Growing up in Thailand, I never imagined myself a future corporate executive. Yet, I have spent most of my adult life working in business. It has been an enriching experience, and if I had to give advice to young women, I would say the following:
work hard and build expertise, seek challenging opportunities, hire and motivate the best, and work for a company that values you.
I was an English major in college who landed my first job on Wall Street. Unlike most of my peers, I had no formal training in finance or accounting. I studied hard to catch up, sought a variety of jobs to enhance my skills, and focused on building expertise around investing. This expertise gave me confidence, especially when we had to make difficult judgment calls and during tough economic periods.
Looking back, I learned the most when I was the most challenged. I inherited a portfolio of distressed investments, primarily companies that had been funded during the peak of the market. My mandate was to stop the losses. What seemed to be an impossible task turned out to be one of the best learning experiences. We had to reinvigorate management, build consensus amongst investors, and fix business models. With hard work and luck, we ended up making money.
As my responsibilities grew, I came to realize that I could not know or do everything myself. My success became less about me and more about my team. I had to provide the mission and the oversight and create the environment where they could excel. I gave the team a lot of independence to do their job and gave them the limelight in front of management. I was fortunate to have a good team that did not let me down.
Finally, I work for a company that values diversity. GE has reached out to me on numerous occasions as a woman and as a minority to ensure that I have the appropriate exposure and career opportunities. I would encourage others to seek corporations that similarly value a diverse workforce as a competitive advantage.