When I reflect on my career at Highmark, I am reminded that success is a winding journey consisting of hard work, lifelong learning opportunities and developing interactions with others inside and outside the workplace.
Mentoring relationships can propel your career to the next level, but they don’t need to be in the traditional formal sense. They can develop anywhere and with anyone who can offer constructive feedback and who genuinely wants you to succeed. My mother helped me at one point in my career by providing insight on how I could react effectively to challenges in learning how to manage others. As a result, I am a big believer that all of us can learn something from anyone.
In 1981, there was a visible lack of women in leadership positions at Highmark. Over time however, things changed, and as the company changed, I had to learn things that would eventually take my career to the next level.
For starters, it’s important to be open and honest with yourself in terms of abilities. Look for opportunities to stretch and grow your skills. Do what you can to develop those skills, including taking training programs and public speaking opportunities. I still read business oriented and leadership books and apply the concepts to my workday. Every day is an opportunity to reflect upon our interactions by reviewing what we’ve learned and what we might want to change.
It’s also important to develop a broad background. Sometimes people will not move throughout a company unless it’s for a promotion or bigger salary. I believe it’s good to consider a lateral move in order to gain exposure and build competencies.
The key is to recognize your skills and surround yourself with others whose strengths and perspectives are different than yours. The combination is better than being on your own. Remember to give back as well. One of the most rewarding things at this stage in my career is looking at how others I may have influenced have grown and risen through the corporation.
I am fortunate to work for a progressive company such as Highmark. The lessons I learned growing up with five siblings provided me with a strong work ethic built on determination, trust and hard work while having fun along the way. I hope to build on these same principles for years to come.