November 2021 SECOND ACT OF THE MONTH AWARD
Each month, we give the 50PlusToday SECOND ACT Award to an individual who made an intentional decision to change gears in this phase of life. It’s our goal to recognize and support people who reinvented themselves at age 50Plus and we choose recipients who are creative, innovative and inspiring to others. Their pivot might involve a new career, business, community effort or lifestyle. A successful, happy and meaningful life means different things to different people; reading what others did might start you thinking about your next journey! The bottom line is that your second half of your life can be as good as, if not better than, the first! We hope to inspire our readers with success stories from others. (Is there someone you know that created a wonderful second act that you would like to nominate? Complete this form to submit their name for consideration!
The recipient for November 2021 is Stephanie Newman
Stephanie Newman is the Founder and President of SVN Legal Search Group LLC, an entrepreneurial venture she started in January 2020 after working for 21 years for a Fortune 500 company. She is also a passionate advocate for disability and inclusion policies in schools and the workplace.
50PlusToday asked Stephanie questions about why and how she chose to make her career change. Here’s what she told us:
What did you do before starting your entrepreneurial journey?
SN: I worked in legal staffing and recruiting for 21 years, with the same Fortune 500 company the whole time. I survived numerous mergers, re-brands, org changes etc, etc. For those in the corporate world you know that making it through 20+ years of corporate changes is an accomplishment in itself!
|My oldest son is autistic, so the changes associated with the pandemic were especially difficult for him. And during that time, my mother was quite ill and suddenly in need of long-term care. I decided to put my business on the back burner until 2021 to focus on my family. By early 2021 we started seeing glimmers of a non-pandemic world and I began to feel mentally strong and ready to move forward with my business. I officially launched in April of this year and it’s been fantastic! Having that time with my family and reconnecting with myself helped me see my life and my business from a more balanced perspective.
Tell us about what you are doing now (and for how long)
SN: I took a lot of time (years, in fact!) to make the decision to leave my company and launch my own recruiting firm. When I finally decided to take the leap it was January 2020. Two months later the world was hit with a global pandemic! The challenges at that time felt insurmountable. However, I never second-guessed my decision.
Nothing about the pandemic was ideal, however taking the leap at that time gave me the flexibility and mental space to be present and supportive of my family throughout the pandemic. With both my kids in High School, I needed to be there for them. Virtual learning was quite an experience! My oldest son is autistic, so the changes associated with the pandemic were especially difficult for him. And during that time, my mother was ill and suddenly in need of long-term care. I decided to put my new business on hold so I could focus on my family. By early 2021 we started seeing glimmers of a non-pandemic world and I began to feel mentally strong and ready to move forward with my business. I officially launched in April of this year, and it’s been fantastic! Having that time with my family and reconnecting with myself helped me see my life and my business from a more balanced perspective.
What passion led you to start this new endeavor?
SN: I truly love the recruiting business, there is a natural entrepreneurial edge to this business, which is the perfect match for me. I specialize in recruiting lawyers for law firms and corporate legal departments, I am not a lawyer and don’t have a legal background. Truth be told, I sort of fell into legal recruiting. When I was starting my career, 20 years ago, I knew I was interested in recruiting, but at that time the legal aspect was foreign to me. I answered an ad for a legal recruiter, and it turned out the women who owned the company were female entrepreneurs, both lawyers, who left the field of law to launch their company. I immediately knew I wanted to be part of their team! They gave me a chance and hired me. I learned so much about the legal business and entrepreneurship from them. Eventually they sold the business to a large corporation. Before selling, they named me as Executive Director, and I went on to have a successful career with the acquiring company. I never lost my entrepreneurial spirit and I credit that spirit for my success over the years.
How does your age and experience help in your success?
SN: I developed a deep understanding about career motivation from my two decades in this business. I also am genuinely interested and enthusiastic about helping with the success of law firms. Understanding what motivates someone to potentially make a career move and the inner workings of a prospective employer is key to a successful match. It took time, patience and hard work – and lots of mistakes along the way – to build that level of understanding and expertise.
What unique skills did you have from previous jobs/businesses/lifestyle that help you in this new position?
SN: I have 2 wonderful sons, one of whom has autism. His neuro differences broadened my perspective of the world, and he provides me with unique insight into the importance of diversity and inclusion both in our society and the workplace. It is a fact that conversations and initiatives around diversity and inclusion in schools and the workplace overlook individuals with disabilities, though likely unintentional. Because my career is such a rewarding part of my life, I often think about my son’s future career opportunities. Employment prospects look very different for autistic individuals. An estimated 50-75% of autistic adults in the U.S. are unemployed, which is a shockingly high percentage. Given my personal connection to autism, I felt compelled to try to use my background in recruiting and employment to help make a positive difference. I volunteer with Autism Speaks and with them, host lunch & learns for my law firm and corporate clients about the benefits of hiring individuals with autism and other disabilities. One of the goals for my new business is to find new ways to work with the autism community to help make employment connections. My son worked for me over the summer (unpaid) doing data entry. He was an outstanding employee!
|Take some time and space to self-reflect, be honest with yourself and listen to your heart. Then, trust yourself and go for it!
What advice would you give someone in this age group searching for their meaningful second act?
SN: Take some time and space to self-reflect, be honest with yourself and listen to your heart. Then, trust yourself and go for it!
Three random facts about Stephanie:
- I love Netflix! My husband and I love to watch new series’ together – it’s one of our favorite things.
- I love Disney… well, I love that my kids love Disney (LOL). I get a lot of joy out of how much they enjoy our annual trips there.
- I have 2 dogs that I love, they are the daughters I never had… Maxine and Winnie
“The Way To Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing.” Walt Disney
About Stephanie Newman
Stephanie is the Founder and President of SVN Legal Search Group, a boutique search firm focused on recruiting lateral associates, counsels, and partners for law firms and corporate legal departments. She is also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, and an active volunteer at Autism Speaks.