I believe that business leaders—women and men—must have the courage and conviction to share their voices and serve as agents for change where they see opportunity. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to maintain a high level of curiosity and consistently challenge the status quo. By doing so, I’ve been able to demonstrate a passion for my work and a continual interest in helping strengthen our business by asking tough questions and offering alternative ideas. As you think about your career—what you hope to achieve and what matters to you personally and professionally—consider these leadership principles, which have served me well:

• Always be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, which includes being innovative in the way you think. Always consider the future.
• Be curious. Knowledge is power, so always be in learning mode.
• Lead by example. Be willing to make tough decisions, but also be fair and trustworthy, because your word is your reputation.
• Be passionate. Find your cause, and then live it with conviction. That’s how you convince others to believe in what you are trying to achieve and to support the change you are trying to enact.
• Never be satisfied and never get comfortable with the way things are. They can always be better, even if they are good now. Focus on continuous improvement.
• Finally, surround yourself with positive influences that help push you to do your best.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
CenturyLink CEO Glen Post has had a huge impact on me personally and on my career. He demonstrates fair but strong leadership based on integrity and trust. He also stresses having a good work/life balance. Glen has a very clear vision for the company and has always focused on growth in an industry where growth is challenging. He has a long tenure at CenturyLink, which demonstrates loyalty, and he upholds the legacy established by our company’s founder. Glen is my role model, when it comes to vision, integrity, and a continuous focus on leadership based on our company’s values and culture.

Allison’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
You’ll contribute your best work if you are passionate about your job. Seek ways to apply your skills in different areas. I started my career in IT, transitioned to an operations role, and now serve in a technical and engineering leadership position. Taking on these roles has allowed me to learn and grow as a person and a professional.

Also, be willing to make a lateral move if it will broaden your exposure, knowledge, and expertise.

Finally, I’ve never thought of myself as a woman building a career; I’m a professional building a career. I encourage young people not to become distracted or inhibited by gender.