Throughout my career, I have had a number of valuable mentors who have contributed to my professional and personal growth. Looking back, each one has had a unique and lasting impact. Some have coached me to look for new opportunities and others have encouraged me to continually extend my capabilities and set my goals higher.

While I enjoyed and learned from mentoring relationships, I found that informal relationships with my peers gave me a window into diverse perspectives and a deeper understanding of my own. Often times, having a simple cup of coffee with a colleague unearths a new way of looking at a situation and helps solve a complex problem with a simple idea. You should never miss an opportunity to leverage the expertise of your peers because establishing a level of personal comfort in your working relationships fosters the greatest collaboration.

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to work in a technologyrelated field. I started out as a programmer in college and I combined those skills with my entrepreneurial drive and became an independent consultant. Gaining credibility as a young woman in a field that at the time was dominated by men wasn’t as challenging as one may think. It never bothered me to be the only female in the room. Having confidence in your work, maintaining a positive attitude and demonstrating that you are a team player can make a big difference in how you are accepted, in any situation.

My career path has shown me how important it is to be flexible and to take on new opportunities. Prior to joining PG&E, I stepped outside of my traditional information technology role to pursue an opportunity in mergers and acquisitions. Having the opportunity to learn all aspects and functions of business operations has been invaluable to me today in my role of CIO and I’ve learned that sometimes you have to grow outward to grow upward.

As a leader, work-life balance can be a challenge. Flexibility is key to learning how to properly focus your attention on all the moving parts in your life. My advice to young women is to learn to be fully engaged with the present. I don’t like to be preoccupied with a work issue when I’m talking to my family, or vice versa. Making yourself completely available to the task at hand can help you move forward toward reaching your goals.