I work at Pramerica Systems Ireland in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland, a technology and business services subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc., headquartered in Newark, NJ. There is a 3,000-mile-wide ocean and a five-hour time difference between me, and my peers and customers. This definitely makes it difficult to get people to know who I am and what I can do. But distance is a challenge that can be overcome by making the right investment in time and people, and by tuning in to the culture of the company.
I never underestimate the value of spending time on site with peers, clients, and prospective customers, so that we can get to know each other and to build trust—which is critical if you want to be known as someone who can be relied on to provide excellent partnership and deliver on promises. When I can’t have in-person meetings, I check-in with people in ways that do not intrude on their schedules—thank you notes, voice messages with relevant information, or requests to quickly touch base on current status.
Using video teleconferencing works really well for remote meetings. I want to always convey my authentic personality and be recognized as someone who adds value by solving problems, taking feedback, or creating options that help support the people I work with. In addition, I am a nonexecutive member of several boards and a member of the European CIO Research Board, which gives me the opportunity to network and share ideas with technology leaders across many Fortune 100 companies. I also belong to the CIO Executive Council, the Ireland/US Council and the American Chamber of Commerce. Through these organizations, I meet and share ideas and best practices with leaders of large companies in Ireland.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Being good at what we do is essential, but that alone does not guarantee that we will always be successful. I think success is based on being a constant student of the Three P’s: profession, people and politics. The softer skills are often what propel us into more senior leadership roles. The ability to collaborate and influence people is crucial to success.
It is not always easy to listen when you are busy coming up with the solution. So I work hard to really hear what people are telling me, and to ask questions that help them come up with solutions on their own. I have found that the most effective catalyst for success is to empower people and surround myself with a team of great leaders. I always strive to be consistent and fair, which helps me keep my team’s trust and respect.
Caroline’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
My advice is to work hard to build a strong network, demonstrate integrity in your dealings with others, be positive, and be flexible. Most of all, be true to yourself. There is only one “You,” so why not strive to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be?