Where do you live now?
Debi: McFarland, WI!
What are your hobbies?
Debi: Reading! Also, I have a baby grand piano that I love to play because it helps me relax. And, having just moved back to WI in the last year, I've recently added boating to the list. (Editor's note: I'm going to insert reading again. I'm pretty sure Debi's decision to purchase her current house was primarily driven by shelf-space availability.)
What are some of the things you're most proud of from your time at Epic?
Debi: I loved being a TL. It was the best part of my job there. Epic hired such talented people that being a TL and helping folks realize their potential there was incredibly rewarding and for the most part, a pleasure. It's been fun to see the first team members I had go on to work for Epic abroad, succeed my tenure, and otherwise go on to great things at the company. I hope that I was a positive part of helping them build their career trajectories at Epic.
What was it that made you realize that it was time to venture beyond Epic?
Debi: I had a few frustrating incidents in my last year at Epic, some customer-based and some internal, and they made me feel restless. There wasn't one "straw that broke the camel's back" for me, but at the time I was 24 and didn't have any long-term commitments to the area, so it was a good time for me to venture out into the world and see what else was available. I left Epic feeling very positive about my time there, and grateful to the company for giving me such great experience and confidence; I felt, and still feel, that Epic was a critical component in my professional competence.
What have you been up to since leaving, and what are you most proud of in the time since?
Debi: Immediately after leaving Epic I traveled through Southeast Asia for four months. It was a tough but amazing trip; I had to rely on myself to figure things out in very foreign cultures, and I used the time to try and develop my personal strengths and identity. Epic built my professional identity up in a concrete way, but this trip was a way for me to reorient myself to being alone with my thoughts, to having no commitments to anyone, and to recognizing my own priorities.
After I got back from Asia, I moved to Chicago and worked at a company that built websites for professional services organizations. It wasn't for me, and about nine months into that I got an offer for an Epic consulting gig that was too good to turn down. I've been consulting since 2014 and haven't looked back!
I'm also in the process of earning my MHA online, and will graduate in early August.
What do you wish you had known before striking out for post-Epic life?
Debi: I don't regret leaving, but I wish I had enjoyed myself there more. I think I was too young to understand how businesses really work and how universal some of the frustrations are; I took myself too seriously and felt personally affronted by the inefficiency of bureaucracy (laughable in retrospect!). I would have been happier if I had divorced myself from the idea that I was entitled to work at a perfectly optimized and streamlined company. That company does not exist.
What's next for you?
Debi: Consulting is a great fit for me, and I'm hoping to stick with it as long as I can. I love the freedom to choose my contracts and travel to different parts of the country; I enjoy the variety of problems I'm brought in to solve; I enjoy the finality of being able to walk away from customers and projects and really be "done" with something. I didn't intend to go into consulting when I left Epic, but I'm lucky I was afforded the opportunity and glad that I made the jump. I'm hoping that with my MHA I can transition into more strategic consulting and away from strictly Epic work.
Past that, I'm just constantly refining my Excel workbook that calculates the age at which I can retire, and trying to contribute more to my index funds. I'd love to keep working hard now and retire at 50.... But we'll see what the Excel document says.
Reader, Virtuoso, Excel Savant, and probably the funniest person you'd ever meet... Keep plugging away at the MHA, Debi! Good luck, and let us know when you decide to open-source the retirement calculator project :)