My career began as a certified public accountant with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells. I was assigned to audit Union Pacific Railroad at a period when the railroad industry was experiencing dramatic change and growth. I recognized the career opportunities that Union Pacific presented and joined the company in 1985.
During the last 25 years, I have held a variety of positions in finance and marketing and now work at establishing and implementing the strategy, as well as managing customer relationships, for our Chemical business. Following are a few things I have learned.
Trust and teamwork are critical. You can accomplish very little by yourself in the business world. To be successful, you must be part of an effective team. Teamwork requires members to trust each other. You need to have strong communication skills and be open and honest in those communications. As a team member, it is important to live up to your commitments and perform at a high level. As a team leader, you need to set expectations, show respect and value the contributions of your team.
Be an innovator. In these challenging economic times and the evolving global economy, the status quo won’t cut it. We need to develop new and better products and services. We need to find more efficient ways to conduct business. We need to focus on what is important and eliminate processes that don’t provide value. I believe we must support and encourage innovation. Fear of failure should not be a deterrent and taking some measured risk can yield great rewards.
Mentors are important. In my early years in business, my mentors typically were my supervisors. As I progressed, my mentors were executives in other parts of the company, successful businesswomen within my community and industry and my husband. These people provide encouragement, support and very direct feedback about my strengths and opportunities to improve. Taking this feedback and acting upon it has helped me become a better leader, business person and mentor. I also have learned a great deal from observing other leaders, what they do well and what they don’t. I try to incorporate those positive attributes and always work to avoid the negative ones.
Lastly, I have learned to celebrate successes, learn from failures and enjoy my work.