Re-entering the work force & balancing it all |


Michelle Lloyd is a freelance writer and contributor to

Re-entering the work force & balancing it all

07/22/13 11:31

Shana Stephens Plott, of the Johnston Hall area, began working with Coleman Lew in 2011 as a part-time executive search consultant and is now a partner as she helps match leaders to reputable companies. Keep reading to learn some valuable tips for re-entering the workforce and interviewing!

Q. How did you get started with Coleman Lew?

A. After staying home full-time for a couple of years, I was itching to get back to work in some capacity. I had worked in executive search for several years in my BM life (before motherhood) and loved it. I always knew I wanted to return to search at some point, but wasn’t sure it made sense for a mom of three very busy school-aged children. A mutual friend introduced me to Chuck Lew, the founder of Coleman Lew + Associates, and his amazing team - and we instantly connected. Coleman Lew was wonderfully willing to allow me to have a meaningful role within the firm and have the flexibility to be a mom first – home to meet the school bus each afternoon. (We were named one of the top Family Friendly Companies of North Carolina last year.)

Before I knew it, I hit my stride and was off and running as a partner within the firm, working more than full-time, but still usually making it to the bus stop on time. Thank goodness for a supportive husband and great neighbors who fill in on the days I can’t get there.

Q. What all do you do?

A. The greatest thing about search is that it offers the opportunity to juggle a lot of balls, all the time. Our core competency is identifying, evaluating and recruiting leaders. Companies retain us to help them find key executives for their organizations, which is truly a gratifying opportunity.

Q. What types of clients do you generally work with?

A. I, along with my other partners, are search generalists. This means that we do not specialize in one industry or one specific role. Instead, I have the opportunity to work in a wide array of sectors, constantly learning, meeting fascinating people and helping my clients attract the very best talent and leadership to their companies. I’ve recruited corporate CEO’s, school superintendents, crime lab directors, meat specialists, marketing executives, CFO’s and lots more. You name it, I’ve done it, and that’s what keeps it challenging and fun.

Q. How are you personally able to manage work life and home life with 3 children?

A. A committed and wonderfully supportive husband, great friends, my iPhone and a good bottle of chardonnay in the fridge.

Truly, I am learning a lot. I am learning that vacuuming up the dog hair every OTHER day IS ok , my youngest CAN sleep in his school clothes to save five extra minutes (and a whole lot of peace) in the morning, leftovers DO count as a home-cooked meal, and my children will grow up appreciating Mom and Dad as equal co-stars in the crazy game of parenting.

Q. What advice do you have for other moms who are looking to re-enter the workforce?

A. Read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. I wish it had been around when I was thinking about going back to work. Great insight and affirmation for all women, regardless of which path they choose.

Q. What is the best advice for going on an interview?

A. Do your homework so you know enough about the company to ask some informed questions, be yourself and wear a great outfit that makes you feel good. As my beloved grandmother used to say, “if you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you do good.”

Q. Anything you'd advise moms who are looking for a new career?

A. Talk to a bunch of other women. There are some great role models out there who have gone before us, figured it out and lived to tell about it. We need to support one another, share ideas and mentor, both formally and informally. And that bottle of chardonnay in the fridge? Pop it open and share a glass with a friend – works every time.

You can find more info on Coleman Lew at

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