have enjoyed my career and appreciate my excellent education and the chance to work and learn from exceptional people at Agilent and Hewlett-Packard. These are five things that I think of as really important contributors to success:

  • ENJOY WHAT YOU DO AND PASSION, COMMITMENT AND SUCCESSFUL CONTRIBUTION USUALLY WILL FOLLOW. When you enjoy your work, you’re at your best, and you bring out the best in those around you.
  • ALWAYS TRY AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE. Think about why others may see something differently and the implications and connections across domains.
  • PROVIDE A CULTURE IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN FOCUS ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, without political or other distractions. There are a lot of smart people in the world, and most can solve the moderately difficult problems. But to solve the really challenging ones requires great people giving their best. That can only happen with the right work environment and culture.
  • RESPECT AND VALUE YOUR TEAM AND PARTNERS. Working together, you can solve the really challenging problems. The days of the lone inventor with the luxury of time are gone. A teaming culture lets you innovate across the value delivery system—R&D with manufacturing, marketing with support, and so on. So many of the problems that matter today—energy, the environment, food and water safety—are at the intersection of disciplines and require many areas of expertise.

Try to invest time in task forces, professional societies, volunteer community work and others. It is often in these extracurricular activities that you find the greatest learning opportunities and the chance to meet people with whom you might not otherwise interact. For me, two great examples were my co-founding the original HP Technical Women’s Conference in 1988 and, more recently, my role as chair of the R&D subcommittee for California’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology. Both have enabled me to connect with great people in areas of expertise different from my own.

I believe in the multiple-mentor model. Each of us has a different set of strengths, and no one has it all. By selecting a set of mentors, each of whom excels in different skills, you can achieve a more powerful and balanced perspective. From there, it is up to you to integrate the picture and come up with a style and approach that reflect the best fit for you.