Education: BS, magna cum laude, Morris Brown College, Atlanta; MBA, University of Southern California

First Job: Dispatcher at Dog & Suds in Chicago (hot dogs and root beer)

What I'm Reading: The Power of Impossible Thinking, by Jerry Wind, Robert E. Gunther, Colin Crook and Yoram Wind.

My Philosophy: Know why you are where you are. When there’s an opportunity, you’ll know which ones to raise your hand for because you know why you came. If you are getting what you came for, it doesn’t matter what’s happening around you because you are getting what you need. It helps you to know how long to stay. It helps you know why you should tough it out. And it helps you to know when to move on to other opportunities.

Interests: Gourmet cooking, collecting cookbooks and traveling.

Favorite Charities: Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Sharon Hall 

Managing Director, Spencer Stuart Atlanta; worldwide board of directors; co-founder and member of the Diversity Practice global practice specialty

award winner

There are three critical pieces of advice I would offer women who desire to be future corporate leaders:

First, run yourown race. Do not compete with others or you will be consistently let down. People who are competitive and want to get ahead sometimes compare themselves to others, and there is no advantage in this. You must compete against yourself and determine your own professional time line.

Second, know what you want from the job and/or career change and why. Things you might want include stability, compensation, functional experience or life balance. For instance, if you need certain functional experience to round out your resume, do not focus on getting a title or being brought in at a certain level when you are changing jobs. Instead, focus on whether or not the company can give you the functional experience you need. You must be clear about what you are looking for because you cannot always have stability, compensation, functional experience and life balance in one package. If you know what you want and why you want it, it helps you to make the best career choices.

Third, get familiar with your own risk profile. What risks are you willing to take for your current job or career change? Will you relocate? If so, where to and when will you move? Will you take a cut in pay? Under what circumstances? Are you willing to switch industries? If so, to which ones?

Each piece of advice that I offer to women has one common thread … each is all centered on you: Run your own race, know what youwant from the job, and know yourrisk profile. One of the most important things we can do is to study our own priorities, our own capabilities and our own desires. As we study the market, the marketplace, the company and the people who will interview us, we should also study ourselves. This is the key to success for women who desire to be corporate leaders.