conversations Risk and Reward After a career progression that took her around the globe, Julie A. McLaughlin, ’13 (XP-82), took a leap of faith when she returned stateside to start a job search that ultimately led her to cofounding Vertex Energía, based in Weymouth, Massachusetts. At the 2015 Booth Women Connect Conference, McLaughlin spoke on a panel about encouraging women to take career risks, along with Alyssa Pei, ’02, who had just made her own international move to Toronto as a partner at consulting firm A. T. Kearney, based in Chicago. Here, McLaughlin and Pei continue their conversation and share what they have learned about risk from their own journeys. McLaughlin: A big risk I took was deciding to leave E.ON in 2013 when I finished my executive MBA. My role was centralized back to headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany, and changed from what I’m the most passionate about, which is negotiating renewable deals on the ground. I had a very difficult time finding an opportunity in the United States. Nobody would take me seriously as a candidate from Europe, so I moved back without a job and then started searching. Pei: Did people take you more seriously once you had a US address? McLaughlin: They did. People asked me how I knew I could do deals in New Jersey, for example, which seemed comical in comparison to many of the difficult countries I had operated in. Well, it stands to reason that if I can figure out how to do it in Indonesia, I can figure it out in New Jersey. However, being able to network locally and easily interview in person made the difference. Pei: I think it’s an interesting reflection of what they saw to be risk, though.