My road to the C-suite in a Fortune 200 company was a combination of a defined plan, excellent mentors, timely advice and the ability to adapt to the opportunities and challenges that presented themselves. Early in my career, I identified the core competencies of leaders I admired. These competences included technical and interpersonal skills as well as embracing diversity and international experiences. The more experiences, the more effective the executive. I counseled with mentors on my shortcomings and pursued each next step in my career to round out my skill set.
The route did not evolve as originally planned, but when taken off the path, I always remained focused on how each opportunity could be used to gain the experiences I needed for the end game. With each career move, it was important to be able to see the effort and work come to fruition so it could truly be a learning experience and, most importantly, to reflect on what was successful and what should have been done differently. Rounding out my skills did not always mean a promotion to the next level. With my eye on the end game, I often made lateral moves to achieve the portfolio of skills that I have today.
The path I took to a senior executive-level position started with my first goal to become a vice president. To get to my first vice president level title, I consciously sought out positions in each functional area that the vice president oversaw. Just as important was using my manager, mentors and 360-degree feedback mechanisms to develop leadership skills. This approach worked well, so I deployed the same strategy to get my first operating president role. This entailed pursuing lateral roles in areas in which I had no direct experience and included special assignments that gave me international exposure. This skills portfolio approach worked well again as I was named chief strategy officer for Arrow.
The path to success will take many turns. The most effective way to navigate them is to be prepared with a diverse set of applicable experiences and always keep the end game in mind. This results in effective decision-makers that can lead with confidence.