Laura Hammarstrom is the founder and operator of Laura Hammarstrom, CMP, LLC. Her company provides a comprehensive suite of professional, customer-focused, on-site event management services worldwide. Though she contributes a lot of her success to experiences gained from her past corporate career, Hammarstrom is a firm believer in the power of time off and taking a career break. She believes the career breaks she has taken have not only helped her personally but they have also helped her professionally, leading her to her dream career in event and incentive program management.
Hammarstrom’s career breaks have taken her from corporate jobs spending most of her days sitting at a desk to traveling the world living out of a backpack. Most recently, to unwind and unplug from all technology, she moved to Mount Rainier National Park and hiked the Wonderland Trail. Having this change of pace not only improves Hammarstrom’s physical and mental health, she feels it makes her a more well-rounded person. She found taking this time and traveling to remote parts of the world can only make one more compassionate and open-minded.
A “light-bulb moment” for Hammarstrom was early in her career when working the usual 9-to-5 in the United States. With plans to take a two-week family vacation overseas, she was told never to take such an extended vacation. Her boss shared that the perception would be that she wasn’t valuable to the company if she could be away for that long. Fear immediately crept in that all of her dreams to travel the world would be put on hold until retirement. Instead, it inspired her to plan her first year-long career break and a move to New Zealand.
The corporate world in the United States once looked down on career breaks, classifying the action as career suicide. Now, some employers encourage it. Hammarstrom found this type of encouragement in the United Kingdom during her opportunity to work there as an expatriate. Seeing the European perspective on work-life balance completely changed Hammarstrom’s mindset. She saw first-hand that co-workers and leadership could step away from their work for weeks and months at a time and come back thriving. Ultimately, both the person and the company benefited. Once again inspired, she planned her second year-long career break and, ultimately, a transition to her dream career.
For Hammarstrom, career breaks are about disconnecting from work obligations completely and immersing herself in the places she is visiting. She contemplated working remotely or becoming a travel blogger; however, personally, she finds it is hard to really take in a place and enjoy it if tethered to a laptop and work that needs to be done. “Some ask how it is possible for me to step away. For me, traveling is a priority. I always say I will never have a big house or a nice car, but I will always find a way to continue to travel,” shared Laura Hammarstrom.
Taking time off can be a positive experience. The choice can reflect personal interest and dedication to expanding skillsets and diving into new adventures. For example, five hundred people were interviewed in 2011 for a book titled Reboot Your Life that focuses on delivering career break advice. Out of those five hundred people, not a single person regretted their choice to take a career break.
“Reflecting on my time during my career break, it has not only benefited me personally, but it has also enhanced my career. I have come back from my travels inspired and recharged. Ultimately, it has helped me to pivot my career to event management and be promoted into bigger, more challenging roles. Having the opportunity to marry my love of travel with my love for events is a win-win,” said Laura Hammarstrom.
About Laura Hammarstrom
Laura Hammarstrom is the founder of Laura Hammarstrom, CMP, LLC, a company that provides a comprehensive suite of professional, customer-focused, on-site event management services. As event manager and travel director, she specializes in VIP experiences, corporate meetings, international conferences, pharmaceutical meetings, festivals, and incentive programs. Hammarstrom thrives in a fast-paced, challenging environment. She is detail-oriented and experienced in driving all aspects of projects, including developing strategy, directing vision, contract negotiations, operations, vendor sourcing, and budget management.