I started my career working as an enforcement attorney for the SEC. When I took the job, I turned down an offer with a private firm at higher pay in my originally chosen field so that I could work in New York City. By taking this risk and taking on immediate responsibility for managing enforcement cases, I discovered that I really enjoyed securities law. Each subsequent job change has meant leaving a comfort zone for a broader opportunity and increased responsibility. This ultimately brought me to New York Life Investments, where I eventually expanded my role into the head of legal and compliance.
In looking back on the past 20 years of my career, I have followed some common guiding principles that have directed me on my career path. From these, I offer the following advice:
Know yourself. Think about your goals and understand the demands involved to achieve them and be willing and able to make the sacrifices that may be necessary. As a working mom, I continuously need to prioritize back and forth between work and family.
Never stop learning. Approach your job with a high level of intellectual curiosity. Don’t just learn the details, but also seek to understand how your role fits into the bigger picture.
Work hard. Shortcuts will only work in the short term. While there may be exceptions out there for the fortunate few, I am a true believer that there is no success without hard work.
Set high personal performance standards and always strive to meet them. This is true even if you feel your work is under-appreciated or that you’re underpaid. Consistently holding yourself to a higher standard will help you establish yourself as someone who can be counted on to produce high quality work.
Always act with integrity. Incorporate ethics into each of your decisions, until it becomes habit. It will not only help you sleep at night, but an ethical decision will always be the right long-term decision, even if it seems difficult in the short term.
Take some risk. There’s something to be said for being comfortable in your job, but it can impede growth and promotion opportunities and is not likely to be satisfying in the long run. If you are truly looking to move ahead, don’t settle for comfortable.