One of the biggest career decisions I made was relocating to New York from Pittsburgh four years ago to enhance my career. It took a lot of thinking about whether this was the right move from both a professional and personal perspective. I decided to make an investment in myself, and it really paid off. I was given the opportunity to take on new, challenging roles, which provided me experiences and skills that I otherwise would not have. It allowed me to grow, both professionally and personally. I built new friendships and made connections that expanded my professional network. I’m very glad I didn’t let fear hold me back.
The move to my current role as vice president of investor relations was another challenging decision, but a great one. This position required the combination of a finance background (which I already had) and a focus on external communication, which was outside my current skill set—or so I thought. With the support of sponsors who understood my strengths, and by reflecting on past experiences, I realized I was up to the challenge. People who know me best would describe me as a social person and a good listener. At the time, I didn’t realize personal skills could translate into professional strengths. Also, early in my career, I had educated people across the organization about new and emerging topics, which naturally allowed me to build the skills I thought I was missing.
My key takeaway? Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You’ll find the ability is there—you just need to dig deep. In the end, you’ll come away with experiences and knowledge that allow you to excel your career.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
To succeed and stay competitive in any position or field, I believe you need to do to three things:
1. Know your audience. Throughout your career you’ll interact with a variety of stakeholders: Customers (both internal and external), employees, and the management team. Being a good listener is just as important as being a good communicator. Building a strong relationship with every group will allow you to be understanding of their needs and proactively respond to them.
2. Know your content. In a company, everything from the corporate strategy to the operations of each of the businesses is important to understand. In my current role as vice president of investor relations, it’s an ongoing learning experience. Do your research—be the person who can answer the questions.
3. Be resilient and open to change. I know it sounds cliché, but change is good. If you are being asked to add responsibilities to your role—as I was multiple times throughout my career—be confident, and draw on past experiences to embrace opportunity. Change will ultimately happen, and seeing the opportunity in the challenges and responsibilities that come with it is important. As you build your career, never accept “can’t” as an answer—especially from yourself.