Angela Cyrice Dingle & Ex Nihilo Management, LLC
FINALIST: What Else Do I Have to do to Prove Myself?


"What else do I have to do to prove myself?" Angela thought as she walked back to her office after meeting with the president of the company. It had been six months since she joined the Information Technology consulting firm as a Program Manager and felt that she had accomplished a lot in a short period of time. "As soon as I came on board, I jumped in with both feet. I developed a strategic plan for the next twelve months with the intent of increasing revenue and headcount, and positioning the firm for new federal contracting opportunities."

Angela was pleased with the fact that she had been able to exceed the revenue goals and meet the headcount goals ahead of schedule. It wasn't easy convincing a client that it would be mutually beneficial if they signed on for a $1.6 million software development project instead of giving it to a competitor. Angela hired a Project Manager and four software developers to support the project.

With the new project in place, Angela was looking forward to the performance appraisal meeting with the president. She felt the force of his decision to give her a 1.5% raise as if it were a literal slap in the face. A 1.5% raise amounted to roughly .52 cents per hour! To make matters worse, when she asked about opportunities for career growth, the President informed her he would consider promoting her in about three years. As she left the meeting, Angela's first thought was to rationalize his decision. "It's because I'm the new kid on the block". But the more she thought about it, she knew it was time to make another career move.


Angela was 15 years old when she got her first summer job in the Federal Government. She had taken a Business class in High School where she learned to type 70 words per minute, use a copier machine, prepare formal and informal letters, address envelopes, and take transcription. "I felt confident starting the new job because I had marketable skills on my resume." What she didn't know she would soon learn. Angela quickly learned that just because you were hired didn't necessarily mean that the people who worked there wanted you to be there. She also learned that if you didn't ask for an assignment, sometimes you didn't get one. Angela remembers a woman pulling her to the side and telling her she had to be sure to check everything twice to make sure she didn't make any mistakes.

Every year Angela went back to her Business teacher and asked if she could have another summer job. After several successful summers, Angela was offered a stay-in-school position. By the time she graduated high school, she had been offered her a full-time job with a promotion at a government agency - she turned it down to attend college.

After college, Angela did what most college graduates do – she started living with the classified ads and spending every waking moment sending her resume to anyone she thought might be interested in her skill set. However, Angela had a few advantages over her peers. She had completed her Bachelor of Science degree at DeVry Institute of Technology in two years and eight months years by attending year round. The year she earned her Associates' degree she spent the summer as a Computer Aide for the Department of Navy. Now she had marketable skills to add to her resume.

When Angela didn't receive the kind of employment offers she wanted from private corporations, she began applying to Federal agencies. Eventually she applied for a position as a Computer Analyst at the U.S. Secret Service and was hired. There was only one problem – she didn't' have a personnel security clearance, so she was told she wouldn't be able to start right away. That's when she had an "aha moment." She remembered that if you don't ask for an assignment, sometimes you don't get one. So, Angela asked what else she could do while waiting for her personnel security clearance. Because of her clerical experience she was hired into a secretarial pool - a group of secretaries that are essentially "on call" to various departments in the event that the department secretary was unable to work. She was assigned to the Presidential Protective Division.

Within two years Angela had transitioned into Federal contracting and begun to take on leadership roles. "I knew how to ask for work and I understood what it took to get the job done." By the age of 25, Angela had become a workaholic. She would work days, nights and weekends if that's what it took to meet a deadline. It eventually cost her marriage. With two daughters to care for, Angela knew she had to strike a balance between her desire to build a career and the needs of her family.

Professional Issue

Angela's decision to accept a position with this firm had been a strategic one. She had done her homework and knew that an Information Technology (IT) Director's position would be opening soon. This position had also meant an improvement in her quality of life. Reducing her commute to 30 minutes in each direction meant she could get home at a decent hour and spend more time with her daughters.

Angela had left her last management position because she didn't' feel her career was moving in the right direction nor did she feel that she was being properly compensated. She'd had a long commute and sometimes worked long days. It seemed there was always another hurdle to jump. Angela spent the next few days evaluating her options:

Stay with the firm – Angela felt confident that she could position the firm for new contracts because she had been successfully managing federal contracts for the past 10 years. But were there any guarantees that she would be fairly compensated if she made the sacrifice and stayed on board? She had stayed with her last employer for an additional twelve months thinking that if she did just one more thing, she would get the salary and the job title she wanted - but it never happened.

Find another job – This wouldn't be the first time she decided to leave a company after having closed a million dollar deal. It had worked out in the past, but now the IT arena was undergoing a change. Corporations around the world had been downsizing their IT staff. Hardware and software maintenance contracts were being slashed or canceled. Corporations were looking for well educated and certified technology consultants to take them to the next level. Angela had earned a Master's degree in Management Information Systems, but was that enough? The playing field was changing and if Angela wanted to be an IT Director, she might also have to change.

Start her own business – Angela had built a profitable business unit from the ground up at a previous employer and managed over $40 million in contracts. Angela's colleagues and direct reports kept asking her to start a company so they could come to work for her. She had been offered independent contracting opportunities but wasn't quite sure if she had what it takes.

Personal Issue

Every time Angela thought about making a career move, she was faced with the same fears. How would the new career move affect her children? As a single parent, she had sacrificed a lot to ensure that she would be able to care for her daughters and spend quality time with them. Now that they were in high school, she was particularly concerned that she'd be able to continue to provide financial security for her family as well as put the girls through college.

Angela had to choose her options wisely because she didn't want to end up signing on with a firm that didn't have a good leave policy or offer preventative health care for her and the children. If she started her own business, would she really be able to afford the kind of health care she wanted? How much work would it take to be able to provide financial stability to her family? Did she have what it takes to be a business owner? If she took another job, would she have to take on even tougher assignment and work long hours trying to prove herself again? How much time would she have to invest in another degree or certification to get the salary and job title she desired?