My leadership journey began at home. As the firstborn, my mom placed the responsibility of being a role model on me. I was a curious child, a giver by nature, and a voracious reader with a vivid imagination. Preoccupied with what I wanted to do when I grew up, I became goal oriented and sought out opportunities to learn and participate early in life.
My first taste of formal leadership happened in the seventh grade when I became home room president. The role included a leadership class, which nurtured a spirit of service that has continued throughout my life. I continue to be engaged in philanthropy—often in leadership roles—and look for ways to serve colleagues and clients at work.
I believe that your attitude determines how much you will succeed. Success is relative and defined by you. I took that attitude with me into the corporate world, along with a belief in abundance. Over the years, a combination of hard work, willingness to take on new projects, and a history of strong execution has led to continuous growth with successive promotions.
Throughout my career, I have often taken on roles that were out of my comfort zone. I thrive on collaborating, building relationships, and working in teams, which all help me learn new things about myself. My journey has been exciting. I enjoy watching talent I’ve helped develop succeed, including seeing my daughter complete college.
Early on, I realized there were three things about me that could either be obstacles or advantages: my youthful appearance, being a woman, and being an African American. I chose to see them as advantages. As someone who was often the first in a role, I became skilled at asking difficult questions. I learned to listen and offer mutually beneficial situations, invest in myself, and know when to move on.
I gained tremendous wisdom from my colleagues and elders, who advised me to: “Know when to fold ‘em”; “Keep your finger on revenue as you climb”; “To thine own self be true”; and most notably, “The difference between success and failure is success got up one more time.”
Without support and my belief in abundance, I would just be surviving, rather than thriving, as I am today.
How has education affected your career?
Education has and continues to feed my curiosity about business, people, and how they make choices. It has provided me with the tools to think critically that has led to a level of creativity, flexibility, and productivity that continues to propel my career.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Embrace yourself as a business. Seek to understand your business and keep yourself informed. Build your brand, stay relevant, and build your own board of directors/team to guide you and always ensure you bring value.