When do I make the next career move? For me the answer is simple: “When I no longer can make a difference where I am.” With each career move, the new environment has created opportunities to learn and sharpen my capabilities.
I began at AlliedSignal (now Honeywell), where CEO Larry Bossidy was transforming a commodity company into a Wall Street winner—in part through acquisitions and in part by inspiring employees through Total Quality Leadership and Six Sigma training. This experience shifted our thinking—from seeing the company as “them” to seeing it as “us,” and from thinking of responsibilities as coming from outside to thinking of them as internal and personal.
Next, I moved to Invensys Controls, where I was asked to lead communications. I welcomed working for a manager who gave free reign to do what needed to be done.
My most recent move was to DSM Dyneema, which offered new opportunities to make a difference and to work again, as I had at AlliedSignal/Honeywell, with a remarkable high-strength polyethylene material that, when made into armor, saves the lives of police officers and soldiers, and prevents injuries in industry and sporting activities.
With each move, I have learned major lessons: The power of branding; how to listen; and how to create win-win outcomes for company and customer. I was surprised to discover I bring insights, judgment, and experience that others value. I have learned that I have an ability to mold and advise leaders—helping them become the leaders they are meant to be, and guiding the business to perform at its best. I believe this is my unique quality, and that it is enabled by the skills I’ve learned and the ability to bring female insight and energy into engineering, manufacturing, and technical organizations.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Seeing, hearing and understanding the direct customer, as well as the end users—in our case officers in military service and law enforcement—is a crucial key to success.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Retired CEO Larry Bossidy moved AlliedSignal [later Honeywell] to become a peak performer, in part through Total Quality Leadership (TQL) followed by Six Sigma. He challenged each of us to know, be responsible for, and act on our individual priorities, as well as the priorities of our businesses, regardless of title or position.
On Facing Challenges
My biggest challenge has been taking the initiative to make a stand and speak out for what’s right for the business.
Sophie’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Discover your passion, and do what you love.