Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” For over 20 years, I’ve held a variety of positions in sales and marketing in the consumer packaged goods industry. With the help of many wonderful mentors, I’ve learned valuable lessons. The following are a few I often share.
Choose a Company you Admire I am proud to be part of a company that manufacturers high quality products while maintaining its unwavering commitment to sustainability. With brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Suave, and Dove, at Unilever we are collaborating with suppliers and retail partners to meet our shared business objectives while simultaneously addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges of our day. Throughout your life, you will invest your time and talents in your career; make that investment in a company with a mission you admire.
Decide how to Make a Difference In 2008, Healthy Lifestyle Choices (HLC) asked me to join their board. It was an opportunity to make a difference. HLC is a nonprofit organization that empowers children with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices. Advising HLC on its strategy is a tremendous privilege, and also an honor to make a meaningful difference in the lives of over 200,000 children in 44 states who receive HLC programming. Both planned and unexpected opportunities come along; make purposeful decisions about how you will make a difference. Sit at the Table Despite being key contributors, emerging women leaders sit frequently in the outer circle of meeting room chairs instead of directly at the meeting table.
Sit at the table. And prepare your eligibility to sit at the table to which you aspire. Build your knowledge. Take on assignments that round out your skill sets. The more experiences you have, the more effective you will be as an executive.
Currently women represent only 15 percent of Fortune 500 company board seats. Studies show that companies with diverse boards perform better financially. Private and public companies need diverse leaders capable of serving on their corporate boards. Perhaps that will be the table at which you aspire to sit. It is for me. Over the last several years, I have been preparing myself for board eligibility through coursework, networking, mentoring, nonprofit board experience and more. Which seat at which table will you choose? Pave your own path and enjoy the journey.