Copied with permission from the Preface to the book Running for Office, Getting yourself elected to the career you really want by Mary Anne Gale with Shelley Cowan
Continued from Work and Life: Inseparable
Twelve years and three children later, I had served in a number of business and technical roles at the Cheboygan plant. My mangers told me that, if I wanted to continue with P&G and reach my goal of becoming a plant manager, I would have to accept a position in another location.
But relocation posed a significant problem for my marriage. By 1985, Bob [my husband] had left teaching for a career in real estate; we owned properties throughout northern Michigan. He would have to sell everything and start over, which wasn't practical. He didn't want to give up his career any more than I wanted to give up mine. Having already been married for a number of years, Bob and I had a strong relationship. We respected each other's professional aspirations; we also knew how much work it took to balance our careers with our desires for a strong, connected family. After much deliberation, we agreed to try a dual-location marriage.
I moved to Georgia with the children, nearly one-thousand miles away. From that point on, we spend a significant portion of our income making this arrangement successful. I hired a full-time nanny in Georgia. We visited as often as possible, spent holidays together, and the children spent summers in Michigan. It was difficult, but we made it work.
After two years in Georgia, I transferred to a paper manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania, where I became P&G's first female plant manager. In 1994, I moved into a corporate role at Procter & Gamble's headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was named the first female vice president in P&G's manufacturing organization.
As one of the few women managers in P&G's manufacturing organization for many years, I had become an advisor and mentor to P&G colleagues throughout North America. When I moved into a corporate position, I begane to view my mentoring role from a different perspective. That's when the idea for the book Running for Office, Getting yourself elected to the career you really want started to take shape.
In 2003, after thirty years with Procter & Gamble, I was planning my retirement. I wanted to begin a second career as a motivational speaker, so that I could share my ideas with professionals across the US. But just before my retirement, my boss asked me to take on one more assignment - this one in China.
I would be the first woman, in fact the first person of either gender, to design P&G's supply chain for all of Asia. In this role, I would manage expansion in P&G's fastest growing region, oversee the activities of more than half of Procter & Gamble's Asian work force, and be accountable for a significant and growing portion of the company's capital assets.
Bob and I assessed the impact on our personal lives: our three children were in their twenties and well on the way to establishing their own careers. Our marriage had successfully weathered the dual-location challenge for many years. And by that time, most of Bob's real estate investments involved summer rentals; he would be able to join me in China for nearly half of each year. I made the move.