Fresh from college, I started as a junior engineer at Atlantic City Electric Company, a 100-year-old utility in a highly regulated industry. Little did I know then, that this was the quiet before the storm—utility deregulation, industry restructuring, and a series of mergers and acquisitions were all just over the horizon for me, my company, and the industry at large.
Reflecting back, I was fortunate to be in the midst of these changes and to be able to take advantage of the underlying opportunities they offered. I believe three key factors—along with a bit of luck—helped me meet these challenges and achieve a personally fulfilling career:
- Individual beliefs and values
- Good networks and mentors
- Willingness to embrace risks and challenges
INDIVIDUAL BELIEFS AND VALUES. Being grounded in your values and beliefs is a source of strength and personal definition. Early on, my parents taught me to be focused and committed to what I do (always give it 100% and more!). After all, success starts with your own self-assessment, self-satisfaction, and sense of achievement. I have always been fully committed to doing my best at the job at hand. If you enjoy what you do and you believe it is worthwhile, the commitment and dedication to the task become almost second nature.
ESTABLISH NETWORKS AND WELCOME MENTORS. Build a network early on, and continue to grow and nurture these personal relationships. These contacts areinvaluable. Carefully listen to and observe people in your company to learn from their successes and failures. Also, be sure to include leaders with great attitudes in your network. Seek their advice, work hard to win their confidence, and encourage them to take risks on you such as giving you a shot at a challenging new role. This is how Imade my first step into management!
EMBRACE RISKS AND CHALLENGES. You make no progress if you are afraid to take risks. Embrace change constantly look for ways to improve while ignoring temporary hurdles and setbacks. Stay focused. Take charge: do not be bashful or afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are another source of learning! Look at the positive side and try to move on—look back to learn from your mistakes, but not to regret any decisions. After all, every step is part of the journey.