Throughout my career, I’ve learned that the most effective way to establish myself has been to keep learning and by building a personal network and keeping my relationships current. For any woman, it’s important to stay current and build her network to extend to all parts of a company or field and to individuals from all backgrounds. Your ability and your relationships form the foundation on which you build your entire career, so they are two of the most important investments you can make.

I learned early on the importance of having a few key sponsors in my network. They’re the ones who motivate you and share in your successes, and the ones who champion you as you consider opportunities and step into new roles. Your sponsors also help you face your fears, failures, and challenges. Having sponsors has helped me connect with people in entirely new industries and fields, grow a network, identify my strengths, learn how I can work with others, and realize my dreams. One of the most recent and impactful networks I have joined has been a women’s network where experiences are shared, advice swapped, and support given.

Just as important as having sponsors who can help you advance, is learning to be humble and pay it forward. Always be grateful for those who gave to you, made room for you, made you feel confident enough to face a risk (or even failure), supported a new endeavor, or who empowered you with a new opportunity to grow.

While a woman’s network and support system are important to her career, her core values, and who she is as a person, build her as a leader and guide her professional path. Defining what is important to you will help you set goals, shape relationships, and keep dreaming your dream.

On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
To succeed and stay at the top of your game, you need to stay connected—both personally and professionally. Stay connected to and be appreciative of the people who have helped you advance and learn, but also stay connected and plugged into the bigger picture—the issues and people shaping your field.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Role models are the people who come to mind when I ask myself, “Why and how do I do what I do?” To me, that’s my family. From a young age, my parents empowered me to always have a voice, to look at the world as my oyster, and to take care of others. As my father always said, “Hold on to your dreams, work hard, and take care of your team. The rest will take care of itself.” I look to my family and how important they are as inspiration and motivation to keep challenging myself. They inspire me to keep dreaming and to take care of family first.

My professional mentors are the people who, although they had nothing to gain from taking me beneath their wings, went out of their way to ensure my voice was heard, that I had the right tools to succeed, and that my dreams were never out of reach.

On Facing Challenges
The greatest challenge for me has been facing failure. Taking risks is a scary thing, especially knowing you can fail. Yet, you learn that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. By taking risks, owning your actions, and facing failure and learning from it, you grow and appreciate your successes and the successes of others.

Christie’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Always, always step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be one dimensional. Look for opportunities outside your everyday job that will broaden your relationships and skill set. Doing so makes you a stronger person—and a more prepared leader.