There is no perfect recipe for building a successful career. Rather, a career must be approached as an investment – it needs to be planned, nurtured and protected. This is one of the many lessons I’ve learned during my 33-year career. Some others that I can share are:
Learn from others; then deliver results. All professionals can benefit from being taught and guided by a mentor. My own mentors have helped me consider career goals, new opportunities and my portfolio of skills. I also feel strongly about mentoring others, particularly those in the middle of their career. Many of these budding leaders tell me they want to take on that next promotion to learn something new. My advice for them is that learning should not be the sole objective. Of course, take away learnings and always build knowledge. However, applying the knowledge and expertise you own to deliver results is the ultimate measure of success in the workplace.
Realistically consider both the future and the present. I’ve had the pleasure over the last dozen years of working for Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe. He introduced me to the Stockdale Paradox: “You must retain faith that you can prevail to greatness in the end, while retaining the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your current reality.” This philosophy is how U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Stockdale survived being held as a prisoner of war for more than seven years in North Vietnam. I embrace this philosophy, recognizing the importance of being confident yet realistic about the challenges facing you.
Embrace new opportunities. When I was in high school, I spent a year in Barcelona. The experience taught me to embrace new opportunities, be tolerant of differences and listen. I’ve worked as a chief financial officer in three different industries, and lead the business services, administrative, and diversity and inclusion functions at Exelon. Along the way, I broke through the proverbial “glass ceiling” a few times as the only female member of senior management.
Choose wisely. Exelon operates in a world rich in diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, experience and thought. I am fortunate to work at a company where the commitment to diversity and inclusion is an essential part of our culture and values. I encourage others to seek out similarly minded organizations to grow and develop professionally.