Understanding when and how to make the leap to a new role is not easy. Past successes might not help you, and may keep you in your comfort zone or may make you fear failure.
I transitioned from finance leader for our largest segment to president of the HVAC and Transport Latin America business. My career planning pointed me to this role, and I knew that taking this risk was a necessary step in reaching my ultimate career goals. I approached the role with an understanding of how it would challenge me and where my strengths would align with the needs of the role. I did not jump blindly; I acted in ways that minimized the risk of the move. First, I had discussions with my manager and mentor about what my contingency plan might be if the role turned out to not be the right fit. I also asked these trusted colleagues for feedback, so that I could make changes early if necessary.
In this new role, I have developed stronger strategic decision making skills. I now understand how the choices we make impact complex markets and environments, and how to drive change across those environments. As a leader, I have been successful setting the tone at the top to shape culture and communicating clearly to engage both the internal organization and external stakeholders.
I have been pleasantly surprised that the more I learn, the more positively I impact the organization. I have always been professionally curious, and after 15 years with Ingersoll Rand, I have witnessed the power of combining institutional history and knowledge with new skills. This understanding helps as I coach teammates through development opportunities—I always consider where their expertise will have the most impact.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
It takes an external focus—a view of customers, competitors, and markets, as well as the ability to recognize and address shifts in the external environment. You must capitalize on your strengths and hire people who excel in other key areas. Be clear about your core values and stay true to them.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My husband, Gary, has been a mentor and sponsor for my success. He is both a great cheerleader and an honest critic. It is hard to find people who will give you the tough feedback that drives success. He has also made space for my career in our family life, often taking on more than his fair share and allowing me to have a manageable balance between career and family.
On Facing Challenges
Leading cross-functional teams is the hardest challenge I have faced in my career. What drives an engineer is different from what drives a salesperson. I dedicate my time to listening and seeking to understand the key drivers for each function. I tailor my management and communication style to address these differences, which has also helped me lead teams with diverse backgrounds.
Maria’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Understand your strengths and passions, and be able to articulate the value you provide to both internal and external stakeholders.