The path that someone takes in life is often influenced by what motivates or drives them. Unfortunately, this driving force sometimes causes individuals to forget their core beliefs. My two career and life guiding principles are that nothing is impossible and to always be true to oneself.

When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because my mother raised my siblings and me as a single parent. I remember my grandmother trying to teach me grammar, spelling, and other fundamentals. She was patient and supportive. She was always able to help me master the lesson.

Although I think that my grandmother was more focused on the subject matter at hand, I believe that the greatest thing I learned from her was that you can achieve anything through hard work and focus. In short, nothing is impossible.

As I became older I was able to help my mother by caring for my younger sisters. Although it was difficult at times, I found that I enjoyed being responsible for others. During this period my mother taught me about self-reliance. These lessons, taught to me by my mother and grandmother, created my true self.

After graduating from college and beginning my career, I was driven by and cared very much about achieving professional success. As I moved upwards professionally, I developed a discipline of keeping a distance between myself and the employees who worked for me. I was successful in the sense that I was being promoted and having more responsibility thrust upon me, but I felt disconnected and empty. Later in my career, however, I was fortunate enough to work with someone who redirected me and helped me become more balanced. Although this person taught me several important lessons, the most important message I learned from her was that not only was it acceptable to have closer relationships with my colleagues, but that it was much more reflective of the person that I am. This key lesson helped fulfill my need to care, mentor, and be responsible for others—my true self.

It may seem obvious that hard work and focus are less important than genuinely caring about the people with whom you work, but I truly believe that a great leader draws out more from their people when the personal connection is strong.

How has education affected your career?

In college my studies included psychology, religion, and cultural training, in addition to business and financial studies. This broad liberal arts background has been an asset and helped me to continue my journey of learning to connect with people. I am very confident in my communication skills and welcome the opportunity to work with new people to achieve a common goal. This is what I love most about what I do.

What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?

Decide what you want to do and develop a plan to achieve it. No one else should develop your plan for you. Be deliberate about what you want to accomplish, then execute it.