I am privileged to have this opportunity to share the leadership lessons I have learned on a journey that spans living and working on three continents. Leadership has never been more important as the business world grows exponentially more complex.

Outstanding performance requires a compelling vision and a focus on execution. On both of these fronts, clarity of direction and communication are leadership prerequisites. As leaders, we have to be extremely thoughtful about the resources needed for success and be engaged personally in removing barriers.

Great ideas come from collaborative and inclusive environments. Listen to diverse points of view. Value all perspectives and be open and approachable so that people will give them to you.

Talent management is paramount. Create real opportunities for people at all levels to lead and to grow. I am grateful for all the investment in leadership development that Unilever has provided to me, as well as to all the leaders I have worked with who have been generous in their mentoring and wise in their counsel. I recognize the importance of giving back within the organization through coaching and mentoring that seeks to be both inspiring and honest.

Invest in your own vitality. I am fortunate to work for a company whose mission is to add vitality to life and to help consumers look good, feel good and get more out of life. Leading teams and running businesses require a huge amount of energy and resilience. As a working mom, it took me a little while to learn that no one takes care of this for you. It has to become a personal priority.

Manage your career as a marathon, not a sprint. Choose assignments or people to work for because you can learn from them. Get the balance right for you at each point in time between career and family. I chose some years ago to work part time for seven years when my children were younger. Recently, I became a member of the Global Diversity Council at Unilever and, as such, I hope to be able to further the opportunities for people who want flexible work options as well as vibrant careers.

Above all, be passionate about what you do, never compromise on integrity, treat others as they would want to be treated and maintain both a healthy dose of reality and a sense of humor.