Milla Craig

Previous life:

Director, Institutional Equity Sales  – representation of financial research to large pension funds, mutual funds and private wealth management firms.

New life:

Founder and Principal at Millani – Perspectives in Sustainable Investments

Motivation for change:

I loved what I did on a day-to-day basis, but ultimately I felt like I just kept getting further and further away from my values.  Money was never my reason to get out of the bed in the morning; serving others’ and helping people do their job to their highest capacity drove me.  Unfortunately, the measuring stick of capital markets tends to be monetary gain … I felt the more time I was in that position and the higher I went within the organization the further and further I got from the average citizen.  I grew up in humble beginnings so I know the value of an honest day’s work, but also that service to something more than just making money was severely lacking in my life.  Collaboration is what I desired most and it was lacking in my life.

How she did it:

Once leaving my employer, I took a self-imposed one-year sabbatical.  I read books, I traveled, I decorated my home … took time for all those things I never had time for.  I also began a process of working with a coach and in fact, ended up over a period of 1.5 years working with two separate coaches – a creative coach who had the challenge of helping me break my old habits and helped me gain new perspectives; and a life coach who asked me many challenging and difficult questions.  With both of these coaches and many hours of thought, I realized that I couldn’t completely leave my love for capital markets, yet had a desire to investigate what this new movement called “Corporate Social Responsibility” was all about and how I might marry the two.

Given my investment background, I decided to invest in my knowledge and myself and promptly put myself on an airplane and headed to my first conference in London (England).  Given this field was so new in North America and the lack of courses available at any universities in North America, I decided I would invest in what would practically become my own MBA.  So during the past 1.5 years I have been attending courses, conferences, seminars, doing research and a lot of networking.  Having invested in such way in my own career, I have broken down many of my walls of fear and I now continue onward with launching my own consulting practice.

Challenges:

People don’t know how to relate to you often once you’ve left your position.  There has been an awkward period where many people in my network have become very uncomfortable with me not returning to a “position”. My sense is that it’s destabilizing for others that I’m not following the norm.  Many consider that I am not working; yet I’m working as hard as I did before – just differently.

I’ve been lucky to have savings that have allowed me to make my way through this course of learning, researching, etc.  It is challenging to see a new market and the potential for a business, and also a need to research because I am being somewhat of a maverick in this field.  I have yet to generate revenue from this idea, but increasingly I see the potential.

Even more challenging is sticking with your values.  It can become incredibly challenging for family and friends when you make decisions that are right for you but aren’t always obvious to others why you are making them.  They have the greatest of intentions, they worry that somehow you’ve lost your way, but really it takes great patience and determination to follow your own voice and values.

Advantages:

Time to think.  Yes, this new life style brings with it time to take care of myself.  I’ve learned a whole new respect for my body and my soul during this process and I have substantially changed the way I live and the priorities in my life.  Consequently, I have a quieter mind and I create times in my life for thinking. I believe innovation begins with thinking and looking at the big picture, and this is where one has the opportunity to spot new trends/concepts.

At this point, I no longer need to be in an office and keep stringent business hours.  I can be flexible with my priorities and myself.  I make time for the other things in my life that are important and I have become less defined by what I do for a living.

Advice:

Life is short.  If you are not happy, find a way to make a change.  Coaching can be a great mechanism to help you clarify what it is that’s lacking with your current position and/or what it is that you really desire.  You can do your coaching while in your current position or you can also rent yourself out while you’re exploring your opportunities.  We often don’t even know what might be possible until we explore!!!  Explore and exploit.  Go searching for what speaks to you and then find a way to get involved.

Believe in yourself and your knowing.  Be determined – don’t listen to the nay-sayers.   Finally, surround yourself with people who are open-minded.  They may not always agree with your choices but at least they will go along the path with you and help you in your exploration and then your eventual exploitation.

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