Michele Glaze: Taking the Plunge, For Better or Worse

MicheleGlaze-headshotFor as long as she can remember, Michele Glaze has wanted to move to California. Not because the Saskatchewan native had visions of being a Hollywood starlet but because she wanted to work behind the scenes where the drama was real. While she hasn’t (yet) made it to California, Glaze did leave behind a well-paid, secure corporate position for a career in the non-profit world of performance arts where she got to fulfill her dream of working in music and staging live events.

Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out and today the 48-year-old Glaze is seeking new opportunities.

But be warned: This is not a cautionary tale about the perils of taking a risk, leaving your comfort zone and following your passion. While the job may not have been a good fit, Glaze is adamant she made the right decision in taking the plunge and is confident she will find something in the field which she really loves.

“I have absolutely no regrets. Even in my position of having to look for a new job, I would do it all over again. If I hadn’t left my secure job and taken the risk, I would always have wondered. I’ve never been comfortable with the what ifs in life.”

Born and raised in Regina, Canada, more or less midway between Winnipeg and Calgary, Glaze was always involved in the performing arts. She was up to her ears in band, choir, theater, and piano, and was interested in staying in the field in some capacity as she grew older. But the child of parents who believed in pursuing something practical, she opted for the path of least resistance when it came time to pick a career. “I did what was expected and got a certificate in administration so I could go do something ‘sensible’ with my life,” she explains.

For 11 years, Glaze held administrative positions until she hit what many called “the motherlode”, getting a government job as a customer service rep at SaskTel, Saskatchewan’s full-service communications provider. After almost six years on the job, Glaze moved up the ladder and became a communications manager, a title she held for a further eight-and-a-half years. That is until “the chance of a lifetime” fell in her lap, a Directorship position at Saskatchewan Express, a touring music revue with two musical theatre and dance studios targeted at 3–18-year olds.

“I liked my job and was good at it, but after eight years I had reached the point where it was no longer challenging. I was looking around but nothing else in the MicheleGlaze-collagebusiness appealed to me. I had been volunteering for the last five years at Saskatchewan Express to offset my daughter’s dance fees, so when they reached out to me for a paid position I didn’t hesitate. Despite my well-paid ‘cushy’ corporate job, I was in my mid 40s and thought, ‘now’s my chance to give this a try’. I knew for certain I didn’t want to reach the end of my life and have regrets.”

Glaze relished the opportunity to feed her creative side and be part of an organization she felt strongly about. She grew as a leader and an individual, but there was no hiding from the fact that, like most non-profits, Saskatchewan Express was always trying to squeeze the most out of its (Canadian) dollars. Because of its rapid growth it was constantly short-staffed, and over the years Glaze regularly worked 70 hours per week, including weekends and nights and never took a day of vacation.

MicheleGlaze-action-shot“I would have these moments when I would be so full of pride seeing the kids on stage – so confident and performing so beautifully – it would move me to tears. Then I’d think, ‘this is why I do this’, but unfortunately it got to the point where the exhaustion overshadowed everything and I just couldn’t keep going.”

She went on a six-week stress leave. And when she returned, it was more of the same. “In my absence, things had gotten out of control and I spent the remainder of the year trying to get the organization back in balance and keeping everyone happy. I was successful, but by the time we reached the year-end finale, I was finished.”

Although highly conflicted, Glaze knew it was in her best interest to walk away. “I have tremendous respect for our founder and what she has done. I left a great paying job to work there and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but I needed to get some separation.” Glaze resigned on good terms, staying on an extra three months to transition in the new director and a creative assistant into roles she’d previously performed, and she still helps with projects on a contract basis.

So what next? “I could easily return to the corporate sector and would be content to do so. I liked it and was good at what I did but it didn’t move my heart like my creative work at Saskatchewan Express. I would love to stay in the industry; I just need to find a better work–life balance. I’ve got a solid foundation in the music and performing arts world, as well as staging small and large events, so perhaps the perfect job would be marrying this with my marketing and communications experience.”

Unfortunately it will come down to money as Glaze is not going to be able to afford to be picky long term. Her daily routine of checking job boards and Linked In has been helpful in finding connections. But Glaze is so confident about her path she is willing to move where the right job takes her, including across the border to the US.

Who knows, maybe she will get her dream and end up in California one day. Is Ellen hiring these days?

Michele Glaze’s advice to women unhappy in their careers:
  • Go for it! Listen to your gut. While it might not work out as you hoped, there is nothing wrong in trying. Continue to try because that’s where you find the greatest success and satisfactions
  • Always be eager to embrace change. While sometimes scary it is also where the best rewards can be found.
  • Be open to any opportunity that presents itself as it has the potential to lead you right where you want to go.
  • Pursue your dreams, regardless of how crazy it may seem to others. Trust in yourself and always remember it is important because it matters to you…never be ashamed of that and never be afraid to go after it.

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