Discover and exploit your strengths. Often we set unrealistic expectations and think we have to do it all and do it our way. Don’t be so hard on yourself or focus only on what you could have done better. Give yourself credit and reflect on your accomplishments, strengths, and knowledge, so that you can build on them.

I’ve learned as a mom, wife, and HR executive that it’s impossible to achieve “balance.” Instead, I constantly hone my ability to “juggle.” Sometimes family or personal obligations are higher priorities. At other times, work becomes the main focus. Luckily, Applied Materials helps enable technology that makes mobile devices faster and more power-efficient, which makes it easier for me to juggle all the areas of my life!

Learn to use the resources around you. This is a valuable skill in our work lives that can also be applied to other areas. It’s okay to need other people and let them help you. Those who truly want to help will appreciate the opportunity to contribute.

Don’t let your gender hold you back or define what you can accomplish. Instead, take the time to reflect and have an open dialogue with male and female colleagues alike to better understand an issue or situation. This will foster an appreciation of different viewpoints and backgrounds, and help identify areas where you can improve.

If you’re just starting your career, keep your options open and develop yourself, whether through experiences or the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek expertise from others. They are usually more than willing to share, and the exchanges can be mutually beneficial.

Finally, be open to when it might be time to make a change. It might be time to move on if…
• You’re not learning anymore in your current position
• You feel it’s time to give your successor a chance
• For personal, family, or other reasons, you can no longer “juggle” effectively and still be successful in your current role/path

On Doing the Inner Work that Leads to Success
My fulfillment stems from reflecting on the non-work relationships in my life and how they have shaped who I am today.

My parents immigrated to the US from the Philippines. In addition to working hard themselves, they insisted I always do my best and set no limits to what I could accomplish. My dad showed me there were no limitations inherent in “being a girl”—my sister and I had to pump gas and service cars at his gas station just like his male employees. Meanwhile, my mom established a successful career in finance while raising three kids, making dinner every night, and helping my dad run his gas station.

My husband is another unconventional man in my life who has fully supported my career by establishing early on that we were a team in facing life and its challenges. This approach influenced him to find a programming job that allowed him to telecommute, so he could be with our three kids. His ability to work at home helped accommodate my work schedule, commute, and travel demands. He has been involved in every key career decision I have made, and he has enabled me to give a lot more to the companies and people I’ve worked with by being a great partner.

My children, and my large extended family, also inspire me. Because we had our children early in our marriage, they remember my husband and I working to put each other through college while taking care of them. Their pride in my accomplishments knows no bounds.

On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
It’s important to establish a foundation by earning at least an undergraduate degree. Continue learning and building on that knowledge with experience, further education and/or training. Varying experiences expose you to different scenarios, cultures, people, laws, policies/practices, companies, and challenges.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I have learned many lessons from managers, business partners, and colleagues—from my first part-time job in HR, to the CEO I report to today. They taught me not only about the HR profession, but more important, they taught me about leadership, business, and teamwork, and shared valuable knowledge regarding various industries and customers.

Early in my HR career, I had a mentor who pushed me to look at different roles within the company and helped me see things from a different perspective both professionally and personally. She was a role model to me because of how she excelled in her profession and as a leader in the company, despite battling an often debilitating disease.

For those seeking out a mentor, remember it’s important to feel empowered and drive the relationship to get what you want out of it. Set your own objectives and take charge.