I don’t think you can ever definitively know when or how to make a leap to a new role or a new workplace. There’s never a perfect answer. Opportunities come, and you have to embrace them.
My career at Newell Rubbermaid has quickly progressed, with three different roles in four years. I view my career path as I view my life—as an adventure. That’s the spirit in which I have lived and worked since early in my career.
My husband and I made the decision to walk away from successful careers in New York when we realized we were too young to miss out on the world. We bought one-way tickets to Nepal. We had the courage and fortitude to trust we’d land on our feet when we got back, and we did. Courage is everything to me. It explains the fearlessness I employ at home and at work.
I moved into a new role at Newell Rubbermaid when the business was hitting a challenging time. I was taking on new responsibilities, while simultaneously leading a team through a significant business turnaround. Why leap into a new role during a troubling time? Because it was an opportunity to learn and grow. It was a time to really dig deep and understand the key drivers of the business, build the confidence of the people on my team, and rely on them to deliver results.
I also learned to share my values with my team. Values are such drivers of behavior. The more open you can be as a leader about what matters to you, the more your people will understand and respond. That’s the key to building the performance culture that defines Newell Rubbermaid.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
An eclectic group of mentors have, in their own unique ways, inspired me personally and professionally. One boss told me my job description was not a piece of paper, and that it was up to me to make things happen. I learned that your job changes every day; you have to figure out how to get it done in an authentic way with people who you trust. Another person who inspired me was Dave, a family friend, who became my hero on a trip to Cambodia. In his late 60s, getting around with a walking stick, Dave was told by a local that climbing the majestic Angkor Wat would be too difficult. But on his hands and knees, with rocks crumbling around him, he made it to the top. He had a profound impact on my life, because he showed me how much I value fearlessness.
Laurel’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Embrace business challenges, and never run away from a tough conversation. Seek out the support of advocates who will instill confidence in you and help you realize that you have the ability to make the right decisions.