After nearly three decades inside Eastman Chemical Company, Roy Austin thought that perhaps he was becoming burned out. As a senior accountant, he was a valued team member, but a number of key opportunities for career advancement had failed to come his way. Who was to blame? Roy decided that he could hold only himself accountable. When a new controllership job opportunity came his way, Roy decided that it was time to apply some of the lessons learned from his earlier mistakes. Join us when Roy shares his career journey from Eastman Chemical to the CFO office of D. J. Powers Company—and beyond.
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Stuck in Neutral
“Earlier in my career, I had this naive idea that if I worked hard and did a great job, somebody would notice me and promote me, and it’s of course important that you do that. But if I’m looking at the resume of two people and they both have the same credentials, the same experience, the same work ethic, but one of them I know personally and I know what their personality is and how they would fit into my department, which one am I going to hire? It’s pretty obvious, and I did not understand the importance of building relationships with people. I just kind of kept my head down and worked hard. I did not really reach my goals in a career. When Eastman Chemical had a reduction in force and I was eligible for their retirement program, I thought, ‘Well, my career is over—all of these people and supervisors here are younger than I am. So I marched off into the sunset, so to speak … and then I got a job opportunity in Savannah.”
“What I liked most about working for a smaller company was the fact that as a controller or CFO you would get involved in everything. At Eastman Chemical, you were three or four years on one desk or assignment and then you would get transferred to another one. Over 29 years, you got a lot of experience, but it took 29 years, and I always felt that in one year of manufacturing as a controller I got more experience than I did in 29 years at Eastman. That was not Eastman’s fault. That was my fault. It was my fault for not understanding how to build a career in a large company. I made some mistakes along the way. I had made a couple of people mad by being a little bit outspoken at times and that didn’t help, but you learn from your mistakes. If you don’t, then that’s an even bigger problem.”