Don’t be afraid to have a sense of self and a strong character. The attributes that make you a strong woman in life are the same ones that make you a successful woman in business. My grandmother and mentor taught me you can be both strong and feminine—celebrate yourself everyday.

When I first started my career in IT over 20 years ago, I didn’t have female role models, and I wasn’t treated well, so I learned what type of leader I didn’t want to be. I surrounded myself with successful people—individuals who valued honesty, integrity and hard work, and were active participants in their own success—and spent as much time as possible cultivating my leadership style.

As a leader, it’s important that you take control of your own destiny. There are no handouts in business, just as there are no handouts in life. Deliver your work on time, on scope and on budget—nobody can dispute that.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, but do everything you can to learn from them. I always learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. I think about what I should never do again, but I don’t dwell on it.

Spend time learning about the people you work with. By taking an active interest in their lives, you show them they are more than just a worker. Some of my most rewarding moments as a leader have come from watching people around me succeed.

Many women could do better as leaders if they made it a priority to develop a wide network of support both inside and outside the office. I’m a member of several committees dedicated to developing women in technology. I rely on these networking opportunities to keep a pulse on the IT industry, and in return I have the opportunity to offer advice to women working in a predominately male industry.

Focus on being the best leader you can be by being true to yourself and your employees. Take control of your own career, ask for help when you need it and have fun every day.