Looking for Leadership Advice?
Here’s Perspective from C-Suite Leaders.
Missed us on International Women’s Day? Watch Perspectives from the C-Suite: Women’s Leadership Panel
In partnership with MassMutual, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts facilitated a panel discussion as part of the Women’s Leadership Series on International Women’s Day 2021. These leaders with vast experience in corporate industries and higher education shared their expert knowledge on how to lead with strength, resilience, and perseverance. If you missed it, click here to watch Perspectives from the C-Suite: Women’s Leadership Panel.
Due to great participation from the audience, we couldn’t get to all the questions we had for our featured leaders. They kindly offered to share some insight on the questions we missed!
For young girls and women who want to reach these types of leadership positions, what are 3 things they can do right now to get started?
- Work on determining what you are passionate about, and what you enjoy the most about the work you are doing.
- Set up meetings with individuals in the roles that you aspire to and ask them about their experiences, learn from the opportunities and challenges that they experienced in their own advancement to those roles.
- Never stop asking questions or learning in your current role/work.
- The first thing you want to do is SPEAK UP! Next time you have an opportunity to be at any informal gathering, take the lead on something, whether it is organizing a special family activity, a gathering of friends, or a committee in your local community. Remember that leadership does not start with a title, it starts with work.
- Second, find out who you are: what is your style? What are your interests and passions? Take the initiative to understand where you best shine and take a leadership assessment (Strengthfinder 2.0 is a helpful resource).
- Finally, think back to those times when you succeeded and channel that energy, believe in yourself, you can be successful many more times.
- Good education of building block courses and experiences. Check out various jobs, internships, clubs, and career center databases (at school in your library or in a public industry trade group or professional group – you don’t even have to be a member to read many of these and learn how to get a job in that industry or profession), to get leadership experiences, start creating a network, and gain an awareness of opportunities as well as how to get into where you want to go
- Learn about various jobs, companies, and even other cultures as a way to figure out what you like and how to interact with people in those places that you want to be – and ask how they got there. Notice trends in what you hear across many people, and remember that things will change – and how will you be part of the change, prepare yourself along the way to use the change as an opportunity to land where you want
- Lead a project or program at your office, in a club, in a not-for-profit group, or for your town – and learn what worked well and how you achieved success. Then try again in an area where you can help and learn.
Looking back and reflecting on all that you have learned throughout your career journey, what is something you would tell your younger self to be aware of or to keep in mind?
When I was younger (in high school and college), I consistently received the message that I “was not like the other” Latinx students, and that “I would succeed” as a result. While I internalized these negative messages about my community throughout K-12 and half of my college experience, it wasn’t until I began to learn more about my Puerto Rican roots and cultural and political history, while also learning to play the music of my community during my undergraduate college years, that I began the “undoing” of these messages. So, if I could go back, I would tell myself earlier on, “Don’t believe them. Believe in the gifts and strengths of your family, of your culture, background, and upbringing. Understand and appreciate the sacrifices that your parents have made for you to be here.”
Aim for excellence – and enjoy it along the way. Sometimes I was too hard on myself, demanding more of myself instead of enjoying it as thoroughly as I could have. It is a journey – for everyone.
When you have a lot of requests to provide mentorship, how do you manage your time to have the most impact?
I prefer to define the commitment (time, purpose, frequency) and ensure it is working for both of us before it goes more than 2 months. Then, even if it was working well, pause and refresh.
What is something you wish someone (and/or your mentor) had told you during your career journey?
You have to advocate for yourself and develop a network that advocates for you in addition to merit. Make your accomplishments, experiences, and planned next steps known inside your current organization as well as outside.