Celebrating 15 years in my adopted hometown of Austin.
By Sharon Munroe
In May 1997 I came to Austin for the first time. My only other Texas experience was at the huge and sprawling DFW Airport. Yes, I thought all Texans had thick accents and wore cowboy boots and hats daily. Stereotyping is easy for a native New Yorker! Fortunately I had lived in the midwest and west prior to this time and did not stand out as not being from here. I was open to new ideas!
My trip to Austin was for a job interview with Dell. Then the undisputed leader in selling computers via the Internet and I was to interview for a new marketing role on a new team called Dell Online. The ride in on Interstate 35 up to Round Rock was unimpressive. One could say it still lacks character but has certainly grown with a great deal more density - more people, more shopping centers and certainly more traffic. (Let’s not digress and discuss the state of Austin’s roadways.) And yes, it was hot. Like fry-an-egg on the pavement hot, not unlike today at 92 degrees.
Dell and my prospective team were impressive go-getters. The brand-new role was ideal for a computer marketer with a bug for all things new - e-commerce was hot (and one might say, still is). It was a dream job in many ways. Now what to do?
Here was my to-do list:
1) Convince my then husband that I had to go and that he would be fine while I tried it out;
2) Quit my job with Toshiba America Information Systems (the easiest task as my former boss Rene Ward hugged me with a hearty congratulations and joined Dell some 6 months later as I recall);
3) Find an inexpensive apartment that took dogs;
4) Convince my dean and advisor in my Executive MBA program to let me do distance learning and complete my degree, before distance learning was really invented; and
5) Move and get ready to start work in 3 weeks - June 9, 1997.
Check. Check. Check. All completed 15 years ago this week!
I never looked back. Southern California was in my rearview mirror. I could always visit my friends and family. I liked to travel.
Austin quickly became my adopted hometown.
- I like its eclectic, quirky nature best with unique local restaurants and shops.
- I value the progressive thinking that only a town with a huge university really provides. (Yes, it’s a true blue city in a big red political state.)
- People here are from everywhere, domestically and internationally, and I don’t ever feel like an outsider. (Many of my good friends and colleagues are from all over the U.S., plus the U.K., France and India.)
- I like the business climate, filled with smart, educated and entrepreneurial-minded professionals.
I left my role at Dell in the dot-com boom and continued to work in my newly chosen field of marketing research, with a specialization in online research. I worked for large companies based elsewhere for some 10 years from my home office.
Despite frequent job opportunities on both coasts, I stayed here and connected with the community through my Dell alumni network and my ongoing volunteer work with the Assistance League of Austin in the well-loved Thrift House.
In late 2010 while considering my next career move, I sat in my coworking space and found myself motivated to do something very connected with my adopted hometown. I established Little Green Beans to provide a unique boutique for eco-friendly, gently used children’s and maternity items. I’ve been told that I’ve created a community store and get great feedback on our For-Benefit mission and being a part of the new ChangeMyTown.org.
We give back in more ways than one. It connects me with other families, which I find very rewarding as a mom raising young children.
In 2011 I was recruited to help start a new and innovative market research agency, ReconMR. Our current ad campaign in Texas CEO says it best (see below). Sums it up well. I have a dynamic team and the potential is a big as the Texas sky.
My career experience and quality of life are second to none.
So cheers to Austin and at least 15 more action-packed years. My youngest child is just 8 months old and as the expression says, you’d “have to pry me out of here.”