My parents encouraged their children to shoot for the stars. We all became successful professionals. I started college at age 16 and paid my own way.

I began my career at Ford Motor Company, where I learned from the most knowledgeable people in the business. They took me under their wing and in turn I’ve mentored others throughout my career.

To succeed in the traditionally male-dominated auto industry I’ve had to blaze my own trail. I did it by holding myself to the highest standards and motivating those who work for me to stretch professionally—to be the best they can be.

As a communications professional for 30 years, providing strategic counsel to executives is an inherent part of my job. I’ve had to present honest and sometimes tough messages to coach upcoming leaders to reach their full potential. I’ve guided colleagues on skill sets and experience they need—like contin- uing their education—to take them to the next level.

Great leaders successfully collaborate with peers, manage subordinates and exemplify teamwork. As mentors, we must raise the bar with the highest level of professionalism, even in stressful situations. If your colleagues trust and respect you they will deliver for you.

Empowerment is a hallmark of my leadership style. I don’t micro- manage. I give people the tools to succeed and then watch them shine. They’ve told me that my open door policy gives them the support they need to help them work through the obstacles along the way.

To thrive in the business world people must create and execute a career plan. I’m proud that so many of my colleagues whom I’ve mentored are now in senior communications positions in global Fortune 500 companies. I still mentor them to this day. My advice: Add value every day; measure results not activity.

My successful mentoring method is to share war stories of what works and what doesn’t to have a fruitful career. I continue to be passionate about what I do and enjoy every day.