Careers can be planned, but a willingness to take risks opens doors for you in ways you never thought possible. In high school I was convinced that I had a calling to go into the medical field. However, a work experience program in a hospital made me realize I should pursue an alternative course, fast! So I turned to another area of interest – economics and business. Learning to adapt early and quickly taught me that I could make choices and follow my interests with confidence.
While confidence is good, you need to back it up, so gather as much experience and knowledge as you can. I’ve always challenged myself to do more, and a healthy dose of curiosity helps! Whether it’s learning about products, visiting customers, or discovering new uses for technology, there is always more you can learn. I know more about routers and operating systems and the technology innovation process than I ever imagined. Now, when we discuss strategy, market needs, and organizational structure, I have a deeper understanding of the business which enables me to be the best business partner possible.
And it is imperative that we practice global partnering by building organizations reflective of the diverse nature of our business landscape. While there may be challenges in managing a global organization, the opportunities it offers make for rich personal experiences and a much better business outcome. Having the skills to manage and partner across borders is key to success in today’s environment.
Finally, it’s important to seek out mentors along the way, and it’s equally important to be a mentor. Finding the courage to take risks is difficult and having the support and guidance of a mentor can help. I’ve been fortunate to have several in my life. As I lead my organization, I believe a key focus of my role is to encourage everyone to grow beyond their expectations.
My career plan did not specifically call for leaving Australia and becoming the CFO of a large corporation; however flexibility and the willingness to take a few risks has led to an incredible career. Be open to all possibilities, and intentional about your choices. Along the way, you will gather experiences, relationships and knowledge that combine to open paths that were unexpected and yet, when you look back, were exactly right for you at the time.