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2024 Virtual Return to Work Conference, May 14-16

EP 237: How to Encourage the Relauncher in Your Life, with Chad Koenig

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Episode Description

Chad Koenig is a Managing Director with Cushman & Wakefield's Atlanta Office Tenant Advisory Group. His wife, relauncher Kati Koenig, was our guest for the 223rd episode of the 3,2,1 iRelaunch podcast. Kati took a 20-year career break before relaunching her career as a Salesforce Administrator. She is now a Senior Salesforce Business Analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton. In this episode, which is the first of our “The Importance of Significant Others in Relaunching” mini-series, we’ll talk with Chad about how he and Kati navigated Kati’s career break and her return to work.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Today, we welcome Chad Koenig. Chad is a managing director with Cushman and Wakefield's Atlanta office Tenant Advisory Group. His wife, Katie Koenig was our guest for the 223rd episode of the 3,2,1 iRelaunch podcast.

Katie took a 20 year career break before relaunching her career at a consulting firm, focusing on the Salesforce platform. This episode, which is part of our Significant Others mini series focuses on families, friends, children, spouses, and partners of people who are relaunching so we can get their perspective on the transition. Today, we'll talk with Chad about how he and Katie navigated Katie's career break and her return to work. Chad, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Chad Koenig: Thanks for having me Carol.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Now I want to start with a little background and I want to know if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and just bring our audience up to date on what led to Katie's career break.

Chad Koenig: Sure, happy to. I'm originally from the Philadelphia area as is Katie. She grew up in Allentown. I grew up just north of Philadelphia. We both met at Penn State as undergrads in the hospitality school there. And, after graduation, I've always had a passion for skiing, started skiing when I was a little kid, and had the opportunity to move to Colorado after Penn State and teach skiing for a few years in Vail, Colorado. And, Katie was up for the challenge and decided to join me. So we moved there together. We ended up getting engaged in Colorado. We got married in Colorado and, she started a career in the hospitality industry out there.

I was teaching skiing and working different jobs in the summer. And, because of the teaching I was doing and skiing, I had an opportunity through some clients to come to Atlanta and get into the commercial real estate industry. And once again, Katie was supportive and made a pivot from the hospitality industry and came to Atlanta with me after we had been married and, I started in commercial real estate and she started working in marketing for a skincare company.

And what kind of led to Katie's career break was the birth of our first child in 2000. So we moved to Atlanta in January of 1999 and our first daughter was born in April of 2000. So that is what led to her professional career break. We didn't realize it was going to be as long as it turned out to be, but we're grateful.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. Thank you. Yeah, the career breaks always seem to be longer than everyone plans and we hear that I'm very consistently. Katie's actually was 20 years. This was one of our longer career breaks that we know about at iRelaunch. And I want to know, were, did you have conversations with each other about her career break coinciding with the birth of your child and you both knew that was going to happen or what was the, what led up to that and what was the little bit of backstory there?

Chad Koenig: Yeah. Yeah. So I, to be honest, I don't think we really had a discussion around her career break. We had planned on having children.. We weren't planning on starting as early as we did, it wasn't quite part of our plan, God's got a reason for everything. And so we just kinda w we went with it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: All right. Have your first child, Katie's on her career break. Was that, do you remember back that far? It was a long time ago. And was there a transition that you could, that you really felt with both of you? All of a sudden Katie's not working when she was and you're the sole breadwinner. Any conversations or thoughts about that part of the transition?

Chad Koenig: Yeah, like you said earlier, it's hard to think back to that transition. It's yeah. It's, it's, our daughter is going to be, she'll be 22 next month. So it was 22 years ago that this all kind of, obviously we were planning and preparing for it, even though we had our first daughter or than we expected. But there really, I can't recall discussions around the transition.

It just kind of, our daughter arrived and life happens and you just say, okay, this is what we're going to, this is what we're going to do. And at the time, I'm just starting out in commercial real estate and it's a hundred percent commission and we're like, oh my gosh, how are we going to do this?

Because we did what we did land on was, Katie really felt that she wanted to be home with our daughter. And, I tell people it's you never think they're ready for your kids. We really weren't ready financially. But we figured out how to make it work. And, Katie was a superstar from the very beginning of our daughter's first, first daughter arrived.

But again, I can't really think of like transitional conversations, it just happened. And then another child arrived and another child arrived, and you know, her father had health issues and she had health issues. And next thing we know, we look up and 15 years had passed. Fifteen wonderful years, obviously.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, exactly. All right, so let's fast forward now to 20 it's Katie, I don't know. Is it 18, 19 years into the career break? I don't know when the conversations actually started, but when did the conversations start about Katy thinking about returning to work and how she was going to do it after this long career break?

Was it something gradual over time or was it a sudden conversation that you started having a particular day?

