Get Ignited: Sharon Fiehler

Do you ever wonder what’s next in your career? One of my favorite things to do is work with people who are approaching or engaged in a work transition. Whether at the beginning of a career, somewhere in the middle or at the end, transitions are a great time to reflect on what is most important to us. When people are nearing the end of a successful career, there is often a special energy—a desire to give back. One of the people I’ve enjoyed working with during this phase is Sharon Fiehler.

Sharon had a rockstar career at Peabody Energy where she worked her way up to the C-suite. In addition to serving as Peabody’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Sharon also served as chairman of the board of the eighth district of the Federal Reserve. She retired from Peabody at a young age, but still has all of the passion that drove her to the heights of her career. For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Sharon on her most recent passion project.

After retiring, she took a moment to reflect. While she truly enjoyed her career, she wondered why she had not considered going for the position of chief executive officer. She realized that even if she had wanted to hold that title, the career path she chose didn’t lend itself to becoming CEO of a major corporation. As a woman who spent her career solving complex problems, Sharon decided to solve yet another. With only 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs female, she wanted to provide young women with the virtual mentorship needed to prepare for the possibility of becoming not just a leader but the leader.

She created ABC to CEO, a nonprofit that helps girls and young women navigate the path up the ladder. As Sharon explains, “I wanted to bring together talented women in various stages of their careers to help bring to life my vision and passion for presenting young women with knowledge that might lead them through the difficult maze of career dead-ends, with the possibility of better understanding the ways to becoming the leader of an organization.”

That vision has become a reality. Through the nonprofit, Sharon now hosts a regular podcast series with CEOs to help develop the next generation of female leaders. Her guests share inside stories of their successes and challenges. This winter, Sharon hosted a virtual event featuring women CEOs in finance. Later this year, she will feature female leaders in technology. ABC to CEO now has thousands of followers and offers tools and support to those who have the fire to go the distance. According to Fiehler, “We are not about changing what girls want to be, we are about increasing the choices of what they can become.”

Sharon offers a great example of continuing to make a huge impact—even in retirement. If you are in your own work transition, take time to reflect on what is important to you, what you can offer others and how to make a difference. It will help ignite the next phase of your career and make it that much more rewarding.

To learn more, follow @abctoceo on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn or visit

Beth Chesterton is a master certified executive coach and an expert in organizational development.


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