Reflecting on my professional journey, I offer three pieces of advice to those entering the workforce. Take the time to develop yourself and your people. Share your vision and passion; it fuels commitment, creativity and confidence in others. Lastly, challenge yourself to venture into unfamiliar territory.
While each of these principles has led me to success, the third is very important. When evaluating career opportunities, women sometimes undersell themselves when the position requires a new skill set or involves engaging in an unfamiliar domain. Moving out of your comfort zone can lead to unexpected opportunities that fuel your career advancement.
I share this because it worked for me. Throughout my career, I’ve embraced projects that were not always high profile or completely aligned with my experience, but were important to the business.
At the beginning of my career as a pharmacist, I stepped up and led the computerization of our network of clinic pharmacies. I successfully accomplished this, despite my limited experience with technology and senior management’s doubts that the change would be beneficial to the business. Upon completion, I realized that I had gained a new domain of knowledge in an emerging area, exposure to people in other areas of the clinic, negotiation skills and the confidence of my supervisor and colleagues.
As my career progressed, other opportunities to build new skills and explore new markets presented themselves. While working for a national retail pharmacy chain, I successfully built and managed a national business of closed shop pharmacies dedicated to long-term care, despite the fact that neither my organization nor I had previous experience in this market. In my current role, I have had the opportunity to grow Medco’s Medicare Part Dprogramfromasimpleprojectinto an important line of business for the company. In both examples, the career choices I made helped me to gain experience and advancement that would not have been available to me if I had stayed on a more traditional path.
Commitment to lifelong learning and development improves your chances to be a successful leader. My final advice to each of you is to maintain perspective; you will be remembered for your results for a short time, but you are remembered for your interaction with and treatment of people for a lifetime.