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Can letting go help you get ahead?

Jessica (Begen) Galica, MBA ’16

February 28, 2024
Jessica (Begen) Galica, MBA ’16
Courtesy Photo

In her work as an executive coach, strategy leader, and author, Jessica (Begen) Galica, MBA ’16, is redefining workplace success for women. Her book Leap: Why It’s Time to Let Go to Get Ahead in Your Career reframes hard-charging burnout culture and argues that purpose and intention are more important than ambition at all costs. The book profiles women who’ve shed workplace norms to find fulfillment and satisfaction.

Since college, Galica has been challenging expectations about women and their careers. As an undergraduate American studies major at Georgetown University, she examined archetypal portrayals of working moms across media for her thesis. At MIT Sloan, she led the first study comparing rates of students’ class participation by gender—proving her hypothesis that men were more likely than women to speak up in quantitative courses.

Galica has worked in strategy roles at Apple, Bain & Company, and the software firm Mendix. But like many women, she struggled with work-life tension when she became a mom. During the pandemic, she began to question everything, from gendered corporate norms to the definition of workplace success.

As she faced this personal reckoning, Galica reached out to other women for informational networking and support. She discovered that many peers felt similarly and were quietly asking themselves the same big question: What was their purpose? 

“There were so many people, in particular women, at this season of life—10 or 15 years into their career—thinking about how their career worked with their broader life, with changes such as becoming a parent or thinking about caregiving for their own aging parents,” she says.

Those conversations created the foundation for her book, for which she interviewed more than 150 women about professional pivots. In 2020, she also developed a coaching business to help women at similar crossroads abandon “stale and rigid” narratives around work. 

“There’s this feeling that the only way to get ahead is to put your head down, lean in, keep your foot on the pedal, never take chances, and never make any jumps. In reality, so many women I profiled actually let go of that path, and often those choices actually catapulted them into more success,” she says. “We’re at a transition point where people are beginning to move from thinking that your life has to fit around your career and starting to embrace the idea that your career should be fitting into your life. It’s a radical change.” 

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