You never know

Apr 09, 2018

Get out of your comfort zone, take a risk, and jump at opportunities even if you don’t know where they will lead.

As I approached my three-year anniversary at Zweig Group, I sat and reflected on my time here. I started fresh out of the University of Arkansas, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had an idea of what Zweig Group did, and I knew what I was going to be doing when I started. But I didn’t know the industry and had never worked in a corporate environment. One thing was for certain, though. I wanted employment in a place where I could learn and grow. So I got out of my comfort zone and into a business I’d never imagined myself getting into. Three years in, I can say it paid off.

I started out working in our research and marketing database, helping to maintain and add to it. I also helped on projects for different consulting areas. An opening arose when a member of the executive search team left. I had never done that type of work, or any kind of recruiting for that matter, but I asked about joining the team. I got the position, splitting duties with my database work.

I learned more about the A/E industry, different positions and their responsibilities, and worked with a team within our company that I didn’t know much about. It was also a time when I got to know some of our clients on a more personal and professional level. None of this would have been possible without taking a shot at it, even though I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.

I worked in our executive search department in either a part-time or full-time role for about a year, having some success and certainly learning a lot. But then came another opportunity to work in our marketing department, directly managing our awards unit for Hot Firm and Best Firms to Work For, cornerstones of Zweig Group’s presence in the A/E industry. I was hesitant about this at first as I was starting to settle into my role in executive search. Though I knew it would be big, I wasn’t sure what the new role would entail.

After taking a couple of days to think it over, I decided to give it a go. I saw it as a chance to work with some of our best clients who are having great success, growing rapidly, are great places to work, and who have excellent marketing. It was also a new position and I thought I could help shape and form this unit of the company.

Since starting in awards nearly two years ago, I have had more client interaction, more responsibility, and more experience with leadership than I ever thought I would. I recognize that this wouldn’t be possible without the help of others, and to some extent, without the luck of having opportunities appear right in front of me. But I still had to take chances early in my career, and I’m glad I did.

So get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. You never know what might happen.

Kyle Ahern is the awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.