Welcome to Protiviti’s Sabbatical Series which focuses on the stories of our people as the find, define and live their passions! To highlight these experiences, we’ve caught up with some of our employees who recently took a sabbatical. We’re eager to share more about the insights they gained and how they’ll apply their learnings in both life and in their professional careers.

Today, we’re chatting with Lauren, a consultant in Business Process Improvement. Lauren has been with Protiviti for three years and is a valued member of our team. Outside of work, she loves to travel, so we’re thrilled to kick off this new series with her exciting story.

PROTIVITI: Tell us a little bit about where you were on your sabbatical.

Grapevine Tying
Fun Fact: Lauren also learned how to forage for wild asparagus!

LAUREN: I took a 3-month sabbatical from March to May to participate in WWOOF and solo-travel around Europe. Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a worldwide movement to link visitors with organic farmers, promote a cultural and educational exchange, and build a global community that is conscious of ecological farming and sustainability practices. Throughout my time, I was able to visit Italy, France, England, and Ireland.

PRO: What were your responsibilities through WWOOF?

L: Throughout my time, I worked at both a winery and an agrotourism property. At the winery I spent my time tying the grapevines, labeling bottles, and packaging bottles for shipping. At the agrotourism property, there was a small olive grove but due to the season, I primarily spent my time preparing the rental units for springtime. The hosts graciously welcomed me into their home where we shared all meals together, allowing me to be immersed into the culture and their daily lives.

PRO: You mentioned you were able to travel outside of the program. Where else did you get to visit?

L: After my time in Lucca with WWOOF, I began traveling all around Italy, staying in hostels. I saw the David statue, hiked 10 miles along the coast, ventured through Pompeii, navigated the famous Venice waterways, visited Lake Como, and sampled plenty of Italian food and wine along the way. After Italy, I met up with a friend from college in France, where we traveled along the south of France. We stayed in Cannes, Marseille, Montpelier, Bordeaux, and ended in Paris. Over those 2 weeks we took a sailboat tour in Antibes, visited a winery in the famous Saint-Emilion region, and toured the Palace of Versailles. Next, I made my way to London where I spent about a week exploring the city. My last stop was Ireland where I met up with my parents. We traveled all around the country, making stops in Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Dublin. It was amazing!

“Best Lasagna Ever” – Lauren

PRO: What inspired you to choose this as your sabbatical experience?

L: I had caught a severe case of the travel bug and wanted to see as many places as I could. I have never been to western Europe or on a solo trip, so I thought this sabbatical would be the perfect opportunity to do both. I had also wanted to be a part of WWOOF and thought it would be an amazing experience to learn new skills and truly be immersed in the culture. I did not know much about organic farming but was excited to learn.

PRO: Tell us more about your preparation for your sabbatical.

L: My project teams and advisors were very supportive of my decision to take sabbatical, which made things easy! During the planning process, they helped me think through timing and engagement roll off. My calendar was blocked off a couple months in advance, so I made sure all team members were aware. For any internal initiatives I was a part of, I made sure to delegate responsibility while I was away. Once March came, I felt confident and prepared to fully step away for the next 3 months.

PRO: What did you learn on your sabbatical? And how did what you learned translate to the work you do? 

L: Participating in the WWOOF program, I had to be very open minded in the kind of work I would be doing. The tasks change based on the needs of the hosts and you had to be agile. This directly translates to consulting as projects can quickly shift and adaptability is key. Engagement deliverables may not be what you expect but clients are always at the forefront.

Lauren at the Colosseum

PRO: What, if any, changes have you made at work based on the experience you had?

L: The biggest change I’ve made since returning from sabbatical is continuing to value a work life balance. This sabbatical helped me to recharge and reset, but I want to continue to take time for myself when needed.

PRO: Why do you think people should consider taking advantage of this benefit? What should people consider for their own sabbatical experience?

L: This benefit is unique to Protiviti and not something that every company offers. Every time I told people that I was on a paid sabbatical, they were impressed my company would offer that! It was a very easy process and the People & Culture team helped me along the way. You can tailor your sabbatical experience to whatever it is you are curious or passionate about.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Lauren! To learn more about all of the amazing benefits Protiviti provides to its employees, visit our website and find your next role with us!

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