Early in my career, a boss of mine advised me to be ready to tackle a problem for the company and deliver on the solution. Successful performance such as this provides a platform for future growth.
I believe that women and minorities can avoid becoming pigeon holed by being prepared. Part of that preparation calls for creating a support system, or network. The key to anyone’s success depends upon his or her support systems. I’ve had caring parents, siblings and mentors who instilled in me solid family values, a strong work ethic and the confidence to believe in my abilities. With a foundation like that, it’s pretty hard to fail.
Make sure that you have a very solid network, one that will provide you with good, honest feedback. Your network should include people who are like you and unlike you. You need honest feedback to help you manage through all situations as you advance in your career.
Prior to joining Kodak, I gained a broad set of experiences both inside and outside of finance, taking jobs that put me outside my comfort zone. I was hired into Kodak as the finance director for what was then the manufacturing group. In that job, I tried to learn as much as I could about the broad base of Kodak. This set me up to go from that role into a broader corporate analyst position.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in that Kodak really respects the need for mentoring. It’s part of how we work. If your employer doesn’t have a formal mentoring program, it’s essential to build a mentoring structure for yourself.
Yet, a coaching and mentoring relationship only works if both parties get something out of it. As you’re seeking a network or a mentor or coaching relationship, be prepared to bring something to the party. If you don’t, you will have difficulty finding a mentor.
Senior executives need people who can articulate issues calmly that impact the culture in their organizations. Those leaders value that feedback. If you can be the kind of person who can articulate what’s going on and what it feels like to work in the organization, reach out. They’re likely to be willing to reach out to you.