Never Let Anyone Make You Choose

There was a time, early in my career, when I received dueling advice from two very sage executives, both of whom I greatly respect. One advised me to pick one thing and be the very best at it, to master my craft and take it as far as I possibly could. The other advised me to fill buckets along the way, to gather experience that would prepare me for a leadership role. Equally valid paths, both of which can lead to success, but it crystallized for me that I wanted to be BOTH a bucket filler and a master at my craft. Never let anyone make you choose between this and that.

Each of the roles I’ve held at four different Fortune 500 companies, has been wildly different, but with one commonality: I was at the heart of the organization, working on the core competency of the company. I started as a consultant for Accenture, one of the most successful global consulting firms. When I decided to pursue brand management, I went to work for The Walt Disney Company in corporate brand and franchise management. At Warner Bros., I work in theatrical marketing at the heart of the studio. If you want to be the best, learn from the best. And always be learning. A rich career is a journey, not a destination.

I had my first child while working for Disney and attending business school at UCLA Anderson. My pregnant belly went with me from board rooms to classrooms. There were plenty of opportunities to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and inept. There still are. Working for large organizations requires resilience, perseverance, and a great deal of trust that the seeds you are planting will one day bloom. Focus on your circle of control and your circle of influence will grow.

To the women starting their careers or striving to take their careers to the next level, know that your path is uniquely your own and that you can do both—fill buckets AND master your craft. When you get to the board room, know that you deserve to be there. Know that you can and will have an impact.