The two people who had the earliest and largest influence on me were my parents, who were also my biggest role models. My father is a licensed public accountant who worked long and hard when my siblings and I were growing up. My mother, who is an absolutely amazing woman, left her ten-year career to raise five children. If nothing else, my parents taught me how to lead and work hard. They’ve been atremendous influence on me during my more than twenty-year career.
After college, I was fortunate to be able to enroll in one of MetLife’s career development programs—an outstanding opportunity for me to learn and grow professionally. I was able to rotate through various areas within MetLife’s national accounts and group insurance businesses.
On top of this, I’ve had great mentors. I was fortunate to be able to benefit and learn from their broad business knowledge. Today, I want to be able to do for others what was done for me, so mentoring others is something that I really take to heart. I truly believe that we learn from everyone, but what you need to do is look for the thought leaders in an organization. Also, identify people who really know their business; share what you know; and never underestimate the value of networking.
And while mentors are great, everyone needs to be an active manager of his or her own career. Sometimes, people will tap you on the shoulder with that next, great offer; but sometimes you need to be proactive and get out of your comfort zone. That may not necessarily mean finding a new job—just taking on some new responsibilities.
Finally, to be successful, I’ve found that you need people with diverse perspectives. There have been a number of businesses that I inherited at MetLife where we really needed to take a step back and think through a problem or challenge. It’s important to have talented people around you that you can pull together to take a fresh look at the business. You need to find out what’s going well, and what things need to change; then prioritize tasks to move the business forward. After all, the lessons you learn today just may help you tackle the challenges of tomorrow.