I have worked for BDO Seidman for 14 years, serving as lead general counsel for the last six years. A few years ago, the CEO asked me to spearhead two new firm strategies—BDO Flex and the BDO Women’s initiative. I accepted the leadership role in service to an organization about which I care deeply. In the end, I have benefited much more than I expected to in terms of personal and professional growth.
The unique combination of legal counselor and change driver has opened my eyes to a few important lessons about success.
Take risks to champion an issue that’s important to you. As a wife, mother, community volunteer, and executive, I could not have achieved success without the flexibility to manage where and when I get my work accomplished. Transitioning from a personal user of flexibility to the firm-wide leader of BDO Flex required me to step outside of my area of expertise and take a risk. In the end, I have learned about building a strategy from the ground up and have helped create a cutting edge approach to flexibility that benefits the firm and all of our employees.
A commitment to change benefits everything you do. Change, both personal and organizational, is messy. However, it’s the only way to survive in a fast-paced, ever-evolving world. Both BDO Flex and the BDO women’s initiative are about culture change and shifting individual beliefs and assumptions about the workplace. Whether it is a small change like planning a networking event with female clients or something more significant, such as asking people to dialogue about gender stereotypes, re-imagining our firm is what will keep us thriving.
During challenging times, look to past experiences and to those you respect for guidance. As the General Counsel, much of my time is spent on difficult, high stakes problems—especially during the recent years of upheaval in the accounting industry. In the midst of a new regulatory landscape, there were times I didn’t know the answers when others were looking to me to lead. The two best sources of guidance I found were lessons I learned during other challenging times, and reaching out to trusted advisors and colleagues. Leaders do not have to know all the answers and they do not have to lead alone.
I feel very blessed to be at a point in my career where I can reflect on my accomplishments. I look forward to continued risk-taking, discomfort, challenges, and guidance from peers.