I had the great pleasure of meeting Mike Connolly, Tiffany & Co.’s Treasurer, at last year’s AFP Annual Conference. While Mike had some fun questioning my lack of Tiffany's jewelry for the day, he also shared a compelling story about how he found his way to becoming Treasurer of such an iconic brand. One might think that the road to becoming Tiffany’s Treasurer is one filled with ladder climbing through the finance world, but Mike proved that sometimes taking the road less traveled, takes you exactly where you need to be - with a lot more sight-seeing along the way.
Mike graduated with a BA in Accounting and Economics and quickly realized that while he was done learning from teachers and textbooks, he still had quite a bit of learning left to do. So he did what any logical recent Accounting and Economics graduate would do - headed to San Francisco to live on his brother’s couch and work with his brother as a doorman at the Cliff House Restaurant.
When I asked Mike about his experience arriving in San Francisco, he said, “Growing up in Connecticut, living in Washington D.C. and then going to the microcosm of the United States was eye opening - the whole world was represented; every culture was there. The smells, the tastes, the colors, the ocean - my life had become a sensory overload.”
Mike soon got used to the vibrancy of the city and after going places, meeting people and experiencing all that San Francisco had to offer, he realized that he still didn’t quite know what he wanted to do. He did however, know that if he could move across country with only the promise of a couch to sleep on and a summer job, he could still find his life’s passion and success - simply along another road.
After a fun-filled San Francisco summer, Mike followed his girlfriend (now wife) to New Jersey where she was pursuing a career in education. Mike followed suit and taught high school for a few years, worked in varied industries from pharmaceuticals to property management and eventually found his way back to tax, accounting, risk management and economics - which he realized was where his true passion laid. 25 years later, he’s still at Tiffany & Co. and enjoying every step it took him to get there.
To me, the moral of Mike’s story is that life is what you make of it. We all question our career paths and our decisions and wonder if we're heading in the right direction, but the best thing you can do is enjoy the journey and learn as much as possible from every stop along the way.