There are three key pieces of advice that I think will benefit every woman starting her career: she must recognize her self-worth; work hard at everything she embarks upon; and not underestimate the importance of networking.
My parents instilled a great sense of self-worth in my sister and me at a very young age. My father was always surrounded by very strong women in his life, and was adamant that his daughters never let themselves be treated as second-class citizens. As a result, I always tried not to succumb to perceived career limitations, and never allowed myself to be put down or disrespected.
As I entered the working world, I approached every project with enthusiasm and as an opportunity to learn. I knew that I would have to work extra hard to prove myself, consider no project beneath me, and complete every project to the best of my ability. Instead of competing directly with others, I concentrated on differentiating myself and my performance by reading and learning everything I could about the industries and fields my work touched. I always looked beyond the immediate task at hand, keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Throughout my career I made it a point to surround myself with really smart people, both men and women, recognizing that hard work alone is not enough to become truly successful. I was fortunate very early on to have several men and women who took an interest in me and helped me understand what it would take to achieve in a professional environment. I went to a college for women, and there was a very strong network of women helping open doors and advance young women in their careers. That network was very instrumental in my early career, and since that time I have made it a point to help and guide younger women with whom I come in contact. I learned along the way that it is important not only to produce great work, but also to recognize and cultivate young talent.
Last, I encourage every woman aspiring to the seniormost levels in her profession to obtain a graduate degree. At 40, while raising two young children, I went back to school to pursue a graduate degree and fulfill my desire to learn and better myself. This required an enormous amount of work, sacrifice, and commitment, and is one of my proudest accomplishments.