Chad Koenig: ..Yeah, so I, I would say it started when our first daughter went off to college, and then, our middle daughter had her driver's license. Our son was starting to get close to high school and we knew that our middle daughter would be taking him to high school.

And so Katie just saw her mom duties starting to become less. And, she's, as you know, not someone to sit still, she's got a lot of skills and abilities and she was looking for what's next? I just remember her saying, she couldn't envision herself just kinda sitting around and doing, I hate to say it, but like doing house related stuff, when the kids aren't here, she was looking for that next chapter.

So that's really how that kind of conversation started.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Now I have to say, because I interviewed Katie. She couldn't be more appreciative of the way that you supported her during, and I guess leading up to her relaunch, that was a huge part of our conversation. And Katie mentioned even that when she was considering relaunching, you were the one that suggested she looked into Salesforce, and Salesforce credentialing as a means of upskilling.

And I'm just curious when that occurred to you and how did that conversation happen and what happened after you suggested it?

Chad Koenig: Yeah. So I guess before I maybe answer why I recommended or suggested Salesforce to her, you touched on a little bit earlier, Katie has been so supportive of what I've done my life from moving to Colorado to then leap of faith into commercial real estate.

I transitioned from one firm to another firm eight years ago. She's been the one who has always been the supporter. If I'm being honest, she carries the load of support for me and our kids. And, I know she's so talented. And, I just felt as like my turn to really lean into her and support her in whatever she wanted to do.

And so I had made the recommendation or suggestion, let me say it that way. Cushman and Wakefield, we use Salesforce as our global CRM. And so it's how I manage my business. I've used CRMs my whole life. Salesforce is what we use at Cushman, and I'm kinda all in on it. So I believe in the platform. And I know how Katie thinks, like she thinks in spreadsheet, she's incredibly good on the computer.

She's got incredible written communication skills, and I just felt like that Salesforce ecosystem would be good, would be really good for her. And it also gives her the ability to work however she wants to work as long as she's got a laptop and she could do it. So that, that's how I ended up suggesting it to her.

And then of course she just took it from there and ran with it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So just for our audience, CRM is...

Chad Koenig: It's a customer relationship management software. So it's how you run your, how most people in sales run their business.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. I think a lot of people know what Salesforce is, but just to define CRM for everyone.

I do remember now speaking with Katie about how she took your suggestion and started exploring. And she had a really good experience with the first course, so she kept on taking the courses, and then that ended up being really the foundation behind her relaunch. I'm curious though about, so that was the up-skilling part, I'm interested in now the actual job search piece of it.

And one of the things that is part of a relaunch and can even be the case when you don't have a career break, is that there's this prolonged job search, there's rejection along the way. And I'm wondering if you have any thoughts or commentary about Katie's job search experience, and maybe some examples of how you supported her during that time.

Chad Koenig: Yeah. So again, Katie, she's very organized. She's, it's funny, if we're going on a vacation, she starts organizing packing and planning, weeks ahead of the vacation. It's the same way she approached this relaunch. And thankfully, when she started this process, a number of years back, we were just in a we're in a different stage of life.

I'd been in commercial real estate for 20 years. We're just coming from a position as a couple and a family. So it did afford her to get organized and figure out how to she want to do this. And to her credit, she got involved with the Salesforce, they had this thing called Trailhead where you can start to learn how to use the platform and get different certifications.

And then she joined Supermoms, which helped get her like organized on what does my resume need to look like and what does this mean? And then she came across your platform and iRelaunch, and that was yet another tool. So she really, she had a system and a plan in place and she executed on that plan.

And then eventually she did start to, to interview like, she's I feel like I've got enough skills now. Maybe I'll try the interviewing thing. And she didn't know if she was going to do contract work or get a full-time job. And so when she started interviewing, she went into it with, she didn't have really anything to lose, and it would just be another chance for her now to learn the interviewing process.

So she, she came from a pretty good, she had a good position to approach it that way and it made her, it just it's kinda the way she went about it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. I have to comment on something you said before, when you said, she had been the supporter of the family for so long and for your career, and you said it was my turn to support her.

It's so interesting to think about it from that perspective, because sometimes we'll hear, and I remember feeling this myself, I'm a relauncher myself. It's my turn to prioritize my career. So the relauncher might be thinking that. You're thinking it's my turn to be the support person, and, I really appreciate you articulating that.

So can you, bring us to the point where Katie actually relaunched and went back to work? What happened in the household during that time?

Chad Koenig: Yeah. So what happened in the household is I had to do a little bit more of the pickups, right? Again, at this point, both of our daughters are now off of the college and our son's in high school.

He's currently a few months away from getting his driver's license and, like we said earlier, it was just really my turn to, just to be more supportive of Katie and to take on some of the things that she would have she just would have done naturally had she not decided to get back into a career.

