I naturally stand out—whether inside or outside my organization—because I am a woman of colour. I am intensely aware of my visibility and have worked hard to demonstrate my value to an organization. Did I need to work twice as hard because of my visibility? Perhaps. But I believe the key to getting people to know who you are and what you can do rests in doing great work. When you deliver exceptional results, people take notice.
I have worked hard to produce work that is of extremely high quality. I have kept my standards high and, at times, made unrealistic demands on those I worked with. One of the lessons I learned along the way is to keep expectations high for myself and low for others to minimize any disappointment with outcomes.
Another way I have learned to stand out is to invest in relationships. I have nurtured and maintained connections with people with whom I have worked, whether they were a supportive colleague, a trusted supervisor, or a cheerful peer. Having a deep and strong network has served me well throughout my career. You never know where your career path will lead, so it’s best to treat everyone you meet along the way with respect and kindness.
I also volunteer in my community, using my skills and experience to help organizations meet their goals. Volunteering has many benefits, including helping you build new connections, and I have encouraged those I mentor to consider how volunteerism can enhance their personal and professional outlook. I also encourage them to be approachable, assertive, and open to sharing their knowledge and skills. These are the prerequisites for getting noticed.
On My Most Valuable Career Advice
What would I tell a young woman just beginning her career? Find supportive mentors and coaches, and commit yourself to learning as much as possible. This will help you develop the skill base that will make you indispensable to your organization.
On the Person Most Influential in My Career
My former boss, with whom I worked for seven years, had a profound impact on my career. He was a great supporter and mentor, and gave me good advice about how to manage relationships and position myself for success. He encouraged and supported me to obtain my graduate degree. He also gave me the freedom to do my best work and created a safe space for me to grow personally and professionally.