Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Brooke Arent
Profession: Director, Global Stock Options Operations Project and Change Management at Morgan Stanley
Neighborhood: New Albany
Education: PMP, CCMP, Black Belt Six Sigma, B.S. The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Community Involvement: Board Member and Volunteer at The Relationship Foundation, The American Lung Association Dublin, H4H, NAACP, NOW, Micro Mentors, American Society for Microbiology, PMI Institute, National Association for the Advancement of Science, and Labroots.
Quote: “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.” – Joshua Graham
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | Website
Give us a snapshot of your path: I didn’t have a straight path nor did I have an easy one. I worked two jobs for many years, even while attending college. In Columbus I started out working in a call center and worked my way up to the point where I became financially stable, but then lost it all when I discovered a rare form of blood cancer. Cancer forced me to go on disability and for that I couldn’t have a 401k or a savings. I had to quit school and my job and start fighting for my life. I knew then, not only would I need to recover from Leukemia, but from the debt I’d accrued from my illness as well. I didn’t have a support system for most of my life and I also grew up very poor so staying on my feet was also a concern. While I was recovering from AML Leukemia I was temporarily blind in one eye from a blood clot related to the cancer and had bad chemo brain, so memory retention was an issue. Since I didn’t have enough credits, due to my illness, school froze my tuition three times, delaying my graduation date, which delayed my ability to make more income. Once I was able to finally resume school, my mother suddenly died in a car accident and I had to withdraw from classes until I was emotionally able to re-enroll. I had a lot going against me at the time and found that people could make six-figure salaries in Project Management. So I decided to learn all I could about the field and try to get into that industry, especially since it was so versatile. I was diligent about my plans and applied Project and Change Management to my personal life, got certified and also earned my degree while working full-time and volunteering. In order to increase my income I chose to move onto new roles versus staying in one company for a long time. As a result, I more than doubled my income in less than five years allowing me to be able to care for my debt and save for my future. My career, like my education, will always be evolving. I take great pride in the effort I’ve put into my education and skillset to be where I am today despite where I started. I find most people believe their job is just a job and not a career, but, to me, it’s all what you make of it. If you only put in the effort of a ‘job’ then that’s all it’ll ever be. But if you make it an investment, then you become the example.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
I am very lucky to have the life I have today so that certainly helps motivate me in the morning. One thing I really love about Project and Change Management is that you’re part of something bigger than you and you get to bring something to life that helps improve the lives of others. While I may get frustrated and have bad days at work, how could anyone not love that? Every single project is creating something that is helping an entire group of people, every single day, and I get to have a large part in that. That’s what gets me through the workweek.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Before I got sick, I was a major workaholic. I remember many nights thinking of things I needed to do or trying to solve problems instead of sleeping. I had no balance. But when I was dying, at no point did I think about a single report, a customer I needed to call back, or a presentation I needed to complete. In that hospital I did not have a single solid focus on what work I had back at the office. All I kept asking myself was, “Was I living a life that mattered or was I just living?” At that time I was just surviving when I really wanted to be thriving. That was a hard truth for me at the time and an even harder change. I desperately needed both. As far as mentors, I never had a mentor personally. I never wanted to replicated anyone else. I do, however, want to be as proud of myself as I am of others. I think we should get out of the mentality of celebrities being in high repute and instead place ourselves there.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I love nature so I try to go to any park I can or Lifetime Fitness. I also have an amazing strength and mobility coach, Jen Noble from Integrity Fitness, who really helps me destress. I have amazing people in my life and try to see them as often as I can regardless if it’s just working out with them, grabbing dinner or drinks, or seeing a movie. Creating content on my website Becoming Indomitable helps me feel empowered, and working with non-profits does too. I used to zone out in front of the TV for a while. I found that when work was over and that’s all I did, I never felt like I enjoyed myself or got anything out of the day, so having a routine really helped me.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
Honey Nail Studio (the BEST nail place in Columbus hands down – pun intended), Open Sky Day Spa, The Woodhouse Day Spa (can you tell I like spas?), The Citizens Trust by Veritas (amazing atmosphere and impressive drinks), Cambridge Tea House, Readings by Rosalie, 614AutoSpa, and Glass Axis.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I only wanted to be a medical doctor when I was little. I was fascinated with science and medicine. I am glad I became a health scientist though and a business leader. It was drilled into me as a child I could only do one thing in my life, but that was totally wrong. It’s a relief that I have more than one thing to fall back if I ever need.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Dear Hank and John (who does not love Hank Green?), This American Life, Science Vs, Stuff You Should Know, Taking Her Lead and Beauteous Me are my top podcasts pics. I’m actually reading blogs and not books. Right now I’m really into Nick Cave’s website where he answers questions from fans about anything and everything called, ‘The Red Hand Files.’ It is the coolest, most wholesome thing I’ve stumbled on in one very long time. I also really love ‘The Art of Manliness‘ blog site.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
This is truly a huge honor and I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity. I’m not sure if I can truly express what it means to me. Winning this has been a dream of mine and I am stunned to see it reached. This is something I will sincerely cherish for a very long time. I am forever grateful to the selection committee for choosing me.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
I’d say innovation and reinvention. The tech industry is huge here and Cbus is the number one city for rising startups and yet we still have a low cost of living even though we’re constantly growing. The energy has shifted so much even with in the last five years, I can’t image what the next five years here will look and feel like.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »