Career Advice From 5 Successful Female Leaders

L to R:  Stacey Rosati, Toni Johnson, Rebecca Forsbrey, Julie Belton, Stephanie Lubrano, Alexandra Brunetti

I haven’t really talked about where I work, but I will today. I work at EMC, the global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver information technology as a service (ITaaS). That sounds like a mouthful, but if you know anything about enterprise storage, cloud, virtualization or big data, then you definitely know EMC. It’s a $23B dollar company with a global customer reach.

EMC is committed to diversity and inclusion, and employees around the world have established resource groups focused on the various constituents within the Company. One of those is the Women’s Leadership Forum – NY/NJ, which I helped establish in 2007 and am now co-president of. On Wednesday night we hosted an event comprised of an interactive panel of senior women who answered questions around career navigation, network building, and leadership.   The panel consisted of 5 successful female leaders who had skillfully navigated their careers through the complex environment of a fortune 500 company – think 60,000 people across the EMC Federation. Panelists included: Stacey Rosati, Senior Director of Professional Services for the East Region, USA, Stephanie Lubrano, Senior Director, Global Accounts- Financials, Rebecca Forsbrey, Global Systems Engineer supporting EMC’s most strategic, global customers, Toni Johnson, Global Account Manager for ADP, one of EMC’s largest accounts and me, Human Resource Director for Global Professional Services. (I was humbled and honored when my fellow board members asked me to be a panelist.) And the panel was moderated by board member Julie Belton, Business Operations Manager.

 

L to R:  Stacey Rosati, Toni Johnson, Rebecca Forsbrey, Julie Belton, Stephanie Lubrano, Alexandra Brunetti

L to R: Stacey Rosati, Toni Johnson, Rebecca Forsbrey, Julie Belton, Stephanie Lubrano, Alexandra Brunetti

 

Anyway, I’m not going to give a play-by-play of the discussion, but there was so much valuable advice that was shared that I would be remiss if I didn’t pass it further. So here are the key insights from this event:

  • When women are considering a new role, we tend to want to check off every qualification before we feel we are capable of doing the job. STOP! If can fulfill 50% of the must haves on that list, apply for the role. It’s not about being able to fully perform the role day 1 but the growth experience.
  • Tied to that, get out of your comfort zone. If you feel completely comfortable about the new role you are about to take on, it’s probably not challenging enough for you.
  • Take risks. That risky move you are afraid to take could open an entirely new world of possibilities you wouldn’t have considered.
  • It’s ok to fail, we all fall sometimes. Use those stumbles as the learning moments that make you better.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and laugh a little.
  • Don’t comprise yourself for your “dream career”. If you need to change the essence of who you are to become the person you think you should be, then its not the right job for you.
  • As you move up the “corporate ladder”, make sure you reach down and bring other women with you. As Madeleine Albright once said at a keynote she gave at the Simmons Leadership Conference, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women.”
  • Embrace the differences we as females have that set up apart. Our empathy is our most powerful leadership trait and (sorry men) makes us much better leaders.
  • Dress for the job that you want, not the one you have.
  • When networking, don’t just think about what your network can do for you. It’s also about what can you do for them and what can they do for others around you.
  • You can progress in your career all on your own but it is a lot less difficult if you have sponsors or advocates who look out for you and champion for you.

Wow – that’s a lot of powerful advice! Even if you only apply one or two of these, you will be well on your way to attaining your career ambitions.

Which one of these resonates with you?

5 Tips for Transitioning into a New Career

Recently I met with a young female professional who was seeking career advice. She is a few years out of college and working for a great company in an industry that really excites her. Her #1 goal was to work for this particular company, so she took any job they would offer, which in her case was an entry level role doing the type of work she has no interest in. She wanted to know how she could make the jump from a role in a less than desired career path to a role that aligns closer to where she sees herself.

Before I share the advice I gave her, I want to say a couple of things about her situation. She did the smart thing by targeting a good company vs. looking for any job in her desired career. This young woman did her research and she knew that this would be a good cultural fit. Her values align with that of the organization and she is passionate about what the company does. Ultimately those things will keep her focused and motivated as she navigates internally to pursue her passion.

Leap into a new Career

Now, let me share the advice I offered:

  1. Demonstrate your commitment to your current role. While your end goal may be a career change, you don’t want to demonstrate a lack of interest. You will turn your manager and others off if you go to work with the sole purpose of searching for a new job.
  2. Make sure you WOW! them in your current job.  This is the job that will lay the groundwork for your personal brand at this company, so hit it out of the park. And in the process, you may WOW! your future boss.
  3. Build your network. Start networking and making contacts in the area you want to move into. Develop and cultivate those relationships over time and start learning more about your desired career.
  4. Get yourself noticed. The best way to do this is by raising your hand and taking on additional projects, especially in your desired career. What better way to demonstrate both your interest and capabilities!
  5. Dress for the job you want. Sometimes young professional don’t know how to dress in the corporate world, which is why I started this blog! You want to demonstrate you are the total package. Not only do you have the skills and ambition but you can also dress the part.  Not sure how to dress, follow my blog and take cues from those that already have your desired role.

What other advice would you have given her?