Often I hear coworkers lament about missed opportunities for promotion. The comments often reference their great results and, therefore, unquestionable qualifications. That becomes the starting point for a conversation on results and career growth. I ask how much interaction there has been with the hiring manager or those who are giving the hiring manager feedback. I ask about collaboration and visibility within the organization. By the time the conversation ends, I have conveyed that it is not only the results that matter, it is also how the results are achieved.
Recognizing how I best deliver results and exceed expectations is a lifelong pro- cess. I am thankful that my most memorable lesson occurred early in my career. Following my graduation from Yale, I entered a department store training program. My first assignment was working as the jewelry manager. Within a few months it came time for a visit from the chairman, which involved working well past mid- night. I mistakenly assumed that my sales associates would remain and work by my side. When the store closed, however, they clocked out and I was horrified. Only my assistant remained. Both she and my boss helped me understand that I needed to increase my focus on communication, collaboration, and connecting with people to achieve results.
The nature of the lessons has evolved over the years, but the principles have remained the same: communication, collaboration, and connecting with people. I consider it my own responsibility to help people know me—and know the results I deliver. That has placed me in a position to experience multiple business functions, propose new roles, and switch industries. In my role with Alliant Energy, my mantra is, What makes me unique? Through this question I encourage all our employees to identify their uniqueness, respect the uniqueness of others, and recognize shared perspectives and talents—as we achieve results together for the benefit of our customers and the communities we serve.
Working as a diversity and inclusion practitioner has been one of my most gratifying assignments. Much of that gratitude comes from having gained the confidence to be myself; there is tremendous liberty, boldness, and accomplishment in being you. Even better is the alignment I have achieved between my personal and professional priorities. I continue to learn lessons about communication, collaboration, and connecting with people to achieve results.
How has education affected your career?
As a music major whose entire career has been in business, I know that education is critical and a major does not determine career path.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/ or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
My mother, who was an accomplished pianist, raised twelve children, graduated from college with a degree in Russian at the age of sixty-two, and made multiple contributions to the community. It’s possible to do it all; only you can establish your priorities and timing.