After spending the past 25 years working at Ford, I have moved from being an analyst to my current executive position, managing employees around the world. The journey has had several defining moments—challenges I could not have imagined—but most importantly, personal and professional growth that i do not take for granted. Through the years, communication and relationships have been essential to my success.

starting as an individual contributor working through, and with, others, to leading an organization of 3500+, I have learned the value of honest communication. Communicating is the hardest and most important thing we do. An honest answer is the best response, even if that answer is “I don’t know”. Tough times in the automotive industry have tested us, and open communication has been key in moving forward with deliberation and respect. Often there are hard choices, stretch deadlines, and difficult trade-offs—as leaders, we can act decisively and swiftly, utilizing open communications. Whether news is good, bad, or indifferent, people want to know what is happening—and that eliminates the fear of the unknown.

Being part of a global team has highlighted the importance of communication. By traveling and listening, I have recognized cultural differences and seen things from perspectives I would have never imagined. I continue to learn more each day.

For me, relationship building is the most productive and personally satisfying aspect of success. I have found that entering relationships without preconceived ideas works best. Over time, people show you their capabilities, motivations, and who they really are. People never cease to amaze me with their dedication and abilities. Picturing yourself in the other person’s role is the start of building a strong relationship. There is nothing more satisfying than working to achieve common goals.

Success has not been a one-woman feat; in fact, just the opposite. I often tell my team that “an assist is as good as a goal.” This is very true in my own life. I would not have gotten where I am today without the support of my professional team of employees, peers, bosses, and mentors, and my personal team of family and friends. The saying that “it takes a village” has certainly been true for me—a professional village at work; and a village of family, friends, and neighbors that help me make the complex fabric of “work-life integration” work.