limited, appointed positions, it had been over 20 years since I had a performance evaluation. No one talked to me in a formal setting to discuss my strengths and growth opportunity areas. I have had two different performance advisors and both have been instrumental in assisting me in setting goals and putting a plan to place to help me accomplish them. I have learned to appreciate the difficult conversations just as much as the pleasant ones, because they will ultimately help me to reach my full potential.

I believe my transition from the State to HORNE benefitted me, the Firm, and our clients. The grass has, in fact, been greener on the other side. HORNE has proven to be everything I expected and more and I look forward to the years to come and continued service to others. 

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Topics: Culture

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