2014 Eureka! Leadership Institute Mentor: Kathy Gould

Kathy GouldBorn in Santa Barbara, I moved to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada at age 12 and spent school years in Brandon and summers in California from 7th grade through getting my BA from Brandon University.

After graduating from BU I went directly to library school at USC mainly because I wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up and thought an MLS would allow me to support myself through further graduate study. I discovered that my path was no clearer with an MLS...so I joined the Peace Corps, spent a very brief stint in Micronesia, got a stress-related illness, came back to California, picked up the pieces of my life, and got a job as a Reference Librarian at the Pasadena Public Library.

I loved being a public librarian but when offered a higher-paid position at a start-up technology company I went for the money. After about 18 months the company crashed and I was again at loose ends. I had also recently married, and again was not sure about what I wanted to do with my career.

Fate intervened when Don and I met the head of an Australian aluminum company and were invited to go to Australia to work on a large computer system project. After three years I joined the management development program and spent two years as the head of HR at a smelter in Tasmania, and then two years as the manager of an aluminum casting facility on the Queensland coast. With no training or experience in these fields, I was forced to learn to trust staff members who did have the technical expertise. My Australian colleagues also taught me that no one and nothing is so important or serious that you can't poke fun at them/it - including yourself.

In 1996 I was hired by ARCO Coal as HR Manager at an underground coal mine in Central Queensland. It was a difficult work and labor relations environment (the workforce went on strike to protest my hiring!) and I was stretched to the limits of my abilities, but learned a lot about myself and about leadership. Don was hired as the Shire (county) Librarian and we made good friends and enjoyed living in a small country town on the edge of the outback.

In 1998 we reluctantly moved back to the US to be closer to family. I took a job as Vice President –Corporate Systems (including corporate HR, Executive Compensation, IT, External Relations, Legal and Audit) with Commonwealth Industries, a manufacturing company in Louisville, Kentucky. It was another opportunity to learn new skills and I got a great insight into the workings of corporate America at an executive level, but there were many things that challenged my personal values and the stress was high.

In 2003 I resigned and we moved back to California planning to take a six-month sabbatical before looking for work, preferably in the non-profit sector. Instead I saw the posting for the PVLD Director's job the first week we were back and applied on a whim. I never thought I would be hired since I hadn't worked in a library since 1988..but here I am in the best job of my entire career, and living proof that "career planning" is an oxymoron!