My Career Journey with Lydia Hughes-Evans

I am so excited to have Dr Lydia Hughes-Evans be a guest blogger for Futureproof your Career. In this post Lydia shares her career journey with us!

Dr. Lydia has 18+ years of experience walking alongside organizations and individuals on their pathways to success, through her breadth of experience in the education, non-profit, and business sectors. She has exercised her entrepreneurial muscles as the Founder & CEO of Pure Momentum Consulting, LLC for the past 15 years, where she provides non profit management and operations support, with a strategic focus on Implementation. She served on the Board of Directors for World Hope International (2018- 2020), and has worked in administrative and departmental leadership roles of several non-profit agencies. Lydia has a BA in English and Psychology from Maryville University in St. Louis, MO, her MA in Education (Instructional Leadership), and her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership, from Argosy University.

Connect with Lydia on LinkedIn


Let’s go All the way back! Okay, not that far, but at least back to 7th grade, when my Dad took me to have an Aptitude Test done. An Aptitude Test gives you an outline of some of your intrinsic skills, talents, and preferred interests. Nowadays, there are many of these tests available online, but at that time, I had to actually go to a testing center, and have the test administered by a proctor.

The results said that the perfect career for me would be as a Teacher, a Social Worker, or a Mental Health Therapist. Armed with my new knowledge, my 12 year old self made my official career declaration to the world: I will become a high school English teacher!

My career journey had begun! Little did I know how it would actually turn out! LOL 😊

I kept my English Teacher career goal straight through to college as an undergraduate. My declared major as a Freshman was English and Education. I loved my English courses, as we deep-dived into analysis and debate on classical pieces of American and World Literature. But I had an aversion to the Education theories and philosophies that were taught in that department, as they seemed very far away from my actual experiences of teaching and learning to date! (Yes, I was a bit arrogant when I was younger.) So I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, and a double major in English and Psychology.

I then moved 2,000 miles away, from St. Louis, Missouri, to Oakland California, upon graduation. There was literally no “job” that I could get with my English degree by itself, as I didn’t also have a teaching credential, and my Psychology degree alone had few employment opportunities as well. But I was able to use my Psychology degree to obtain employment as an entry- level Counselor in an adolescent drug treatment program – this began the progression of the branch of my career in the nonprofit sector.

The challenge again was the pay.  I knew that I would have to go back to school to increase my earning potential, so after taking some Masters level courses in Counseling Psychology and Forensic Psychology, I went back to what I just KNEW would be my winner, and got a Masters Degree in Education (Instructional Leadership)- and this time with a K-8 California State teaching credential! I had learned my lesson from the last time! LOL! Also, in the midst of getting my Masters degree in 2006, I actually started my business. It started as a tutoring business for K-12 students and adult ESL, out of personal necessity. I quickly grew to love life as an entrepreneur, and my love for problem solving led me to dabble in helping small business owners with their organizational challenges as well- this began the progression of the branch of my career in the entrepreneurial, small business, and education sectors.

I’m sure you’ve figured out the pattern by now: 2 branches, but no tree trunk! I still wasn’t happy, and was probably more confused than EVER as to what I actually wanted to “be”.  And I knew I had to make another Pivot:

  • As I began student teaching, substitute teaching, and permanent placement teaching, oftentimes in impoverished school sites and districts, it became more and more clear to me that as an Introvert, I couldn’t maintain that grind for the next 30 years…
  • On the non profit side of things, I didn’t fair much better because my Psychology degree alone would never allow me to make any relevant money in the field, even though I had extensive work experience and upward mobility in this area.

So, you guessed it: I went back to school…. Again…. LOL! Rather than getting a 2nd Masters degree, I was introduced to a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership by a very intuitive admissions counselor. As I began to matriculate through the program, I finally had my BIG Career Ah HA Moment:

No matter what setting or job role you placed me in, be it a classroom, entrepreneurial endeavor, small business, or non profit agency, my focus was always on Systems, Staff, and Sustainability.

No matter the actual workplace setting, I asked these questions a LOT:

  • Why do we do it this way?
  • How can we be more efficient?
  • Why is staff morale the way it is? How can I change that?
  • What are the long-term impacts of the decisions that we’re making today, for everyone involved?

Well, after completing my Doctorate in 2016, I pivoted (and renamed) my business for a third time- to provide Management and Operations support to non profit agencies, with a focus on Organizational Development and Strategic Implementation, and Executive Coaching. I knew the internal workings of nonprofits like the back of my hand, as I had worked in so many, and in just about every role. Also, I provide Coaching support for Career Pivoters, and Entrepreneurial Spirits like myself!

I’ve finally found my Career Tree Trunk- the place where my branches, intrinsic gifts, talents, preferred interests, skills, experiences, education, and personality can all come to bear- the place where I can make a small, and hopefully positive impact on the world around me. Turns out, nothing was wasted after all. Everything had its time, and its place, to get me to where I needed to be- Right here, right now.

My advice to anyone who is looking to make a career or business pivot is to:

  • Identify your Motivated & Transferable skills. In case you couldn’t decipher it from my Journey, a few of mine are: Leadership, Mentor, Synthesize, Initiate Change, Analyze, Teach/ Train, Observe, etc.  Here’s a link to a great website to find yours! The Knowdell Motivated Skills Card Sort (Physical and Online Version) (careerplanner.com)
  • Once you’ve identified your Motivated & Transferable skills, you will probably be able to see that the jobs/ business endeavors/ volunteer opportunities/ hobbies that you most enjoy utilize a larger number of those skills, simultaneously.  Therefore, when you’re searching for a new position or business venture, choose one that allows you to use 75%+ of your Motivated & Transferable skills- most of the time! That will get you much closer to your Passion, your Purpose, and your Peace.

Above all, I pray that my story brings you HOPE 😊

Happy Travels,

Dr. Lydia

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