Second chances and life lessons: Story of a team member who returned post first stint at Frontier



Recently, Frontier re-recruited (we shall for now assume that this is a word) a former team member to do work specific for our online reports platform Athena, and this re-recruitment is going great.


As her story had particularly interesting key takeaways, we shared a write-up of it in her own words, among our team before our regular team chat. Following up, we’ve decided to share a blog post of the notes too, as it can also give future team members a sense of what we are like as a firm.


This is her story;


I joined Frontier as an intern in the Econ team and was later moved to the operations and special projects team. While the reason for this move was not communicated at the time, in a conversation with Amal recently, I learnt that it was because Frontier had felt based on work I had done, that Econ at Frontier was not really working out well as a good fit for me, and would be good to test in other teams.


Amal/Frontier did not tell the reason at the time, because they felt it would be upsetting given I had longer term goals of continuing Econ as an academic. Now looking back, I understand that while the way Econ is done at Frontier might not fit what I am good at, I learnt that I can still contribute and have very interesting non-Econ work at Frontier.


But one possible learning from this is to be honest about the reasons, although it can be hard in situations like this.


After working in Operations/Special Projects for a while, Amal was very direct with me during my appraisal where he said that I could continue in business development but might not be given very value adding work. He questioned if I am okay with that, and while he can provide me with more curation related work, he wanted me to think further if that was the best choice for me.


Upon thinking, I returned to the discussion saying that I find myself at crossroads in understanding if I truly add value to Frontier, and decided to resign. I also noted that I would have preferred more regular feedback on aspects such as reliability and overall performance, instead of one final remark. Amal agreed that it might be in both Frontier’s and my interests that I do decide to move on.


Upon my exit from Frontier, I worked in high pressure environments for a couple of years and these places taught me how to function in high pressure environments with fast output of work being an absolute necessity. I also learnt to work with diverse people, and how to communicate better professionally. Overall, I do not regret having left Frontier at that time, as it helped me mature fast, and grow as an individual, even though work-life balance was questionable. All the diverse experience under my belt, and my return to Econ related work as a mature individual, did help me to bag a scholarship to continue my higher studies in development studies. It all depends on our priorities at specific points in time, and my priorities have definitely been on a rollercoaster ride.


My return to Frontier worked out great for me personally as well. While they gave me a second chance in doing non-econ work, I found personally interesting, I gave the private sector another chance by not allowing myself to categorize all private sector employment under a broad umbrella of “hectic”. Work culture at Frontier is drastically different to some other places I worked at, and at this point in time, Frontier’s values align with my own.


A major takeaway here is that sometimes what we want to do, might not necessarily match with our skill set, and there might obviously be people who are much better at specific tasks than us (sort of like what econ research was for me). But there is always a path, if we have the right discussions at the right time, and a good employer/mentor would really help to lead us down that path. At the outset, it can hurt. It’s always a difficult conversation, and I did take it negatively at the beginning. Overtime, I really appreciated that conversation, and it helped me work out alternatives that worked better for me. However, more transparency, and a longer conversation on the skills that fit and did not fit from the Frontier perspective, would have helped even a lot more, in my opinion.