It’s been about a year since Penny Burnidge retired, but she’s not exactly slowing down. Her sense of curiosity—and her passion for learning new things—is what keeps her staying active, building relationships, and tackling her bucket list.

Penny spent 37 years with Hallmark Cards, Inc., taking on a wide range of roles, from sales to project management to information technology. Today she’s grateful for the opportunities that each of those positions offered—and for the enthusiasm to explore new interests that they fostered.

The Importance of Curiosity

Penny started at Hallmark as a junior secretary. She was going to night school, but she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to study and kept changing her degree. But as she worked her way into new departments, she found that what she loved most was watching how the technology was changing.

She had been inquisitive about computers when they were first brought in and began learning how the systems worked. Her fascination led her to keep asking questions, and soon she had learned enough to become a trainer. She went on to offer support center services—including help desk and point-of-sale technology management—throughout the corporate headquarters.

“The curiosity is what just kept me growing,” Penny says. “It’s a good thing I wasn’t a cat!” she adds with a laugh.

Words of Wisdom

Penny says that exploring the Exchange Circles and other programming has been another great way to foster her sense of curiosity. Smaller group events have helped her get to know members and to build relationships.

“Take advantage of the opportunity to build your network,” she says. “Get involved!”

And if she could offer her younger self any words of wisdom, she would tell herself have a little more confidence.

“Stand up a little taller for what you believe in,” Penny says.

Why Central Exchange

In 2011, Penny was looking for new ways to help sharpen her leadership development skills when she was introduced to Central Exchange by a manager. Just a few years later, she served as cochair of the Leadership Lyceum (now the Midwest Leadership Summit)—our annual flagship event.

What keeps her coming back almost ten years later, even in retirement? The variety! Penny loves the self-help, leadership, and communication tools she learns at Central Exchange, and she appreciates the adaptability that the organization has modeled in 2020 while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom presentations might not be the same without the in-person mingling (or the lunches!) but CX continues to offer the opportunity to network and grow.

In fact, Penny suggests it’s the perfect time to take advantage of all the resources that Central Exchange offers: the programs, the network, and the chance to share your own knowledge can help you develop your leadership skills no matter what else is going on in the world.

“Be a champion of CX!” she says.

We want to thank Penny for her dedication to Central Exchange over the years and her involvement in the community! And we invite you to bring your own curiosity: come see what you can learn as our guest! Join us for our next webinar, Exchange Circle, or other program for connection, conversation, and community.