About six years ago, after working in Orlando, FL, for about 15 years with the Lockheed Martin, Simulation, Training & Support organization, I was offered an opportunity to lead a large, highly visible program in a different business unit in New Jersey.
At the time, I was not looking for a change; I had held several increasingly responsible and challenging positions in Orlando, enjoyed great relationships with employees and customers, and raised two children there. In the new role, I would not know anyone, did not know the business, and was not familiar with the customer. I was concerned about my ability to break into the business and wondered how I could be successful starting from ground zero. Also, how would the move affect my family?
On the flip side, I knew (as did my mentors) that if I did not move beyond the business in Orlando, my ability to grow my career and increase my responsibilities would be limited.
I took the plunge, and I am glad I did! I learned to ask a lot of questions—even ones I thought might be perceived as dumb—which enabled me to come up to speed more quickly, and sometimes got the team thinking about things in a new way. I learned to depend more on others, because there were times I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I learned to balance empowerment with providing guidance, and my confidence in that area has helped me succeed in subsequent jobs. I grew my network, including my mentees.
I was surprised by the amount of energy I gained from making the change; I am still pumped, and completely open to change and new opportunities! I was also surprised to find my family grew and became more confident as a result of the change!
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
To succeed and remain competitive you must be willing to: 1) Ask for feedback often and commit to incorporating the feedback; 2) Proactively seek other viewpoints or opinions to avoid blind spots and develop better ideas or solutions; and 3) Learn from your mistakes to grow.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I have been fortunate throughout my career to have worked with and for some outstanding role models and mentors, and for that I will always be grateful; however, I truly believe my core strengths come from my parents. My mom taught me to be me and not someone else, and my father challenged me to do things I wasn’t sure I could do. I remember the day he left me with my car mechanic’s manual and a set of tools, and told me to change the water pump on my Honda.
Lisa’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Don’t be too prescriptive in your career goals, or the path for reaching them, or you may miss out on some great opportunities. Remain flexible, take risks, and stretch yourself.