My career is rooted in my need for variety. However, the same is not true in my personal life, where I will soon celebrate 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.
Throughout my career, there have been many people who have helped me get to where I am today and still help me as my career continues. I selectively cultivate relationships with other professionals, both men and women, and together we serve as trusted advisors and confidants for each other.
My career began as a high school English teacher. I loved teaching, but after seven years I realized that I could not teach the same literature and grammar lessons for the next several decades. While looking for something different to do, I ended up going to law school. I taught English during the day and attended classes at night for the next four-and-a-half years.
After law school, I obtained my first legal job clerking for an Indiana Supreme Court judge. Two years later, I began working in the legal department of a relatively small health insurance company that would eventually become WellPoint. In my 25 years at WellPoint, I have never had to seek variety because it has always come looking for me and I have thrived.
About two-and-a-half years ago I made a major career change within WellPoint, transitioning from a staff role to an operations position as president of the Federal Government Solutions business unit. The change has been energizing and has allowed me to learn something new every day.
My career advice to others is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Volunteer to take on a new assignment, even if you don’t know much about it. Build your network of colleagues and ask for feedback. Once you receive feedback, listen to it and act upon it. Be yourself, and learn from the best and worst of others as you observe them. Work hard. Keep every single commitment that you make. If you do this, you will build enormous credibility among others and become known as a reliable person. Be a problem solver. Learn how to influence others. Have confidence and be positive. You will have to take some risk in your careers, but often it will generate a significant return.
What I enjoy most at this stage in my career is helping other people become more successful. Mentoring is an obligation and not just a nice thing to do.