Callaway Golf company. The NFL job came along at a time when he was needing a change. “I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” says Haynes, now 49. “This is it. I see myself as a change agent. I have a great opportunity to make some positive changes in people’s lives. A lot of guys go to college just to get to the pros or to play college sports. If we could get those guys to value education, they could have a different life. There’s a perception that athletes make so much money, they don’t need to finish their degree. I played for a long time, I made more money than the average person ever will, and I know how wrong that perception is.”
THE DAY I DOWNSIZED MYSELF
Pamela Neferkara U.S. Retail Presentation Director, Nike Inc.
In 1997, Pamela Neferkara was the quintessential high achieving corporate professional, making good on all of the promise highlighted ten years earlier when she was featured as one of “Ten Young Achievers” in Ebony magazine. As a category director of personal care products for Bristol-Myers Squibb Products in New York City, Neferkara managed the day-to-day operations of a $170 million brand portfolio. She led a marketing group of six and a cross-functional senior management team of 25. The next logical step for the alumnus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and of Syracuse University in upstate New York, was vice president and she knew it. She’d been working toward it for a decade. Then something changed. In fact, in rapid succession, several things changed.
“The decision was made to divest one of the brands I was responsible for, and my boss asked me to think about how I would reorganize the marketing group,” says Neferkara. “Everything came together in that moment. I thought about it and recommended that they eliminate my position. Why? It was the right thing to do. If anyone else had looked at it, they would have come to the same conclusion. I probably would not have seen the possibility of my l
eaving had I not been, in the back of my mind, thinking I needed a change. As category director, I had a lot more exposure to VPs and upper management than I had [earlier at Nike. Becoming a VP] was the next step for me and, from a skill set and capability standpoint, there’s no question I could have done it, but I started to question whether that was the lifestyle I really wanted.” She realized that the answer was no.
Neferkara was asked to stay and manage the divestiture program, and was given a lucrative severance package that enabled her to take a year off from working. “That year was a critical one in my life,” she says. “That year gave me perspective. I was so focused on my corporate life that I didn’t really understand the rest of my life. People talk about work/life balance and I really had very little sense of what any of