Changing course can often lead to unexpected rewards

It may be true that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But life is rarely so simple. More

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Changing course can often lead to unexpected rewards

Posted 5/28/12

It may be true that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But life is rarely so simple.

This year’s businesswomen honorees provide ample proof that taking a detour can lead to the greatest of rewards. Take the 2012 Career Achievement award winner, Merrill W. Sherman, for instance.

Sherman is the co-founder, and former president and CEO of Bank Rhode Island. By teaming with Malcolm G. “Kim” Chace III to create Bank Rhode Island in 1996, she has built a legacy that can never be challenged, but one she never set out to make.

Trained as an attorney, Sherman was open to new challenges, and in banking she found her calling. First with Eastland Financial, then with First National Bank of Vermont and finally with Bank RI, she helped repair or build organizations that needed not just some TLC, but a shrewd mind for business.

Despite her leaving Bank RI earlier this year following its sale to Brookline Bank, Sherman is far from done with her career. She has been and still is involved in a number of philanthropic roles, proof that being on a board is far more than an honorary position. And as a special master, she is helping the community work its way out of the foreclosure mess, repairing what is still very much a broken system.

You’ll find other examples of successful executives switching course in this issue as well: Maria Gemma, founder of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, actually began in real estate. Jacquelyn Tracy, partner at Mandel & Tracy, originally intended to go into sales. And revenue coach Kristin Zhivago began in the high-tech industry before making a switch.

Pursuing “the road less traveled” gets leaders out of a comfort zone, while helping them gain skills they would not otherwise develop. And as you’ll see in this issue, our awardees have done just that – with stellar results.


Mark S. Murphy


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