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The Wixii™ Project: Heide Garrigan

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Heide GarriganName: Heide Garrigan

Location:  Colorado

Company:  Pivotal Consulting Inc.

Professional Industry:  Executive Team Coach and Leadership Mentor

Job Title:  Founder & President


“I often share that one’s career is like a marriage, you have to give and take.  It’s a mix of compromise and collaboration. If you are only “giving” then you will become empty and you won’t have the right “mix” to sustain you. … My mindset is to take the time to understand what is requested of you professionally and what you request personally.  Then create your own mix. ” 


Meet our featured Wixii™, Heide Garrigan.  She is 43 and mother to 3 boys, ages 11, 9 and 9.  She studied Communications at Miami University.  She owns her own business, Pivotal Consulting, where she is a leadership coach for both teams and executives.

Heide has a passion for her family, sports, and travel.  She has visited 6 of the 7 continents, and Antarctica is on her Bucket List!


I began my career at Accenture (then Andersen Consulting) straight from under-grad.  I was drawn to the aspect of traveling, working with numerous dynamic people and a variety of Fortune 500 companies.  I figured it would help me determine what function and industry I wanted to focus on.  20 years later, 3 cross-country moves, and 4 sabbaticals I decided I was ready to be my own boss and follow my passion.  I started my own consulting company where I help organizations maximize their people’s productivity and develop their leaders.


I often share that one’s career is like a marriage, you have to give and take.  It’s a mix of compromise and collaboration. If you are only “giving” then you will become empty and you won’t have the right “mix” to sustain you.  I embraced this mindset during my 20 years at Accenture.  There were definitely times when I did not want to work with a particular client or get on the road and travel every week.  Or take conference calls at 5 am and work until midnight to finish a deliverable.  But as I “gave” I also received.  Accenture supported 3 personal moves from NY-CA-TX-CO allowing me to meet my personal life changes and continue growing my career.

During my tenure at Accenture I had 2 maternity leaves, and I also had 2 personal sabbaticals where my husband and I spent 6 months traveling the South Pacific and 2 years later we spent 6 months traveling Europe.  I needed those times to recharge and refocus myself.  I needed to “give to myself” in order to be able to be my best professionally and personally.  When we started our family I took a new role which allowed me to stay off the road and be at home every night.  One year into parenthood I became the test case for part time work and I am proud to say that I maintained a part time schedule for 8 years, was promoted to Director-level during that time, and enabled many other women to achieve part time schedules as well.

My mindset is to take the time to understand what is requested of you professionally and what you request personally.  Then create your own mix.

Work:  how do you “think outside the box” with respect to your work-life potential and opportunities? 

For me, thinking outside of the box, meant leaving a 20 year career at Accenture and starting my own business.  I knew what the next 20 years were going to look like for me at Accenture and I also knew with an 11 year old and 9 year old twins that was not going to be the right mix for me.  It took me some time to acknowledge the fear of leaving the only career I had known.  It took me even more time to identify what my passions were and how to shape that into a new career.  I also sought out mentors and supporters who cheered me on whenever I began to doubt myself.  Overtime I was forcing myself to think out of the box, be courageous, and make changes for me and my family.  Now, after a year of owning my own business I am doing what I love, have gained many new skills, and am excited about future possibilities.

House:  how do you maintain order/status quo and/or how do you “manage it all” just a bit better?

“Be Present” in the activities you are doing.  I know this can be an overused term these days but I truly take it to heart and have to continue working at enjoying the moments I have with friends and family, and not trying to multitask and over-schedule myself.  A year ago I found myself on a morning conference call, cooking breakfast, and packing my kids’ lunches…all at the same time.  One day I happened to sit down with my kids at the breakfast table and they asked what I was doing.  “Eating breakfast with you,” I replied, a little dumbfounded.  “What did it look like I was doing?”  Well, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that even though in the past I thought I was “eating breakfast” because I was in the same room as they were, I really wasn’t present.  I promised myself that I needed to slow down and begin doing activities one at a time, and truly focusing on the moment.  If you need to work, set aside the time and focus on the work task at hand.  If you need time for yourself or with your family, set aside that time and make it just as much of a priority.  I can “do it all,” just not “all at once.”

Self:  how do you strengthen your own identity and not lose yourself in the mix?

“What is your passion?”  “What do you love to do?”  “What do you want to learn or achieve?”  Those are questions I ask my clients and also what I ask myself.  I know how I am best motivated and if I give myself a goal then I will take the time to do the things that will help me achieve that goal.  “Want to run a half marathon?”  Yes, so I found a training partner.  “Want to complete a 7 day, 400 mile bike ride?”  Yes, so I set up a training plan and focused on that goal for 5 months.  “Want to do something fun with your husband?”  Yes, so I bought us dance lessons. My identity as a professional consultant, as a wife, as a mom, and as a friend are all important to me.  Identify goals that strengthen your identity and make them an equal priority with everything else.

Please share specific tips for effectively managing your time and schedule.

  • When I worked in a large corporation I always maintained my own calendar and managed my own travel arrangements.  This may have meant a little more time on my side to do it, but I felt more in control and I could balance professional obligations with my personal commitments w/o ever feeling like I had to justify anything to others.
  • If I had a task to do I scheduled it on my calendar.  If I needed to develop a presentation I would block time on my calendar.  If I needed to fill out expense reports I scheduled 30 minutes during the day to do it.  If I needed to schedule a dentist appointment, I booked 15 minutes on my calendar to complete it.   This helped me avoid having a day full of meetings and where I had to begin “real work” at 8pm.

Please share your favorite efficiencies and timesavers.

  • I write/type everything down: To Do Lists, calendar appointments, or sticky notes on my computer as a reminder.  If it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get done.
  • I keep a pad and pen by my bedside.  This way if I wake up at night thinking about something I need to do I write it down and get it out of my mind.  Otherwise I am up all night worrying about it
  • Every Sunday evening my family sits down after dinner and we review the weekly calendar.  Now the kids specifically ask for this because they want to know what’s planned and have input on activities.
  • We have 2 family wall calendars: a monthly view and weekly view.  These are large white boards in the kitchen which help everyone know what is happening.  It helps answer the constant questions, “What are we doing today?” or “When is X happening?” It’s also a great visual to see when everyone is getting oversheduled!

Is there anything you would like to share about work-life mix?

I continue to share with younger professionals that they should listen to their gut feelings, share their thoughts with others and collaborate on solutions.  When I worked fulltime and my son was 10 months old I knew I didn’t feel right.  I took a chance and approached senior leadership saying I wanted to work part-time even though that was not conventional.  Fortunately I had sought out the right mentors and leaders and we identified a role that would benefit both myself and my employer.  If I had not taken the time to identify my needs, or talk to leadership about it, I may have left the company feeling very negative and would not have given them the opportunity to demonstrate their flexibility.

I worked part-time for the next 8 years and during that time I realized the company valued my years of experience and skills, and that I valued their willingness to try new working models.

Keep the communications open and honest.  Ask yourself, “What does my company need and what do I need?”  Even during those 8 years of working part-time my personal needs changed from working 3 days and having 2 days off, to as my kids got older, working 4 days from 8-3pm.  Ask yourself, “What is the value I bring and how does my needs fit into what is best for the company?”  By having truthful conversations and being open to new ideas, we can all help ourselves find the right mix.


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