What Does Career Advancement Mean?

I never considered myself ambitious when it came to my career goals or advancement, especially if it meant climbing the career ladder. If I were asked what I would like to become five years ago, I would not have imagined myself in my current leadership and management position. Instead, I have always dreamed about working in a role where I can apply my skills and knowledge, where friendly and intelligent people surround me, and where I can be inspired to learn new things and push my limits. I want to be excited about waking up every morning, looking forward to another exciting day at work, and solving another intriguing challenge. I am driven by challenging work, big and small, not so much by career advancement.

I believe in having a fulfilling and satisfying career by simply following your heart. Armed with this belief, I started as a postdoctoral researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory nine years ago. I worked tirelessly trying to find answers to the fundamental properties of materials. Then I became interested in improving my hands-on technical skills, so I started working in SLAC’s LCLS Technical Support Department. Later, I was interested in X-ray optics, so I moved to the LCLS Engineering Department. All this time, I worked alongside friendly and intelligent people who believed in me and trusted me with exciting job opportunities.

Eventually, I worked in many different technical areas, while gaining precious work experience and knowledge. Gradually, I became interested in helping and inspiring people. I was offered my current position, where I lead a diverse team of engineers. It is challenging work, but it is a challenge that motivates me to learn about people. It also inspires me to help them with their career goals. I would encourage my staff and others who want my advice to explore their passion, because working with something that motivates them is the key to success. The rest will fall into place, naturally.