Knowing when to make the leap to a new role is not something that I have spent many cycles analyzing. For me, the “when” is when the need presents itself. I’ve been with Booz Allen Hamilton for 25 years, in numerous positions, and when new roles opened up and I had the opportunity to fill them, I was pleased to take them on. Understanding the business needs, being open to new challenges, and stepping in to contribute where I can makes work fun and interesting.
However, I have to admit that there have been times when my approach has left me feeling overwhelmed—especially during transitions from one role to another. So, how have I worked through that? Simply shifting my mindset from what “I” need to do to what my “team” needs to do has changed my approach toward doing the work, and enabled me to get more done.
Here is a simple exercise that may help you decide whether it’s time to make a leap of your own.
Write down your current responsibilities (inside and outside work). Then, ask yourself three simple questions: 1) Do I have a team in place to help? 2) Have I engaged them along the way so they know what to do? and 3) Are they motivated to help me? If the answer to all three questions was “yes,” my bet is that your team will get you through your leap! If not, start building your team today.
If I had to advise women about how to know when to make a move, I’d say, “Don’t overthink it.” If the opportunity sounds interesting, take it. Seek advice from others who have similar roles and learn from them. Don’t feel as if you have to do it alone—build your team and go for it.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
The ability to build strong teams, and motivate them to focus their energy and intellect on meeting your goals and objectives, is key to being successful and staying competitive.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I am fortunate to have had many mentors who offered advice and support throughout my career. John Newman, who was a senior partner at Booz Allen, stands out as someone who helped me and taught me just how powerful a mentor can be.
When I was a senior associate, John asked me to take on the leadership of a large program. He met with me every week to discuss the project and work through any challenges. At each meeting, he pushed me to try new approaches and step up my game.
Those conversations helped me change my mind set. Today, as I take on mentees, I often reflect on how he invested his time with me. And do my best to offer the same support to others.
On Facing Challenges
It is difficult for me to point to my “hardest challenge” because there have been dozens. They have been related to a variety of issues, including managing work load, learning new responsibilities, dealing with complex problems, and managing relationships. In my opinion, the most important thing to remember when you hit a tough moment is to face your challenge head on. Don’t shy away and don’t feel as though you have to solve it alone. Seek advice, ask for help, and stick with it.
Judith’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
My advice to young women preparing for careers is this: Take advantage of the opportunities that life gives you. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to engage or for the complete answer to come to you. It’s unlikely things will work out that way. Just jump in and get involved with things that interest you in areas where you know you can make a difference. Start today, and enjoy the journey.