Fear not: Sometimes the toughest jobs are just what you need to grow and build confidence

Throughout the years, I have received a lot of advice; solicited and unsolicited, good and bad, forgotten and remembered. But the most impactful advice I received came in the form of feedback from a female boss many years ago. We worked in the heavily male dominated transportation industry, and she informed me that even though I did great work, I needed to develop more confidence.

She went on to inform me that I would be moving to a new position that had historically been held by men. The position consisted of leading a large, multi-shift team with seven direct reports, all of whom were male with the youngest being fifteen years my senior. It was a position that I would never have considered on my own. I thought she was crazy. Turns out, she was right; I did need more confidence and that position ended up being a catalyst for me both personally and professionally. During that time, I learned so much about building relationships and trust, the importance of setting expectations and holding people accountable, as well as managing with data and driving results. Looking back, I grew and stretched in ways that surprised me and gained confidence that allowed me to pursue other opportunities I might not have considered had I not been given that impactful feedback.

As a long-time employee at Union Pacific, I have had the privilege of working with many talented leaders and employees and have learned things from each one. As a leader, and as a recipient of strong leadership, I know I play a large role in helping all people have a pathway to achieve their potential. Feedback and coaching are essential as is learning new things and taking risks. At Union Pacific, I am active in our UpLift sponsorship program which pairs executives with high-potential diverse employees. In our community, I am proud to serve on the board of directors for the Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA) in Omaha who provide vital programming, education and prevention to address victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am grateful that others recognized my potential and helped me develop and I love having the opportunity to pay it forward!