Making the right moves

Jerri DeVard's career is jumping-literally

rough patches, DeVard has surrounded herself with a strong support system of mentors. She cites her mother, Dr. Jean DeVard-Kamp, as her “life coach.” But her No. 1 fan is Gregg Smith, her husband of 16 years and the father of their two children. “My life would have taken a different turn had I married someone else,” she says.

Ever the optimist, DeVard offers this key to success: “Find what you’re good at, know what you enjoy, then develop the confidence to go after what you want.”

B.E.’s Career Coach:
“DeVard’s ability to think like a customer and marry her marketing expertise with that knowledge is what allows her to easily switch industries,” says Diane Middlebrooks, president and CEO of the Business Coach (, a career development and coaching firm in Chicago. She says DeVard’s recipe for success can help you advance in your own career:

  • Develop a skill set. DeVard is clear on what she enjoys and does well, i.e., seeing a customer’s need and meeting it. She proves that expertise transcends industry barriers. For example, if you are a customer service whiz, you can show your stuff in any industry.
  • Learn the culture. DeVard determines whether an organization supports her personal values and career goals before she accepts a position. This allows her to use her time getting up to speed on a company’s workings once she’s inside (see “New Kid on the Block,” Powerplay, April 1999).
  • Build a support network. Like DeVard’s, it can include mentors, colleagues and friends-anyone to whom you can turn for advice and support. Keep contacts up as you change companies; devote time each month to maintaining your network.
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