I believe the key to my success has been a strong work ethic, being a constant learner, and striving to be a servant leader.

My parents taught me the importance of a strong work ethic—being punctual and taking responsibility for tasks assigned to me. Today I realize a strong work ethic makes one valuable to an organization. Doing your work to the best of your ability is part of a strong work ethic. I’ve always tried to do my best and exceed the expectations of those who believe in and encourage me. I don’t think about what role my current job might lead to in the future.

Education is important to keeping your skills current and marketable, but being a constant learner and critical thinker is essential. I’ve watched great leaders ask questions that integrate various thoughts or parts of a discussion. They want to know how new information or a change will affect other components. They strive to understand the full impact of a decision. I want those I mentor to understand the importance of thinking this way.

There’s a difference between a manager and a leader. A leader is someone people want to follow. Those I admire most are servant leaders, and I’ve tried to follow their leadership style. They work hard, never ask you to do something they wouldn’t, encourage you to share your opinions, and value you as a human being. If you have integrity, invest in the lives of others, and build relationships, you will earn the trust and respect of others and be someone people want to follow.

Leaders also understand the importance of work/life balance for their teammates and themselves. Achieving work/life balance can be a challenge. I often review my priorities and ask myself if I have the right balance. Early in my career having that balance was important to my family. I made the decision to work part-time, because I needed to be with my daughters, one of whom was born prematurely and struggled her first year. When I came back to work full-time, my family was at a different place, my daughter’s health was better, and the timing was right.

If you have a strong work ethic, are a constant learner, and strive to be a servant leader, your odds of achieving success are high.

What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?

You need to be well trained and a constant learner. I never see my career as a destination; it’s a journey.

Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?

I have never focused on what I may not be able to achieve because of discrimination. Instead, I have always believed I need to focus on what I can control.

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

Always do your best and strive to exceed expectations. Become a critical thinker by asking questions such as, What are our competitors doing that we’re not? What can I learn from this article or report? How is A going to affect B?