How I’m pursuing my dream without giving up my consulting job

I had my first interview with Nordic from a campground in Uruguay. As I tried to converse with my future practice director over the birds singing, a work truck drove by, scraping pieces of rebar along the ground. I looked at the ridiculous situation I was in and thought, “Man, I am never going to get a job with these guys.”

Let me back up for a second. In 2014, after I left Epic, my wife and I took a trip through the western hemisphere. We traveled north of the Arctic Circle and to the southernmost city in the world, hitting 17 countries in 15 months and driving 48,424 miles. We visited a mechanic in every country except Costa Rica (hint: don’t take a vehicle that has seen almost 20 Wisconsin winters on a year-long road trip). 

Artboard 2.pngDuring the adventure, my wife and I discovered that we absolutely love to travel. We love the thrill of waking up and knowing home is wherever we desire. We love meeting people on the road and realizing that the world is full of generosity and kindness. And we love sharing those new experiences with each other. 

As our overlanding adventure was ending, I started looking at consulting firms. I had always wanted to work for Nordic. My former colleagues had always said the best consultants worked there, and I wanted to be one of them. I reached out, scheduled an interview, and drove to the nearest place that had internet access: a campground at the side of the road.

Despite the questionable interview location, my conversation with Nordic went well, and I was excited about the opportunity. But just as my trip was ending and I was preparing for the next step, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive cancer. 

When we heard the news, my wife and I flew back to the United States, and we decided to move in with her parents while her mom went through chemo and recovery. I spoke to Nordic about the situation, and I made it clear that my family had to be my priority. When it came to travel and time away from home, I would have to be selective about the client opportunities I pursued because I could be needed back in Iowa at a moment’s notice.

Artboard 4.pngMy practice director was straightforward that as an hourly consultant, I would have the final say about where I was placed. That reassurance, along with Nordic’s stellar reputation, made the decision for me. In August 2015 I took a position with Nordic and was placed at Bellin Health Systems in Green Bay, working on an optimization project for the N.E.W. Community Clinic providing healthcare to the homeless and indigent of Green Bay.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law went into remission following her treatment, and today you would never know she had been through that experience. My wife and I moved back to Madison, and I settled back into my regular life – never forgetting the support that Nordic had shown me when I presented them with less-than-desirable circumstances.

Our big trip had revealed something important: Our best life was one on the road. While we were happy in Madison, we itched to get back on the open road, where each day brings new landscapes and fresh adventures (and unexpected mechanical issues). Everyone has things in their life that they consider “needs” and “luxuries,” and for many people, needs include a house, two cars, a closet full of clothes, and a cable package. For us, our greatest need is travel – and we’re willing to give up some of the other stuff to get it.

A few months after I moved back, I told my practice director about our new idea: to move into an RV in a few years and travel around the country. I let him know that the RV would have internet access and that I would be available to visit whenever needed, and I asked whether it would be possible to stay with Nordic while pursuing my passion for travel.

His response was simple: “As long as you can do your job well, we’ll support you.”

When I interviewed for a position on Nordic’s Managed Services team, the answer was the same. I would say, “I’m planning to move into an RV in 2018,” and they would say, “As long as you can do your job well, we’ll support you.”

That offer of support has meant so much to me. With Nordic’s backing, I don’t have to choose between a job I love and my personal passion, or ask Bethany to give up on our collective dream. I can wake up every week in a different place and meet people from all over the world. I can use the energy and drive that I get from travel to fuel my work as a consultant and make the world a better place for patients in doing so.

I am incredibly fortunate to live at a time when remote work is possible — and to have a team that recognizes that life extends far beyond the office.

If you’d like to follow us in our travels, my wife and I have blogged about our experience at Nomadizens.

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Topics: Epic Consulting, culture

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