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A View From the Top: Advice From Women at the Peak of Their Careers

The corporate climb can be a daunting scramble for women. Despite a shift toward equity in the workplace, there are impediments abound. 

However, there are also plenty of tools out there — and great advice — that can help you scale the summit. Gleaned from dialogues with female business leaders during Forté conferences, here are a few pointers from those who’ve reached the top:

Know what makes you special

Gain deep content knowledge or a skill set that will make even senior-level people seek you out. When you show depth of knowledge and experience, you raise your value. 

Think of networking in a different way

Especially if you don’t enjoy “schmoozing,” don’t think about networking as what you need to do to get ahead, think about it as a way to be more effective in your job. Seek out people who can teach you and help you become more proficient. 

Be tech savvy

Regardless of your industry or role, everyone today must understand how technology creates value. If you’re still in school, take a couple technology courses so you can understand how it integrates with your chosen field.

Never stop learning

Build the habit of continuous learning. You can’t drive a business unless you are constantly learning and growing. There is so much change and you need to keep pace. 

Be open to the unexpected

As the saying goes, it’s about the journey, not the destination. There is no single path to leadership. 

You may not recognize a certain position or location change as an assist for the future, but if you look for the lesson in each experience, it will come back to you in meaningful ways.

Gain mentors and sponsors

Look for both male and female mentors and sponsors. Ultimately, you need to find a senior-level person who will advocate on your behalf, but remember the relationship is a two-way street. Think about what you can contribute to a potential mentor that makes you worth the investment.

Don’t wait to contribute

You have an opportunity at every stage of your career to make a contribution. Keep thinking about how you can add value and articulate it, even if you’re in a junior position.

Pam Bixby, Editorial Writer, Forté, [email protected]

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