My professional career has been built on a wide range of opportunities—and even challenges. When I’ve taken on roles outside my skill set, I have found that I learned and excelled, and used those new skills to further my career. When I started exploring my current role with Lincoln Financial Group, I found Lincoln was looking for the unique experiences I had to offer, which led to a strong cultural fit and exciting growth in my career.
In every role, with every company, there are four skill sets I’ve found to be invaluable:
1. Financial acumen: Regardless of function, it’s important to understand the numbers, and to be able to balance the needs of your area with the shareholder.
2. Influencing and negotiating: In today’s collaborative and matrixed business world, you need flexible approaches to get things done.
3. Building a successful team: You must have the right people in the right roles. You also need deliberate plans to develop talent for success today and in the future.
4. Vision and goal setting: As a leader, you must create a compelling future vision to motivate and energize your team to accomplish great things. Then, set clear goals to monitor your progress, celebrate wins, and learn from your misses!
Reflecting on my career, I can see that I’ve built my talent “toolbox” through broad experiences in IT, finance, operations, sales, and product development, supported by Six Sigma and leadership training. My desire to learn new things and willingness to see things from a different perspective has created my cross-functional background, and surprisingly has become a true career advantage. My advice? Always remain open to building your skills and exploring new career adventures.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My grandmother was my biggest advocate; she taught me how to listen and to always believe in myself. She told me that if I worked hard, anything was possible.
On Facing Challenges
During the financial crisis, I was involved in a project that involved a layoff of more than 100 people—many of whom, I had known for years and considered friends. It was a tough time for me, knowing that so many lives and families would be affected. It was also an inspirational experience, watching the personal resolve of my impacted friends. They worked through the setback and ultimately found great opportunities.
Beth’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Many women early in their careers have their eyes set on one specific job, and think that if they don’t land that one job, they won’t be happy. My advice would be to recognize the broad range of skills and talents you have. Simultaneously, candidly assess the skills you need to develop. Then look for assignments that will leverage your strengths AND build your developmental opportunities. Looking at potential job opportunities this way will open your eyes to roles you never would have considered. From personal experience, I can tell you that those roles have been some of the best I’ve had.