I believe that the foundation of a fulfilling career is rooted in a commitment to learning, an appreciation for a diverse workforce, and actively engaging in mentoring. An individual should be encouraged to stretch his or her intellectual limits and broaden horizons by seeking out new business roles and challenges. My career within Northrop Grumman has included avariety of roles that enabled me to leave my comfort zone. The most difficult time came when Northrop Grumman acquired Litton Industries. I was asked to strategically lead a large part of the integration project and combine six former businesses into one new division. This challenged my ability to balance my commitment to the company with my compassion toward the workers whose lives would be affected by the reorganization. The process taught me the value of managerial support and the significance of a cohesive team. For a successful and fulfilling career, I offer the following thoughts/suggestions:
MIX IT UP, AND LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. The minute your job gets comfortable, find something to challenge yourself. Facilitate an open communication policy with your staff and create a forum where everyone can exchange ideas. Create a stimulating work environment. Take on small and large projects outside of the daily routine.
BE A FORMAL AND INFORMAL MENTOR. Mentoring should be a personal and professional commitment. Build relationships with colleagues of different backgounds and all levels. Positive and constructive feedback, extra support during challenging assignments, and shared knowledge and skills will help them excel. I continue to have both formal and informal mentors, and counsel several colleagues; in return, I learn from them.
FOSTER AN INCLUSIVE WORKING ENVIRONMENT. People should not feel judged because of what they look like or where they came from. A professional environment should be a place where people come to learn and give back to customers or a cause. It takes the sum of all workers to make a company prosper and for employees to achieve their individual goals.
YOU CAN LEARN A LOT ABOUT YOURSELF FROM OTHERS. I received this advice from my father, the greatest mentor I ever had. He taught me early on about diversity, and encouraged me to surround myself with people from other cultures and backgrounds who offer new insights and intellectual challenge.
I think women aspiring to the executive level should, above all, treat their careers as an education. My number one goal has always been to learn, not to attain a specific title. I know firsthand the importance of challenging myself and constantly increasing my knowledge base while staying true to my values and convictions. At the end of the day I must go home, look myself in the mirror, and be proud of the person I see.