From a freshman engineering class of 5 percent women to leading the supply chain organization for a global corporation, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact diversity of thought, talent, and background can bring to any organization.
While it’s now widely recognized that companies with the most gender diverse management teams outperform the industry average, women in the workplace can still face obstacles that hamper our ability to thrive. While some of those challenges are certainly unique, the need to overcome challenges is something that employees of both genders, all backgrounds, and different levels face at some point in their careers.
Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors and advocates—both men and women—who have helped me navigate challenges and evaluate opportunities. A common theme in their counsel has been to move past the obsessive inward view that leads us to imagine ourselves as the center of everything and thus take everything personally. By taking a larger view of organizational dynamics, we free ourselves to focus on the tasks that help us persevere to achieve our highest potential in work and life—whatever that might be for each of us.
Perhaps this is why talent development is a true passion of mine. Organizations are made up of people, and while not everyone will be equally talented, high-performing teams are created when each team member performs at his or her best. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to develop all of our talent and eliminate impediments to success. By eliminating negative influences and helping everyone believe in the organization’s strategy, we create the best-performing teams possible—teams where members from all backgrounds thrive and deliver the most value for the organization and themselves.
Certainly as individuals and employees we must take responsibility for our futures. At times we will find ourselves facing obstacles that seem beyond our control and threaten to keep us from achieving our potential. Yet, ultimately the only one who can truly impede you is you. Regardless of the decisions we make, we as individuals have the power to affect the change that controls our destiny.
To succeed, be tenacious in pursuit of excellence. My advice is to over-deliver on results, stay true to yourself, and surround yourself with diverse and committed people who share your dreams.
How has education affected your career?
Engineering education has been critical to my success. Engineers are taught to develop pragmatic, data-driven approaches to problem solving. Projects must be complete and no design concept survives without updates to resolve unexpected issues. Learning early on to find alternative solutions and concepts to resolve issues has been paramount to my success.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Find work that stirs your passion and then over-deliver on results. If the work you are doing is uninteresting or uninspiring take a risk and find something better. Your performance will improve and rewards will follow.