Agility: They Key to Building a Successful Career


FountainBlue’s March 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Agility: The Key to Building a Successful Career, and featured:
Facilitator Melissa McDonell, McDonell Web
Panelist Caroline Cornely, Senior Finance Manager, Cisco
Panelist Nancy Cryer, Program Manager, Global Talent Management Group, Hitachi Data Systems
Panelist Phyllis Stewart Pires. Director Community Experience and Learning and Talent Management lead, SAP Labs North America
Panelist Shirley Welsh, Senior Director, Market Development, qPCR Platform, Life Technologies

Please join us in thanking our hosts at Life Technologies for their support of this program and the series. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our dynamic panel represented women who went from one role to another, one company to another, one industry to another, sometimes planned, sometimes not, always learning and benefiting from each experience. Our panelists were very attuned with who they are, what they are passionate about, what makes them motivated, and how they are contributing and take care to nurture their brand and their communication to proactively project an image they would be proud of, one they are consciously grooming as they evolve their career. And they are humble, grounded and generous, and well positioned for their next career opportunity, should it come their way.
These are women who see opportunities in every challenge, learnings in every task, and constantly push the edge on what’s done and how it’s done, to better serve customers internally within a company, and external customers they serve. They did not start off in the middle or the top of the corporate ladder. They earned their stripes and built their brand so that they could climb that ladder. Central to this position is the alignment between what they do and who they are.
Below is advice from our panelists on how to proactively manage your career with grace and agility.
• Know yourself, both who you are and what makes you tick, how you respond to change and ambiguity (it’s not for everyone, but everyone has to manage it to some extent) and proactively plan an alignment between where you are now and where you want to be, weaving in a great supportive network, mentorships and connections and educational opportunities.
• Proactively plan for your next career move; don’t wait until you run-out-of-track to do so. And when you do, be prepared to feel uncomfortable as you merge from one company, role or industry into another, but have faith and draw upon your toolkit, your knowledge, expertise, perspective and core value, to deliver in the end. With that said, be prepared to say ‘woops, this isn’t for me’ and decide what’s a good walking point if the career choice you made didn’t quite turn out the way you were expecting. To minimize the likelihood of this happening, create boundaries for what you must-have, guidelines where you can evaluate each new opportunity, and keep learning about yourself and what you want to do and what you have to offer with every job opportunity.
• Whether you plan a career move or it is planned for you, be courageous and confident and help yourself remain positive and confident especially during transitions. A supportive network is fundamental to doing this well, and building this network when you’re NOT looking will help you manage the searches better.
• Regardless of where you find yourself in a company, focus on the value you bring to the customer and how you can communicate it to others in your company to build alignment, consensus, momentum and results.
• If you would like to proactively manage a transition, consider identifying adjacencies to your role/company/industry, which would best leverage your current tool-kit and connections.
• Employees of today and tomorrow will have to become more and more agile, more flexible with the changing global markets, rapidly evolving needs, and highly demanding clients. Those that chose breadth of experience will be best positioned for rising the corporate ladder.
• Proactively build a network of trusted advisers and solicit feedback. Then listen to it and respond it, especially if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Leverage the latest social media tools and techniques to do so.
• Choose a company, team, industry which best fits your personal preferences and style and direction.
• Be willing to speak up and ask for a change, be transparent about why, and engage with trusted others who can help you get there. As you speak, be tough enough to withstand the inevitable comments of those who call successful women dragon ladies or worse. Take the heart of the message without the judgment and put-down emotions inherent in the message and grow and learn from it. And arm yourself with communication tools and information so that you can proactively manage how you come across, and get better respect from those around you.

Stimulating Conversation, Building Community, Nurturing Innovation
At FountainBlue, we stimulate collaborative innovation one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time. We hope that our notes from our monthly events stimulate conversation on a topic of common interest, build a community of connected stakeholders, and in general, advance entrepreneurial business opportunities in this area. Please feel free to converse with fellow attendees regarding the conversations started at these events, and forwarded to interested others, with proper credit to FountainBlue and our speakers and sponsors as our notes are copyrighted by FountainBlue for 2006-2011. We welcome your continued participation and input and hope to see you at an event soon.


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