If you’re the only woman in the room, work your hardest, don’t be shy and and be yourself

Every woman knows what it feels like to be the only woman in the room. I have been there often, as I started my career in a male-dominated industry, sometimes as the sole woman on the team. Today, I am proud to be a leader at Kroll where over 50% of the top leadership positions in our business services division are held by women. While the conference rooms look different today, I have had an incredible journey to get here, filled with amazing bosses, mentors, and peers who have invested in me, believed in me, and presented me with opportunities that have skyrocketed my career. Here are a few of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

First, work hard in the beginning so you can thrive in the end. Whether it’s at the beginning of your career or when starting a new role – set yourself up for success. It’s important to work hard and be the best you can be. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and your work will speak for itself.

Second, build authentic relationships. Excellent work is just the baseline; I wouldn’t be where I am today without having cultivated meaningful relationships along the way. The best opportunities often come from connections that you’ve genuinely nurtured, not from recruiters.

Third, invest in female connections. There’s no one else better positioned to understand what you’re experiencing and how to navigate it than another woman. Seek out support from other women, and then take what you’ve learned and pay it forward.

Fourth, the definition of success will change throughout your career. Sometimes success looks like landing that premier job where you know you’ll be working long hours and putting work first. Other times it looks like taking a risk and pivoting off the ‘traditional path’ to make a move that better aligns with your priorities.

Lastly, show up as yourself. I often show up to a meeting with a hot pink water bottle, but I also ask the toughest questions in the room. Don’t try to be anything but yourself.