For 22 years, J. “Damian” Birkel enjoyed increasingly progressive marketing roles and management responsibilities with three Fortune 500 corporations: Sara Lee Corporation, Dillard’s Department Stores (formerly Higbee’s) and Macy’s (The May Company Cleveland). Life was exceedingly good. Then, for each corporate experience came “downsizing”, “reorganization” —all resulting in difficult-to-understand job losses, despite numerous personal achievements and contributions at each company he worked for.
Downsizing changed their lives and his.
Capitalizing on business experiences, Damian turned his job loss pain into action to become a Certified Career Counselor (with Career Partners’ International, Right Management Inc. & “The Five O’Clock Club”) and created a non-profit organization offering a no-charge, “safe space for anyone out of work, with no where to turn”. Not only the Founder of Professionals in Transition® (PIT®) in 1992, Damian continues to tirelessly serve as a regular speaker, coach, trainer, and hands-on support to others adjusting to the harsh realities of an ever-changing workplace.
Damian’s passion for helping others is only exceeded by the size of his heart and compassion for others. His support to see each person attending PIT® overcome obstacles and return emotionally healthy and equipped to serve in the workplace earned him The Jefferson Award in recognition for “Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Local Community”—a nationally recognized award to history makers and “unsung heroes” including Barbara Bush, Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey.
Drawing from his B.A. in Psychology from Cleveland State University and graduate assistant experience under John P. Wilson, PhD.—a highly acclaimed expert on Post Delayed Stress Syndrome and war trauma, Damian writes extensively on career topics for publications and self-help books. After time spent with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and author Richard Nelson Bolles of What Color Is Your Parachute, Damian wrote “Career Bounce-Back!” and “The Career Bounce-Back Workbook”. Most recently, he authored “The Job Search Checklist, Everything You Need to Know to Get Back to Work After a Layoff” published by the American Management Association.
Damian’s job search methodologies have benefited more than 10,000 out-of-work professionals in gaining new employment and his expertise has been featured on Fox News, BBC, CNN, NPR, USA Today, Fortune, Time, The Wall Street Journal, among others.