In my own professional journey, i’ve learned a few things that i hope can help other women to find their way in the world and become great leaders. First, in addition to formal knowledge in your chosen field, it is imperative that you believe in the work you are doing. When passion fuels learning, great things can happen to you and all those around you. Avoid becoming trapped in the traditional notion that you must know exactly what you want to do when you leave college. Take the necessary time to find the right professional home, and don’t be afraid to leave a job that’s not “the one.”

You should create a culture of inquiry for yourself and others. Encourage those you work with to share information, ask questions, and promote diversity of ideas. This kind of culture allows for better learning, avoidance of costly mistakes, and ultimately, better work products and environments.

The most successful leaders I know foster an ownership mindset. Make sure that people are empowered to use their training, judgment, and experience to do what is right. Creating an ownership mindset within an organization also leads to better self- monitoring and accountability.

In my experience working as a consultant, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of invest- ing in people and the costs of failing to do so. To best perform, business leaders and employees should seek to develop and expand knowledge of their individual work and their industry. Organizations that invest in development will have better employ- ee engagement, increased job satisfaction and employee retention, and overall better performance results.

As a leader, you are both a compass for the organization and also a bridge between the individual employees and the organization. Be the model of the kind of behavior you expect from others around you. Communicate often and in various ways how employees’ individual contributions help the success of the entire organization. Effective leaders recognize that collective success is realized through the achievements of individuals.

Finally, never ignore your inner voice. Follow your principles, values, and code of ethics to ensure you’re doing the right thing. Ultimately, your professional life is an extension of you and everything you have learned in life. Great leaders know that you must continually reflect, learn, and evolve to grow personally and professionally.

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

In order to succeed and stay competitive in my industry, it is necessary to develop professional relationships with others, both male and female. Addition- ally, collaborate externally across industries to create a powerful support network where you can add value. Find a mentor who can help you navigate internal politics, understand internal culture, and be your biggest supporter in work circles.

Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?

The person that had the greatest impact on my career and life was my grandfather Charlie Hughes. He taught me many important values, including respect, honesty, and integrity. He also demonstrated throughout his life how to be calm under pressure and build mutually beneficial professional relationships. He taught me the importance of education. His love of history, and the stories he told, taught me many life lessons and fueled my curiosity about what could be.