My mother, who was the greatest woman I have ever known, taught me that “all work is profitable if done well.” That is a work philosophy that has guided me during my career. During college, I worked as a custodian at a chemical plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana. I learned a great deal about myself and others while cleaning the men’s restroom at a plant in the Deep South in the ’80s. Not all of it was pleasant. Still, following my mother’s advice, I took pride in my work as a custodian. Notwithstanding the fact that I had what some may have considered the lowest job at the plant, I arrived eager to work and with a great attitude. I was asked to return by the plant’s management. Having my services requested, even if it was simply to clean offices, was a point of pride for me. It meant that I had done a good job.
Although my position and title have changed, my work ethic and approach to client service remain the same. My goal is to provide the type of service that my clients specifically ask for me by name. We all have unique God-given talents. Early in my career I realized that I am obliged to take the abilities and opportunities with which I have been blessed and put them to use. I could not excuse a lack of effort because the world was hard or because people did not treat me well. Instead, I had to redouble my efforts.
Though I have worked hard, I am not an island. Numerous people have given of themselves, their time, and their talents in order to help me achieve some of my goals. My mother was a great source of inspiration and tireless encouragement for me, and my husband and four children have supported me every step of the way. Norton Rose Fulbright has also created a work environment that has allowed me to succeed.
Respecting all work, whether I am doing it or others are, makes me a better lawyer and a better leader. It allows me to relate to everyone with whom I interact with, whether it is one of my law partners or one of the firm’s hard-working support staff. More than that, it allows me to see the dignity and value of everyone in my organization, clients, witnesses, and juries. I hope they can see the same in me.
How has education affected your career?
My law degree has given me the opportunity to manage our clients’ most important resource: their employees.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
Perseverance and humility are critical to success. The ability to receive support when you are deflated by disappointments and the ability to accept constructive criticism with a good attitude enables one to succeed. I stay competitive in my field by listening to our clients and responding to their needs.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Define success for yourself. All too often, we are motivated to achieve goals and positions because we think it is the right thing to do. The top position in a company may be ideal for some, but a different role may work best for others. It is important to identify and prioritize what is most important, and then work towards those goals.