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If the Shoe Fits, Boomerang


Anna loved working at Converse. She was comfortable, challenged, recognized and high-performing (not to mention the recipient of the occasional Chuck Taylor). She had no plans to leave, until the company moved from North Andover to Boston, nearly quadrupling her commute time. Converse encouraged their employees to come along, but with two young kids and family down the street, this wasn’t feasible for Anna. She spent two months commuting to Boston, spending almost as much time in the car as in the office. It was, in her own words, “hell.” Incentives like working from home one day a week and paying for half of commute costs couldn’t make up for the loss of time (or her mind).

Converse knew they would lose people, but because their move was to Boston, they had access to a whole new pool of young talent. Said Converse CEO Jim Calhoun, “This wasn’t a decision about leaving any place; it was a decision about, when we looked around … what’s best for your company in terms of growing in the future.”

Once Anna made the decision to leave, her first phone call was to fellow footwear giant–and her former employer–Timberland.

timberland.jpgAnna had always kept in contact with her colleagues at Timberland. Monthly dinners with friends and an open invitation to the annual Halloween party made her feel like a part of the community long after she left. Timberland hadn’t lost sight of her either: during her six years at Converse, Anna received several calls asking whether she would be interested in coming back. At the time she was going through a divorce and wasn’t in the market for a career change, but after the Converse relocation, she felt differently. Anna made the first move: spoke to her old manager, interviewed, and was hired a week later. “I was interviewing at Cole Haan and talking with Bauer at the same time, but I really wanted to go back to Timberland because I knew the place, the people and the culture,” she says. Thus, a boomerang was born.

The first day Anna walked in the building on her second tour of duty, she already knew half of the people, not to mention the technology, the language, the product and the culture. A quick refresher on new programs, product lines and policies and she was ready to hit the ground running. “Honestly it’s like I never left. I jumped right in and started working.” Every employer’s dream.

The Timberland network has behooved her personal life, too: a blind date with a Lead Product Engineer turned into a happy long-term relationship.

Anna left Converse in great standing, attends alumni gatherings and keeps in touch with her former manager. “Who knows,” she says, “maybe when the kids move out I’ll head to the big city and boomerang again!”

 

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