Linda Rossetti is a Harvard MBA, serial entrepreneur and expert on transition and its impact on individuals and organizations. Her work on transition, and the incredible energy that she brings to it, coalesced after an uncertain and surprising period she experienced nearly a decade ago. At forty-five, the long-time MWF member caught herself saying, “This is it? You must be kidding. I’ve worked this hard for this?” That internal dialogue occurred during her CEO’s all-day staff meeting at Iron Mountain, a Fortune 500 company with 21,000 employees in thirty-seven countries where Rossetti served as an EVP and C Suite member. The internal dialogue unexpectedly challenged Rossetti to revisit her assumptions about work and the desired impact she hoped to have.
“Today, I think about my career impact in very simple terms. I want to change how the world thinks about transitions.” said Rossetti with a broad smile.
Rossetti believes that the topic of transition found her even though she was no stranger to transitions. Earlier she served as the CEO of EMaven, Inc., a venture-capital backed technology company that was acquired by publicly traded Perot Systems, now Dell EMC. Following that acquisition, she was recruited by an EMaven Advisory Board member to join Iron Mountain, a highly-acquisitive company that had completed more than two hundred acquisitions.
Like many of us in uncertain times, Rossetti searched for resources to help her make sense of how she might move forward. “I was surprised at how little I found that spoke to the enormity of what I was experiencing,” she said. Instead of caving, Rossetti doubled-down. She initiated research, a step that ultimately included hundreds of people from all walks of life who participated in two eighteen-month research cycles. “People seemed to show up. Serendipitously. For example, a professional colleague who happened to run a well-known national outplacement firm said, ‘We will be your learning lab. Let us know what you need.’” Thanks to this type of support, Rossetti’s research yielded groundbreaking insights on transitions and the skills required to navigate it successfully.
“I discovered that we grossly misunderstand transition as a society,” said Rossetti. “Very often the first question people ask me once they hear about my work is, “What type of transition?’” Her research revealed that a wide variety of life experiences – from job loss to divorce to remarriage to sudden success – can serve as a catalyst to transitioning although none guarantee such an action.
Captivated by her research findings, Rossetti initiated a series of activities designed to address her important conclusions. She founded The Transition Institute, LLC, an organization that is dedicated to supporting individuals and organizations as they navigate transition. Her clients include Merrill Lynch, the US Air Force, Analog Devices, Harvard University, and many others. Her first book, Women & Transition: Reinventing Work and Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), is a 5-star rated Amazon top seller. Most importantly, Rossetti and her organization collaborate with a number of organizations to advance thinking about transition through curriculum design, additional research and other multi-disciplinary pursuits. She hosts the podcast Destination Unknown – a field guide; and has been featured on NPR, NECN, CBS/WBZ, Money Magazine, The Boston Business Journal, SMARTBrief and other outlets.
“I view my work now more expansively than when I was in the C Suite. I think about my work in transition in terms of an enlivening value proposition, one that bestows individuals – and organizations – with the confidence to make different choices in times of uncertainty. Choices not driven by fear or perceived barriers or constraints but choices that allow them to identify opportunities, pursue dreams that felt previously impossible, and ultimately live the life they’ve imagined. It is a long way from the conference room at Iron Mountain. Thanks to my willingness to not run the other way in the face of uncertainty, I feel as if I uncovered the work I was put on the planet to do.”