STORY UPDATE: shortly after our November issue had gone to press, but past the point where we could make revisions, there was a significant change to one of our articles. Specifically, the subjects of our Leader’s Insight feature – Jennifer Mills and Stephen Duff, Co-CEOs of Precision BioLogic, have decided to move on from their current positions. It was Ms. Mills who precipitated the move.
Speaking on the phone with ABM’s Dawn Chafe, here’s what she had to say about her decision:
“It was a difficult choice, but a necessary one. I thought about it over the summer. I hadn’t made up my mind when the interview took place, or I wouldn’t have done the interview (for Leader’s Insight).
“I have a young family, and my kids are active – which I want them to be. And my parents are getting older. They have some health issues. It changes your perspective of what it means to have it all.
“I never sought to be a CEO, but at the same time I’ve never hesitated to push outside my comfort zone when the opportunity presented itself. The fact that I shared the job with Stephen was one of the more enjoyable aspects of my role over the past year, we had complementary strengths that worked well together.
It’s a demanding position and not a great fit for me at this time. The company has been transitioning. It’s growing, expanding. The job became more of an energy suck than an energy flow. If I’m clear on the company’s vision, that’s exhilarating for me. I thrive on making the vision a reality. But the big picture, visionary, abstract stuff – it’s not as comfortable for me. I can do it, as I did in this position, but it’s not the sort of thing that gets me excited.
“It took me about six months to make this decision. There were always these gremlins popping up, these unspoken expectations from society. Like, what was I thinking, to throw away a promising career with a great company? How could I walk away from this great opportunity?
“I’ve been taking part in a seven-month women’s leadership initiative with Ambir and it made me realize what I needed to thrive, professionally and personally. Once I made the decision, I became very relieved and very grounded in my decision.
“I don’t have a job lined up, though I have had a number of invitations to go for coffee and discuss possibilities. What I’ve told everyone is that I appreciate their support, but I’m taking the month of November off. It’s very difficult for me, but I’m forcing myself to slow down and take my time thinking over my next move. I’m not even going to start looking until January. But I want a career and I expect that within six months, I will have moved on to another position.
“My ideal job would be one where I would be the right-hand of the CEO. I would be the person who makes the vision happen. It will probably be in a smaller organization of 20 to 100 employees. It would be a private company. I’d have a senior leadership role, working with a good visionary leader who needs someone who can makes things happen.
“I didn’t realize this would happen, but Steve’s reaction was to announce that he will be making a shift as well. He doesn’t want to the CEO on his own. He will likely still be involved with the company, but I don’t know what that role will be. It may be as a board member. He may move into an advisory role. That’s a decision he’ll be making in the weeks to come.
“I’m proud of what I accomplished at Precision BioLogic, and I look forward to re-creating some of those successes in my next job.”
November 8 was Jennifer Mills’ last day at Precision BioLogic.