“Not enjoying the day-to-day was what prompted me to think about what I was doing. I then really started to try to focus on what I did enjoy,” explains Amy Harris, EVP. Amy is the Chief Legal Officer at UMB Financial, the largest bank in Kansas City. Today, she shares her journey from starting college as a musical theater major to going into political science and becoming a lawyer, and ultimately to going in-house.
When Amy realized she wasn’t enjoying the day-to-day of her chosen musical theater major in college, she knew it was time to re-evaluate and reconnect with the things that brought her joy back in high school. She gave herself the permission to be creative with her emotional intelligence and follow her strengths. This led her into studying political science and onto the path of becoming a lawyer. After working for a few years at a private law firm, Amy was absolutely in love with the work, but was struggling to maintain healthy boundaries. She knew there had to be a better, healthier way to continue doing the litigation she loved. By choosing to go in-house, Amy was able to really get in touch with her strengths and capitalize on her skill-set in a way that energized her without risking burnout.
If you’re spending everyday doing something you don’t love, it will deplete your energy. It is okay to step back from whatever label has been imposed onto you, re-evaluate your strengths and interests, and even to switch careers. You are not just your job title, and by looking at yourself as your skills rather than that arbitrary title, you will have more freedom to pursue a role you are passionate about.
“Not enjoying the day-to-day was what prompted me to think about what I was doing. I really started to just try to focus on what I did enjoy.” (7:11–7:18 | Amy)
“One of the things that an in-house litigator really, really brings to the table is an ability to translate legal ideas, issues, to a layman audience, which is going to be corporate executives.” (13:11–13:25 | Amy)
“Stop putting yourself in that box. I’m a lawyer. I’m a litigator. I’m a transactional attorney. I’m a contract attorney. Yes, you are that. But what are the skills that you use everyday that make you good at that?” (23:19–23:33 | Amy)
“Really start to think about yourself as a set of skills. Because until I did that, I think I had a really hard time seeing myself as anything other than the label I had given myself.” (23:45–23:55 | Amy)
“When you start to line up what’s giving you energy, you can also then inherently start to identify where your strengths are.” (26:34–26:43 | Amy)