If someone had asked me 25 years ago what I wanted to be remembered for professionally, I would have responded like every other graduate: to make a difference in the world. Looking back, I probably didn’t understand what that meant. Twenty-five years later, I’d like to think I do. On my way to a successful career in consulting, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor young women and men looking for their own paths and to make a tangible difference in their lives. In following the example my mentors set for me, my professional and personal life has also been greatly enriched.
A good consultant is an educator, mentor and team builder. We listen. We are sensitive to the human dynamic and know how to work with very diverse groups of people to achieve common goals.
I realized early in my career that a successful consultant employs these skills both with colleagues at their own firm and with the clients who engage them. Consultants can make the best suggestions in the world, but if clients aren’t engaged enough to execute them, we have wasted their time and money. Team-building, mutual respect and a willingness to listen are essential. Solutions are only realized when ownership is shared and everyone takes pride in success.
In my 30s I became the first female board member of the consultancy I was with. At that firm, my mentors, including Frank Loewald and Margaret Regan, provided me with opportunities and ensured that I was judged for my skills and abilities and never pigeonholed. I can vividly recall the first time Frank told me I would lead a major client assignment. I can also remember Margaret’s open door and the steady guidance she provided. Those relationships impressed upon me the importance of nurturing the careers of others while your own progresses at the same time.
As the mother of two sons, the divide between work and home has always been a bit blurry when it comes to providing support and guidance. It’s sometimes hard to tell from which side of the work/ life divide that I’ve gained the most knowledge. I feel fortunate to have learned how the simple acts of listening and demonstrating confidence in a person can make a meaningful difference in their life and your own.