Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we asked 13 of our most powerful female leaders to share their advice about how to advance your career, how to lead with authenticity, and how we can all find a #BalanceforBetter.
Q: Think back to the early days of your career – what advice would you give your younger self?
Mariane Hotta | EVP, Finance & Accounting | RV Brazil
“Believe in yourself, work hard and use setbacks as an opportunity to grow. Be comfortable with your own style and have in mind that diversity is a proven lever for high-performing teams.”
Maghan Cook | VP, Corporate Communications
“Know your weaknesses, but OWN your strengths. Know what you do best and bring that into your work, your teams and your life every day. I’d also tell my younger self to buy stock in Apple.”
Q: Career trajectory rarely unfolds in a straight line (sorry, analysts). What’s your advice for someone who wants to make a seismic career shift?
Christina Wells | VP, Cards
“Speak up! Too often we, especially women, wait for permission. Develop a perspective on where you want to go, have patience in honing the skills to get you there, and then be courageous in your self-advocacy.”
Sarah Soule | President
“Two things: 1) Be kick-a$$ at your current role and always look for ways to add more value. 2) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable now. That means taking some risk – seek out roles / projects you may not think you’re 100% ready for or that make you nervous.”
Beth Jackson | Director, Manager Development
“Work hard on the fundamentals of your job. And ASK for the next level of work. What does it look like? What will it take to get there? Who can help facilitate that move with you?”
Q: What does it really mean to be an “authentic” leader?
Catie Kelly | VP | RV UK
“Lead with your heart not just your head. Bring your whole self to work every day, show up for people and don’t be afraid to get things wrong. For me, it’s about mastering the “AND”. Being direct AND kind. Holding people accountable AND being empathetic. Being competitive AND supportive.”
Gisselle Molinary-Rivera | Program Manager
“Don’t be a manager, be a mentor. Building strong relationships is very important in order to have a successful team.”
Carmen Leyton | EVP
“Bring your whole self to work — both women and men are both much more than employees, we are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, wives, husbands. If you are not able to lead as your full self, your team will not be comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.”
Q: It’s tough to draw a clear line between work responsibilities and personal responsibilities – what’s your life-hack for finding (and maintaining) a healthy balance?
Khalan Boyer | Director, Nonprofits
“Balance might look different in the different seasons of your life. The key for me is figuring out how to do all that I want to do without depleting myself. That requires me to learn how to ask for support if I have too much on my plate and finding creative ways to get the job done. I’ve learned that it’s progress, not perfection, that really counts.”
Courtney Jeffus | President, Cards
“Focus on the things that have to get done now versus the things that can wait. This allows me to put my attention where it’s needed, whether that be with my family, at work, or elsewhere. Balance doesn’t mean that every day is balanced. It means that over the course of time you are able to spend time where you need to and where you are needed.”
April Gibson-Fulton | Director, Engineering
“I feel like there are not enough hours in a day. However, my secret weapon is the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. It helps me categorize things that are important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent.”
Q: Speaking of balancing big responsibilities – what advice would you share with working moms?
Laine Plummer | VP, Content
“You can’t measure work life balance on a day-to-day basis. You’ll always lose. Instead, measure it monthly. Do your best to fully unplug on nights (if you can) and weekends. Prioritize vacations. Make the time with your kids more meaningful. There are more memories to make in a month than in a day.”
Shannon McFayden | Leadership Advisor
“Guilt seems to be our “default setting” as women – when we are working, we feel guilty about not taking care of our families and communities and when we are with our families, we feel guilty for not working. My antidote for guilt is presence. When I am working, I aim to be fully present and engaged, and when I am with my family or working in my community, I aim to be fully present and engaged. I don’t like the word “balance”, which implies 50/50 (it never is — on any given day or hour it is 90/10 or 10/90 so how do I show up and be present in that moment?) “Balance” also sounds precarious, and every piece of our full lives is too important to approach it with the fear of dropping something — instead, I choose to think about it as alignment: are my actions aligned with my values? Is my behavior aligned with my beliefs? Is my presence aligned with having the most positive impact I can in that moment? That’s how I overcome my guilt.”