My career path is best characterized by a well-known Beatles song, The Long and Winding Road—definitely a journey with many twists, turns, and lessons. Throughout my career I have learned valuable lessons including:
Be yourself and encourage others to do the same. My “career” began at age 14, working in an atypical job for girls my age—I was answering phones, filing, and selling refrigeration equipment. Not many other 14-year-old girls studied pressure temperature charts and condensing units! Customers knew this and often asked to speak to “one of the guys.” With patience and the support of a great boss, I eventually convinced customers to ask for me if they wanted quality service. It’s not always easy being different, but I’ve learned that our differences bring valuable insights and perspectives that may not otherwise be considered.
Take risks—calculated, of course. Early in my career, my husband accepted an overseas assignment. Having never been to Europe, we were excited about the adventure. I was fortunate to find a new position with new responsibilities, while moving our two girls to new schools to meet new friends. This was a big change for our family, yet the perspective I gained, both personally and professionally, was immeasurable and still serves me well today.
Value adversity and learn from it. One of my most challenging experiences at Vanguard was responding to the impact the September 11th terrorist attacks had on our company—when our nation was under immense emotional stress. But challenging circumstances provide incredible opportunities to learn about business, people, and ourselves.
Make thoughtful choices in balancing work and home life. People often ask how I do it all—have a career and family, and stay involved in outside interests. My response, “I don’t do it all and that’s okay!” I’ve made career choices that were in line with my priorities at the time. As a new mom, I left a promising accounting career for a part-time role to spend more time with my children. When my children were older, I chose to devote more time to my career. While the level of responsibility in my professional roles has varied to complement my personal life, my commitment to excelling in each role has been unwavering.
Mentors are a must. Find them and be one! Working at Vanguard, I have the privilege of serving as adjunct faculty and mentor for leadership training programs. I’ve learned that leadership is as much about inspiring others as it is about learning from those around you. Inevitably, I get more from these programs than I give.
And most importantly, never compromise on ethics and integrity.