Sherry Brooks

Wonderful story this week from Sherry Brooks. A great example of “when one door closes, another one opens.” In February 2012, she had a 28-year career in aviation safety, two degrees, five credentials, and a pending FAA dispatch certificate. At that time she was Director Corporate Safety and Compliance at World Airways. Prior to that, she’d held safety leadership positions at Northwest Airlines.

The first “job” she got was a good consulting contract up in DC. Later she landed a position as a Dispatcher with ExpressJet. She said it was the “hardest, most stressful job that I have ever had in my life.” She worked four days on, three days off, all shifts. In March 2013 she began working a straight shift – overnights from 6p to 4a.

Once onboard with ExpressJet, she was promoted to Manager Internal Evaluation Program (IEP) in Corporate Safety, Security & Compliance. ExpressJet, by the way, is a regional carrier for Delta, United, and American, and they are known as the largest regional carrier in the world. Their headquarters are here in Atlanta.

Here’s the backstory of how she obtained this great job. Sherry, I am so-o-o-o-o proud of you for hanging in there – for doing the difficult things you had to do on your journey, for taking a job that was way below your experience and skillset, and for maintaining a positive, prayerful outlook throughout.

– Dave O’Farrell

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On March 17, I sent an email to the Director of Safety at ExpressJet, Brad Sheehan. Although I had not met Brad, we were connected on LinkedIn, and I had contacted him a couple of months after I lost my job. He even replied to me on LinkedIn, but nothing further.

In my email, I told Brad that I was working as a dispatcher and would like to get back into safety if an opportunity presented itself, and asked if I could forward my résumé to him. He wrote me right back, and said he remembered me on LinkedIn. He said because I already worked for the company, it would be easier to fit me into the safety department now and that he wanted to meet me, but that he was going to be out of town for a couple of weeks. My schedule was crazy, and between Brad’s schedule and mine, we were not able to meet … until …

Mid April: I am driving to work, and I am having a terrible pity party which was very unusual because, I normally prayed all the way to work, for God to help me with my job and thanking Him for having one at the same time, but this day I was feeling sorry for myself. I was early for my shift, so I took my time walking in, and took my time in the ladies room, and then headed up to the 3rd floor where I worked.

When the elevator arrived at the 2nd floor, the door came open, and the custodian was pushing his big garbage bin into the elevator, and I was trying to get out of his way, and greet him at the same time. I looked up and saw two men talking outside of the elevator, one of the men caught my eye, stopped talking, and said “Sherry, and I said “Brad.” I stepped out of the elevator, Brad came toward me, and we started chatting like we were long lost friends. We only knew each other from the LinkedIn pictures. The custodian was still holding the door for me, and Brad told him it was ok to go.

Brad talked so fast. He was so impressed with my résumé and experience. He said “I need you in the department, and we will work something out soon.” I went up a floor to my dispatch job grinning!

Brad and I met the next week, and talked safety philosophy, etc. He said he was working on a position. On April 30th, I met with Brad again, and he told me that he had the Manager of IEP open, and if I was interested he wanted me in the position. He kept saying, “the stars have lined up”! He was so excited to get my expertise, and I was so excited about getting back into my field. The job was posted on May 10, and it closed May 17. Brad called me the same day to officially offer me the job. I dispatched my last day on May 22nd, and began May 28th as Manager IEP with a 62% pay increase! Keep in mind I was making extremely low wages, so I am not even close to my previous salary, however, this is what I also have:
1) A job in my field that I love, 2) a good director, and 3) a good team and company.

The saying, “when one door closes, another one opens” is so true except in my case it was an ELEVATOR DOOR! The fact that the custodian was pushing the garbage bin into the elevator as I got off adds even more serendipity to my story.

Each of my friends and family has gasped when I have told them this story. There is so much detail I could write, but I will spare you.

Dave, I am so blessed. I kept praying and thanking God for every little blessing that came my way. ExpressJet took a chance on me, a newbie dispatcher at age 58, and I will always be thankful for the Director that hired me, and I told him so when he congratulated me. He said “Sherry, I knew when I hired you that you would not be in dispatch long.”

Here’s what you can tell other JobSeekers:

1) Be persistent and never give up; keep praying for God to lead you and thanking God for your blessings. Be prepared and ready! You never know when God is going to put you in the right place at the right time!

2) LinkedIn is an awesome tool! Use it to make connections. I am currently at almost 550, and when I came to JobSeekers I had about 30! LinkedIn helped me get a contract when I started my own business before I got another job, too.

3) A 58 year-old CAN start over and CAN learn new things, even HARD things, and hang in there with the young ones! And sometimes when you start over, it’s at the bottom, but you will not be there long!

4) Losing your lifelong career changes you. You look at the world differently, you see people differently, and you see jobs differently. Everything is not bad; however, it is a very difficult and humbling experience that does leave scars. Some of the friends that you thought were friends do not stand by you and turn their backs on you. However, new friends and acquaintances are made.

5) Pinching pennies becomes a life style, if it wasn’t prior to your “RIF” (reduction in force).

6) God and prayer becomes your “best friend.” And that is where I gained the most, in my faith. I would not wish this experience on anyone, however, if it happens, trust in your faith. God will bless you.

Take care, thank you for all of your help, and God Bless!

– Sherry Gentle Brooks