Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

The Magazine Of Queen's University

Search form

Reader stories about changing gears

Reader stories about changing gears

She has criss-crossed the continent since graduating from Queen's in 2006....

An intervention from Jean Royce changed this young man's career path...

Readers share their stories of change. 

[bike photo]
Photo by Bernard Clark

Change is a constant

By Christie Lyons, Sc'06

[Photo of Christie Lyons and friends]
Hiking in Yosemite National Park: Valerie Bennett, Rachel Adams and Christie Lyons, all Sc'06

19,572 km is the total distance I have criss-crossed this continent in order to relocate my life, since graduating from Queen’s in 2006. Ten addresses have had my mail sent to them. Four years is the longest I’ve lived in any given city and three companies have tried their best to keep me. Change brings loss, excitement, uncertainty and lack of control and I can’t say I’m always at ease with my decisions. The impact and time required for adjustment tend to be unknown, compounding the difficulty for those, like me, that rely on concrete timelines. Sometimes it’s a tough choice between the stress of being unsatisfied and the inherent stress that comes with change.

 Sometimes it’s a tough choice between the stress of being unsatisfied and the inherent stress that comes with change.

The upside? I’ve experienced new cultures, and viewed major cities from the eyes of a local. I’ve overcome fears, been challenged, grown and challenged again. I would say, moving so often, changed me. It helped me open up to people and learn how to better connect. I know how to embed myself into the culture of a city; meeting new people and settling in became second nature. The question, “Where are you from?” took on a whole new meaning and occasionally confounded me.

My first job was in Los Angeles, and I found it through the Queen’s career portal. Bungane Mehlomakulu, a Sc’02 graduate, was my interviewer and subsequent supervisor. The company (IBE, now Stantec) specifically recruited Queen’s graduates because of the quality of our education. When I arrived in this new world, sight unseen, I was welcomed into a close-knit group of no fewer than 11 alumni.

After four years, I moved to San Francisco as the city better suited me. Later, personal events caused me to move home to Ontario for a short time. Looking to stay in Canada but relocate to Vancouver, I reached out to a handful of alumni to research career directions and companies. Eventually, I was connected with the Queen’s Western Canada office; their help, in combination with my personal network enabled me to set up several interviews in short order.

My first day of work in Vancouver, there was an office tour and introduction to staff. Who did I find, but Andy Chong, Sc’07, whom I had originally met while working at Science Quest (Kingston is beautiful in the summer). He helped me settle in professionally and even invited me to join his volleyball team. I also reconnected with many other former classmates around the city who did not hesitate to include me. Especially important were the “Orphan”holidays, a term used in jest among Ontario expats to indicate that we are celebrating with friends instead of relations.

This fall, I moved back to my roots in Ontario; initiating another large change, while anticipating more to come. I will never become accustomed to disarray but at least now I have confidence that I can make a life for myself anywhere. I’ve learned I can be successful wherever I choose. So thank you to the Queen’s alumni network, who helped smooth the bumps along the way and make new beginnings a little less intimidating.


Finding his calling...with a little help from Jean Royce

by Peter S. Taylor, Com'70

Do you have a story about changing careers or direction in your life? Share it with us! review@queensu.ca

In high school, I had my mind set on becoming an electrical engineer and a naval officer. The notion of electrical engineering came from my passion for playing and experimenting with things electrical. My desire to become a naval officer came from my admiration for my father and his career. He had joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1939 and joined the permanent force after the war ended. He retired as a Commodore. 

I arrived at Queen’s under the ROTP (Regular Officer Training Plan) in 1965.

The first semester flew by. I worked hard but found myself struggling with the majority of courses. My Christmas results were not encouraging! I felt that I had made a serious mistake and the creeping doubts of failure became stronger and stronger…

After Christmas, I returned to Kingston in early January. I was uncertain as to what to do… Then came an amazing exchange that changed my life!

I met with Registrar Jean Royce. In short order, we agreed that engineering was not my calling! At that point, I had no idea what my calling was… After further discussion, we agreed that I would withdraw immediately so that I would not forfeit my year. I had no thoughts about what my next step might be. As I was about to leave the meeting with Jean Royce, I was quite forcefully informed that I should enroll in the School of Business! I was completely taken aback as I had never even considered business…

Jean Royce was the catalyst for my changing gears. And she was absolutely right! After I graduated with a Hons. B.Comm., I spent eight years in human resources management in manufacturing and five years as a professor teaching what I had learned in industry. I left that tenured position to run a retail company which was not fun. Rather than returning to work for someone else, I opened a private practice offering consulting, teaching and coaching services to leaders of people. My practice has taken me around the world and continues to provide with me amazing opportunities to learn and be part of many exciting organizations.

I shudder to think where I might have ended up without that exchange with Jean Royce. It was her insight and encouragement that resulted in my changing gears… She was an extraordinarily perceptive person.

Peter runs his business, Peter Taylor & Associates in Oshawa, Ont.

[cover - Queen's Alumni Review Digital Special Edition Fall 2015]