I believe leadership and the style in which you lead is only authentic if gathered from your experiences and who you are as a person. Every experience I have had throughout my career has shaped who I am today, and the events and circumstances that I continue to encounter will impact my leadership style. I view it as an endless opportunity for growth. While the way I lead will continue to evolve, there are some key insights that I share with those I mentor both within and outside of the company.

You develop a personal brand; you must protect it. Whether you realize it or not, your actions and decisions shape your personal brand, which impacts how you are viewed by others. As you progress in your career, it is important that you consistently match your actions with your values. At the foundation of these values must be your moral and ethical code. When challenged with a conflict, think before you act, and ensure that you feel good about your decision.

Be true to yourself as a leader. More than twenty years ago, a manager gave me this advice, and it has stayed with me throughout the years. While you can learn from observing great leaders or reading about leadership skills, don’t fake or try to be someone or something you aren’t. If you do, you won’t be comfortable as a leader and others will not believe you. Be honest with yourself and others to gain the respect and trust of those around you.

Be passionate and proactive. Many people have strong résumés. Those that excel, and often are sought-after for advancement opportunities, are those that show a passion for what they do and are proactive in learning and contributing. Ask questions to understand the implications and purpose of the work you are doing, and how it impacts everything else. Go beyond what is being asked of you.

Finally, realize the value of your team. A leader cannot be successful without a strong team. A priority of mine is to recognize the contributions and commitment of those I work with, and celebrate success as a team. Seek out new ways to motivate and inspire, and make sure you continuously communicate, soliciting feedback often.

How has education affected your career?

My formal education was critically important in establishing my career in finance and providing the opportunity to be hired into a leadership development program at Raytheon. The learning that has continued after graduation has been instrumental in both my career and my life outside of work.

What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?

Spend the time and effort to establish and maintain a strong network. The relationships you build, with those above, below, or at your current level, become very important as you progress through your career. Seek out mentors to gain diverse perspectives. As you progress into higher positions, spend time mentoring those that follow you, and also consider reverse mentoring. These experiences have been rewarding for me.