I believe success is possible, but not easy. For me, it’s been about hard work, making the right choices and taking chances. I believe success is dependent on your ability to know your strengths and developmental needs and working to make them better. It’s about never compromising your beliefs, but being adaptable enough to change when change is needed. And most importantly, success is about being able to make a difference—to give back to family, work and the community.

I’ve never worried about race or gender, because those are realities—they are who I am. I realized early on that there would be challenges but that I would need to stay focused on what I could control. I can’t control individuals who view me through filters; I can only stay focused on getting the job done. Because I believe doing the right thing ultimately prevails, this has worked for me.

For women who aspire to be leaders, I’ll share some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Never compromise on getting the job done.
  • Competence is required, both technical and leadership.
  • Stand up for what you believe.
  • Be willing to give and accept honest feedback. Some of my best learning came from people who cared enough to give me honest feedback.
  • Surround yourself with talented people and empower them to do their best work.
  • Be optimistic and positive—people will respond better to you.
  • Have a network of mentors outside of your place of employment. They provide invaluable perspective.
  • Be a mentor to others, either formally or informally. There are countless people throughout my career who helped me learn a new skill, welcomed me to a new role, gave me opportunities to work on projects, provided a listening ear, or just believed in me.