When I finished college in 1978, I accepted a position as a management trainee. I selected this offer over others because I had the feeling that my new manager would be a great boss, and it turned out my instinct was right. He really cared about my career development, and he has been the yardstick against which I have measured all subsequent managers, and the standard I set for myself as a manager. I have learned something from every manager I ever had – some things good, and some things “what not to do.” One piece of advice I would give is to be self-aware and learn from your experiences.
When I am hiring, the “perfect candidate” is smart, honest, fair, willing to work hard and flexible. I can teach you everything else you need to know, but you must bring the basic building blocks with you.
I have a few favorite sayings, and one of them is “intellectual discipline, intellectual rigor, and intellectual honesty.” Be curious about how things work and how to make things better. Be open minded to change and different ideas. Be fair and always be honest with yourself and others, even when the truth is painful. When you understand the truth, you can act with conviction.
Get a good education. Put yourself in hock if you have to! Through work and loans, I personally financed my college education. I still use things I learned years ago. College helped me learn how to think; not what to think, but how to think. This is the best investment I ever made.
Practice moderation. That’s how you’ll be able to balance a career and a family. Lose the guilt – it’s a waste of energy. Just do your best and things will work out. Optimism is underrated and entirely too scarce.
I have seen a lot of changes over these past three decades. Now, it’s rare that I am the only woman in the room, and that is a refreshing change. Don’t let folks who are uncomfortable with diversity stand in your way. Persevere, because talent and hard work will win out.