Who You Are Is the Best Person You Could Choose to Be

Over the years, I have sat on many panels and been involved in a multitude of conferences, where I have spoken regarding my own experience as a female professional and given advice to women with respect to finding professional success.

First, I think that it’s important to be true to yourself and not to adopt a persona—including a masculine persona—that is not you. Be confident in your ability to be successful being the person that you are, not the person that you believe others expect you to be.

Do not be afraid to talk about your strengths and achievements, and take credit for your accomplishments. Additionally, adopt your own style of leadership. I personally have found that I have had more success achieving consensus and leading teams when I work at recognizing others’ interests, as well as my own, rather than focusing on positions.

Second, I think that it is extremely important to develop relationships and, in particular, find a mentor who you can rely on for advice and support in your career. I was lucky enough to have a law professor—who later became principal counsel for negotiation of NAFTA and eventually, Special Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Canadian Prime Minister—take me under his wing 35 years ago. His guidance was fundamental to my success, and I believe that mentors, generally, are invaluable.

Third, and finally, I would encourage women who are starting or building their careers to identify their strengths and capitalize on them. Take on projects and assignments that will highlight those strengths and skills (but certainly do not turn down, or not go for others, that may be somewhat out of your comfort zone). Be firm in setting boundaries, so as not to compromise yourself and your family.

In conclusion, remember your priorities, ask for what you want, set your own style, recognize talent, and surround yourself with the best.