Women leaders’ career paths frequently take many directions, which has certainly been the instance with me. However, these “diversions” have produced some of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my work and personal life.
I did not devote too much energy mapping out a detailed long-term career plan. In one of his songs, John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That is what I emphasize to other people. The more adaptable you are, and willing to learn, the happier you will be.
My career began in accounting, and moved through numerous finance positions and across multiple business lines. I am now chief of staff for the seventh-largest full-service securities firm in the U.S. I have been fortunate that in the last eighteen years I did not need to leave my company to gain different career experiences. I encourage all women not to focus too much on progressing to the next logical step on the corporate ladder. Rather, be willing to take new opportunities—they can help you develop and hone the leadership skills which will help you gain future advancement.
When I have encountered obstacles, I have been privileged to have a support network of peers and friends whose advice I trust. This network has proven to be invaluable to my growth, both personally and professionally.
Additionally, I have had many mentors who have impacted me significantly by providing guidance and enabling me to overcome challenges in my life and career. Some of this mentoring was formal, while others were unintentional—they may not have even realized I was watching and learning from them. Now, I find that one of my most important responsibilities is to be a mentor.
Ultimately, I have learned that one thing you can always rely on in business—and in life—is change. Embrace it!
Remaining adaptable, building relationships, learning from everyone, and welcoming change—these are essential components to overcoming obstacles. When you encounter unexpected challenges, be confident that you can manage them—and recognize that, far from impeding you, they can actually help you succeed.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
The person who has been a role model and had a profound impact on career is my mother.
As a child, I was able to see my mother’s career develop and flourish and witness the passion she had for what she was doing. She worked hard and, at times, had to work tirelessly to accomplish her goals. That made a significant impression on me and, although I didn’t know it at the time, helped me establish my own work standards and goals.
We lived in a small farming community so having an education was important to her. Although it was unspoken, I knew it was an expectation to succeed academically.
Someone once asked me what brought me to this industry coming from a small town and inspired me strive to be what I am today. I simply responded, “Because my parents and mother never told me I couldn’t.”