SAF Alumna Tracy Elop reflects on the impact of international exposure on her career

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

By: Kelly Millar

It remains one of the best decisions of our lives.

Referring to her worldwide excursion in 2008, Tracy Elop (MAcc 1989), CEO of Carizon Family and Community Services, fondly recalls her days exploring distant lands with her husband Kevin and three young children.

From a personal perspective it continues to give us a deeper, more compassionate understanding of ongoing world events. From a professional perspective, the “reset” that came from the trip put both Kevin and I on career trajectories (for the better) that neither of us had envisioned prior to the trip.

The decision to embark on the 15 month long journey (June 17th 2008 – August 31st 2009) was based largely on their desire to spend more time with their children while sharing unforgettable experiences like “watching a beautiful African sunset, experiencing the Taj Mahal, and floating down the Mekong River in Cambodia.” 

Tracy elop sitting on chair.It also challenged Elop to move out of her comfort zone. Admitting that it’s easy to settle into a routine, “which can easily turn a career into just a job”, Elop says that it was “somewhat uncomfortable” knowing that she would return home unemployed.  However, it turned out to be the “clean sheet” needed to move her in the direction of her current role as CEO, a path that she says “was not really contemplated prior to our trip”.

Even now, nearly a decade after returning home from their global adventure, Elop believes her firsthand knowledge and worldly insights has contributed to a more “expansive frame of reference” that has inevitably made her a “better CEO”.

When asked if she could have experienced the same effects or benefits by any other means, she summed up her response in one word “no”.

The value of “international exposure” a person can gain through travel is something Elop encourages others to seek, especially SAF students.

In fact, she advises students to fight against that inner voice that discourages them from going abroad and instead, suggests opening up to the “possibilities and opportunities” that await them.

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