"HOW I BUILT A CAREER AFTER DIVORCE”
At a recent, compelling Divorce Salon gathering on the topic of women rebooting their careers, Michelle Schepel, Manager of Partnerships and Programs at the Boston Pizza Foundation, openly shared her story. Afterwards, we caught up with her and spoke to her about her post-divorce experience.
Michelle explained: “I was divorced back in 1995, my children were 5 months old and 2 years. My mother had just passed at 50 years old. Needless to say, it was a very challenging time.” Like so many other women, she was disoriented by the divorce process, left as the primary parent facing overwhelming financial challenges.
“Just making sure my kids were okay. That was my priority. I was a stay-at-home mom and didn’t have any formal education, nor had I planned for the cost of post-secondary education. I had to provide for them. I had to keep going for them.”
Michelle starting working as a receptionist at Boston Pizza out of necessity. With basic administrative skills, she slowly moved up the ranks from reception to admin assistant to HR co-ordinator to Office Manager to EA to Executive Director.
“Things don’t just happen overnight. It was a process of building on my skills. If you try to take initiative in the position that you are in and share your interests with people you work with, opportunities will present themselves.”
For Michelle, it started by creating a “green club” as an office manager. She was passionate about environmental initiatives, and her workplace leadership grew from there. As an advocate for Cancer prevention, she later built a team for a local Cancer run and was soon asked to do so for the office. “I discovered that I am a person who simply wants to do more. I kept thinking about what made me most happy.” These personal efforts evolved into heading several company charity efforts and ultimately resulted in the position she holds today.
Michelle’s advice to other women in her shoes is to ask a simple question: Would you be willing to meet with me? Don’t wait, doors will open. If you have desire, determination and the drive to go forward, you will. Your bosses and co-workers will see it. When you are passionate about something, people believe in and trust you.
When asked what’s the best thing about having crossed over to the “D-side”, Michelle’s reply was immediate: “Divorce took me out of my comfort zone. It gave me the opportunity to find my purpose, aside from my role as a mom, and for that I am grateful.”
Many thanks to Michelle for sharing her story with us. To see all of the organizations Michelle works to support within the Boston Pizza Foundation click HERE.