A life long Iowan, I began my career at Rockwell Collins in 1977 as an administrative assistant. At the time, I was working on my undergraduate degree in business majoring in accounting. Now, after more than 30 years of continued service at Rockwell Collins,I hold a graduate degree in finance as well as the position of vice president, finance and controller.

In the years since I began my career, I grew in experience and leadership through a variety of positions, including financial analyst; manager, customer financing; and manager, financial planning. These roles allowed me to build the skills and relationships necessary to lead the finance organization at a major aerospace and defense company.

My contributions to Rockwell Collins do not end with my work. In 2006, I was provided the opportunity to serve as the first executive sponsor for Rockwell Collins’ Women’s Employee Network, an employee-run group that supports professional growth. The network sponsors events, informal mentoring and career development resources. Also, the network played a key role in the expansion of the Rockwell Collins day care program, which is now one of the largest employer-supported daycares in the United States. The network has flourished, growing to more than 1,200 members in seven locations.

Along with my career, I have dealt with the challenges presented by raising two sons and battling breast cancer. These experiences brought me to an understanding of the importance of managing a healthy balance between work and life. I found out the hard way that focusing on work at the expense of my health brings dire consequences in the long run. Finding the appropriate mix of work and life outside Rockwell Collins helps me navigate through challenging situations in the office and at home.

I emphasize this message to those I mentor at Rockwell Collins, and it’s a theme of a statewide women’s conference I am chairing in 2011 called Choosing to Lead. The conference aims to help develop women leaders, to provide a networking opportunity and to encourage work-life balance. I hope these types of events will inspire more women to earn positions of leadership and strive for balance in their lives.