Welcome to Trading Places, a small-business series which takes a look at entrepreneurs who have successfully transitioned from working in the corporate world to founding their own business. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please email me.
For the first 20 years of her career, Lynn Toomey jumped from one high-tech start-up to another, gradually taking on more and more responsibility in the networking space and eventually landing the role of marketing director at 3Com ( COMS). As director, Toomey pulled together different teams to launch various technologies. She had a $50 million annual budget and ran the marketing for three business units, where she became known as the launch guru. "That was probably the highlight of my career," Toomey says. "It was tremendously exciting and I learned a lot and met a lot of people." The whole high-tech environment was a little stifling, though, she says. To get away from all the talk of technical products, Toomey immersed herself in night and weekend art classes. "That was my creative outlet," she says. In time, Toomey says she began to feel uneasy about her work lifestyle. "I was there in my cube, making a significant amount of money, having all kinds of stock and all I longed for was to have my own start-up," she says. "I wanted to be the one doing these start-ups. I wanted to be an entrepreneur." Although the money was great at her job, Toomey says she wasn't totally satisfied or happy. After giving birth to twins, she finally decided that the corporate world was not for her and in August 2006, Toomey launched Art to Gogh , a creative enrichment services company for children.
Previous job: Marketing representative Now: Founder and owner of Art to Gogh
The transition: "The transition came very naturally," Toomey says. "I am a very motivated self-starter." One positive difference, she says, was that she was calling the shots. However, what she missed was the camaraderie of working with a team and learning from those people.