I believe that adhering to my core values of integrity, loyalty, and continuous learning underlies my success. Raised in Munhall, Pennsylvania, located near the Homestead Steel Works, times were difficult growing up. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 and earned an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business in 1992. While attaining these degrees, I learned that working with others and building relationships was as valuable as technical and tactical knowledge.
I started my career with the fledgling Roadway Package System. It was an exciting, fast-paced business and a hotbed for success and advancement. We were constantly growing and I was given many opportunities to prove myself. Learning quickly was essential. It felt like I was creating things, contributing to the growth of a company that had unlimited growth potential.
I knew I was in a male-dominated industry. I took this as an opportunity to change minds about women in the workplace. I knew that if I brought my expertise and knowledge, my superiors would listen. Early in my career, an executive with FedEx Ground asked me to envision my eventual role with the company. I told him that I saw myself as a vice president. Given the nickname the “Velvet Hammer,” I achieved success by effectively taking on more responsibility and leadership roles, learning the importance of authenticity and building trust.
The roads I have traveled to success bring to mind the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith. The qualities, knowledge, and expertise that I had in one stage of my career did not always translate to the next. We must continuously learn and accept change.
For me, the joy of a successful career requires balance between work and family. As a wife and proud mother of three children, I have made it a priority to be as successful, if not more, with my family. I have encouraged them in their commitments to music, sports, and academics. I believe that if you have positive motivation from within, it becomes manifest in the energy with which you tackle daily problems. This energy is contagious and not only propels you to succeed, but helps others.
How has education affected your career?
Education provided me with technical expertise as well as discipline and organizational skills. Additionally, it taught me how to listen better to others and develop relationships.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
Both individually and as an organization, have a strategy for where you want to make your next move. Always be aware of your competition and anticipate their next moves.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
I would give this advice to anyone: Be prepared to commit. Find what you like to do—what you are good at—and pursue it. Most importantly, have fun!