But I wouldn't say there's been dramatic changes in the house. It's been fun to just have dinner and let her talk about her day and her what she's doing in her career. Because in the past, she was always, what's going on with your business and, she's accelerated so quickly as she's relaunched, cause again, she's just, she's got so many gifts and she's really intelligent. And I think her company sees that and they keep advancing her. So it's fun to have, we talk about just business more, which is neat to do as a couple. Anyway, so that's been one of the changes.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, that's a really interesting part. I remember relaunching myself and, you can never generalize from your own specific experience, but, my husband had also been at his, in his role for over 20 years when that happened. And I remember having this conversation with him because I was going into a really extreme job and I said, at least for the next year, and it wasn't part of a program, it was a long, I relaunched before any, there were any programs or even relaunching was a concept. But I remember saying you have to be the point person for the next year. Like when the school calls and conferences, our kids were ages five through 11, so they were younger.

And he fortunately was in a stable enough employment situation because of his years at his employer, that he was able to take on that. There are other couples where the spouse or partner is not as stable in their career, and so those conversations vary broadly depending on each family's unique circumstance.

But, I love how you talk about how the conversations changed. And, there's something about the relaunch process and being able to have those kinds of conversations as the relauncher where before you were not, that really boost your confidence and changes your perspective of yourself in pretty dramatic ways.

Chad Koenig: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I was going to, as you were talking, I was just, it was making me think just about the process that Katie has gone through and for others that are going to relaunch, who've made that decision. Like I'm going to take a break. I'm going to focus on, for our, for us, it was our family, people may take breaks for other reasons, but there, there is so much potential, I think in so many of these people are making the decision to go back, that the companies that can find those people have the ability to unlock some incredible talent. I just, I've been totally amazed by Katie's ability to consume information. I She's gotten all these different. Certifications and she's SCRUM certified, and she's this, and she's and her ability to absorb all this information, learn new platforms and then use them to the benefit of her company and their client is been amazed.

I said to her at one point, I said, okay, I am so sorry that you took this much time off. You have so much utility and potential. I feel like I took that away from her almost. And of course she's like, no, we are raising a family, it was what we needed to do, is what we agreed to. I'm, again, I'm just so excited to see her to write this next chapter and just release all the potential she's got.

It's fun as a husband to be able to watch your spouse.

Carol Fishman Cohen: We don't often get to hear the perspective that you're bringing us. And we hear it from employers, we hear it from relaunchers, but to hear it from you, where you're having this firsthand look at your spouse's transition back to work and the excitement, the enthusiasm, the rearing to go quality of it. I actually can totally relate to that myself. But, and how that is reflected in how she's not only thrived, but like really succeeded in her role even early stage. So that's really interesting and I appreciate hearing that from you too. As I said, we don't often get to hear that, that perspective. Chad, I'm wondering if you can give us some, give some advice to partners or spouses of people who are relaunching at any stage pre while they're preparing while they've relaunched, after they've been relaunched.

Any comments about that?

Chad Koenig: Yeah. I think by my response is probably from two perspectives, right? I would say to the relaunchers, don't underestimate your ability and, whatever the gap is, whatever you decided to take a break from. And for us, it's the reference is, just, Katie choosing to be home with our kids. Everything she did to raise our children from early ages to volunteering and running booster clubs, all that stuff, like all those skills that she developed, and those are all transferable back in the workforce. And I remember one of the folks that was involved with hiring her said, I can teach you the tactical stuff. I can't teach you the soft skills and how to manage people. And those are things that she just instinctively knows from running our family and being involved. So I think to the relaunchers don't underestimate, don't feel that you're any less going back into the workforce because you've probably gained so much stuff that corporations are craving for.

They can teach you the tactical stuff. They can't teach you the soft skills. And then my second perspective or comment would be to the supporting cast for the relaunchers is don't underestimate how important your support is of your partner who's making this decision to go back and just the constant encouragement.

Cause there is, it is tough and there's self doubt that happens with your significant other who's like, should I really be doing this? And you just need to be the cheerleader. You just need to be the one that says, you totally got this, I believe in you, our family believes in you, go, just go for it. You got nothing to lose. And that encouragement and the cheerleading, I think goes a long way.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That is a fabulous way to wrap up our conversation. And I just hope that family members, friends, the supporting cast, as you called people who are around the relauncher or all listening carefully. Because in the cases where relaunching is taking extra long or there's more rejection having that support and what Chad's talking about, that cheerleading piece of it means so much, and can really get people able to move forward in times where they think their job search is is at a tough point? Chad, I really appreciate you speaking with us and giving us this unique perspective. Thank you for joining us today.

Chad Koenig: Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories.

I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch, and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events, to sign up for our Job Board and access our return to work tools and resources go to And if you liked this podcast, be sure to rate it on apple Podcasts and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Thanks for joining us.

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