Susan Connolly always knew being a lawyer was a possibility—even in high school. Deciding to follow that path, she attended law school at Dalhousie University and was called to the bar in 2005. Since joining Stewart McKelvey in 2007, she’s spent the last nine years working as a corporate commercial lawyer.
That was up until late 2014, when Susan decided to take a giant leap of faith, leaving the private practice behind and landing her the position she sits happily in today as Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Legal at University of Prince Edward Island.
The decision to make such a career leap didn’t come lightly to her, though. She’d become incredibly skilled at practicing law and had the confidence, which allowed her to feel capable and deliver results. Inevitably, leaving that behind would be hard.
When Susan first started working in the law industry, she says she didn’t encounter a lot of women who had been in their profession for a long period of time. Of the few who had, however, she watched them very closely, and learned as much from their actions as she did from their words.
“The misconception that you can graduate from law school and get an amazing job and have a lucrative career right out of the gate is false,” she explains. “It isn’t a ‘slam dunk’ you have to define yourself—work to learn your community and clients and the kinds of services that are needed.”
One of the biggest lessons she says she learned was not to be too quick to speak—or, as she says, “be quick to think, but slow to talk.”
It’s this kind of approach that has made Susan the success she is today, and her new position offers her significant opportunity to interact with people and solve problems—two things she says she genuinely enjoys doing.
And today, as a mother of two young children, Susan believes there’s an incredible value in having her children see her go to work every day to a job she loves. And like many other women, motherhood and her career are two defining elements that require balance in her life.
“You want to do your best at both, but ultimately what you have to do is do your best at managing both job and motherhood. When at work, be at work. When at home, be at home.”
“There is nothing more compelling to you when pursuing a goal than seeing someone who looks like you or who you can relate to, do it. I think that’s important in law, in business and in life.”