When considering the challenges faced in my career, I pause to put them into perspective. My family consists of exceptionally strong women who forged new paths for working women. My mother was born in China and at the age of eighteen, came to the U.S. to attend college, build a successful career, and raise her family. My paternal grandmother created her own real estate agency in Northern California while raising two young children on her own after the untimely death of my grandfather. Their sometimes difficult journeys offered several valuable lessons that inspire me each day.
Build strong relationships and develop the people on your team. It is important to have strong support at home and in the workplace. When exploring new opportunities, don’t simply think about the role, think about the individuals you’ll be working with. Will your new manager have qualities you admire? Is he or she someone you can learn from? Is the team excited and engaged? What can you contribute to make the team better? My favorite positions all have one trait in common—a great team of engaged people.
Keep learning and improving. When a person decides they’ve learned enough, they’ve stopped growing. Seek out new information that challenges what you think you know and help those around you to do the same. As elementary as it sounds, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or more importantly, don’t be afraid to ask the right questions. If you think you’ve discovered a better way of doing things, be the inspiration for change. Generate engagement, leverage your strong relationships, bring the right people together, and find a sponsor.
Keep an open mind about new opportunities. When new opportunities arise, be willing to accept the challenge. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Instead, think about what you have to offer, how you can deliver great results, and deliver more value than expected. I credit much of my early career success to an ability to look at a new job description and ask, What else can I contribute to make this role even better for the company and me? Define your role, but don’t let it define you.
Successful women build strong relationships, keep growing, and gladly accept unfamiliar challenges as great opportunities. It worked for the women in my life, and it can work for you.
How has education affected your career?
Debate class strengthened my ability to speak in public and more importantly, taught me how to effectively approach problems from many different perspectives, a valuable professional skill.
Has discrimination affected you as a woman in the workplace? How did you deal with it?
It is important for men and women to work together to address this issue. As a mother of four sons, I feel strongly about my responsibility to educate them about women’s experiences in the workplace. In their professional careers, they will be better prepared to drive change and promote equality in the workplace.