When people ask me for career advice, I tell them they should develop a strong work ethic, follow their passion, and strive to build and maintain positive relationships throughout their personal and professional lives.

A strong work ethic has been part of my nature from my first job as a teenager scooping ice cream to my current position as executive vice president, chief marketing officer for Bank of the West, one of the largest banks in the United States.

When I decided to attend college at the University of Oregon, my father agreed on the condition that I pay the added cost of out-of-state tuition and that I graduate in four years. I was determined to attend school in Eugene, so I had to work several jobs while achieving my degree in telecommunications and film.

Throughout my career, I have always endeavored to learn from my colleagues and mentors. At my first job out of college, I started at the bottom, learned all that I could, and then rose through the ranks over a ten-year period. Today I am still in touch with many of the people I worked with there. In fact, a recommendation from my very first manager took me to my current position.

I think it is important to cultivate lasting relationships, because you never know when you may be able to help someone you have respected in the past.

To develop a network of professional contacts, it helps to have diverse experiences early in your career. I think it’s great to gain experience through a variety of jobs that interest you and work with different people in different environments to identify and be able to focus on what you are truly passionate about. During my career in marketing, I’ve worked as a senior executive at Coca-Cola, The Gap, Eddie Bauer, and Borders Group, Inc. prior to joining Bank of the West, I managed brand strategy for various divisions of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Radio Shack at Hamilton Partners as client services director. These experiences have shaped me and my career and I continuously draw on the friendships that I have developed along the way.