The road from Wall Street M&A lawyer to CFO of an $8 billion revenue company is neither straight nor obvious. From a mentoring perspective, I always make clear that, in building a career for yourself, you must be willing to take (calculated) risks, and you must also find roles about which you can be passionate, and people with whom you enjoy working.

If you had told me 15 years ago that I would be sitting in the chair I occupy today, I would have laughed at you! I enjoyed what I was doing, was good at my job (by then I was in-house counsel at Sara Lee Corporation), and liked the people with whom I worked. Then opportunity came knocking in the form of a much higher profile role on the M&A/strategy team at Sara Lee. With some trepidation, I leapt, and learned quickly that I enjoyed the business side even more than the legal side—and that with hard work, I could be successful at it as well. That was the last time that I waited for opportunity to “come knocking.” From then on, I kept a keen eye out for what I would enjoy doing next and what I needed to do to put myself in a position for growth.

I am a firm believer in Madeleine Albright’s quote that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” it is important to me that her message is clearly heard, and that other young women are aware of the power and support they can give and receive from each other. It is with this expectation that I mentor and help young women along in their career so that when the opportunity presents itself, those who have benefited from my help will do the same for some one else.