As I look back on the beginning of my career, I recall being hesitant to share a dissenting view for fear of looking foolish due to my lack of experience. As I observed senior leaders I admired, I began to recognize common characteristics that contributed to their success. Those traits included being unafraid to offer a differing point of view and always challenging the team to question norms as a means to drive improvement.

My former hesitancy to be assertive is a common characteristic of many women entering the professional field. Women tend to be more reserved in group settings and are less likely to negotiate on their own behalf. In recent years, over half of the post-graduate degrees in the United States have been conferred to women of all ethnicities. Women in the professional workplace are more skilled, educated, and qualified for their roles than ever before and it is imperative that we embrace this knowledge and make our accomplishments and goals known. Once we accept this, we are ready to advance toward becoming a leader in our field.

Leaders are made, not born. I have learned to lead by following some basic tenets:

Learn by observing and interacting with leaders in your organization that you admire and adapt their style to your own.

Build a network of trusted advisors early in your career. The value of those relationships cannot be underestimated and will aid you in years to come. Career paths and destinies are determined by the actions of the individual, though the courses are rarely known.

Have the courage to speak up, contribute your views, and be prepared to defend them with logic and reason. It is uncomfortable at first, but over time you will find that your contributions are meaningful and help your team succeed.

Accept that while victories are important, some of the most valuable lessons in life and in your career can come from making mistakes. Give yourself permission to be wrong and learn from that experience.

Do the right thing. This means that you must do right by your company, family, and yourself.

Laugh every day. Find the joy in what you do and the people around you will do so as well.

What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?

A key to remaining competitive in my role is to embrace the mindset that the only thing that is constant is change. Businesses’ needs are evolving on a daily basis, particularly as globalization is increasingly important to companies of all sizes as they seek to enter new regions. I must be an avid learner across multiple industries and geographies and challenge my team to be as well in order to continue to provide an exceptional client experience.