From new industries being created to boards looking for different types of talent, to a focus on employee values and value, 2023 promises to open up a range of unforeseen career opportunities and decisions, especially for women. “I think today there are more ways to make a difference while making money than there ever have been before,” Natalie Jaresko, former finance minister of Ukraine said.
So, before you draft those New Year’s resolutions, you may want to step back and consider a different strategy based on the new economy we face today – in a good way.
Here are nine top pieces advice from some of the dozens of women leaders I’ve interviewed in 2022 on Electric Ladies Podcast and for my Forbes articles:
1. Develop goals that reflect today – both who you are and the marketplace: Before you quit your job or ask for that promotion or apply for a new role, develop your goals based on who you are today – and, just as importantly, where the opportunities are in today’s economy for someone with your unique skills and talents. It’s a new marketplace, with new industries, new types of roles, new demands and ways to be who you are in your career.
2. Seize the opportunities in the ESG-climate change economy: Companies have been innovating to reduce their carbon footprints for many years, but the constellation of new climate and infrastructure-related legislation passed this year accelerates that shift and paves the way for new industries and career paths. Kristina Wyatt – SVP and Deputy General Counsel of Persefoni, who formerly oversaw the Securities and Exchange (SEC) team that developed the forthcoming climate risk disclosure rules – said this ESG economic paradigm – environment, social and governance – is positioning women in particular for senior leadership. Wyatt said, “I think this is a huge opportunity because climate and ESG issues are moving in that direction (to the board, C-suite and investor levels) and the women, and particularly minority women, women of color who might be in these positions, they can ride that to the C-suite.” Many of these roles are in fashion too, where Kerry Bannigan is a leader.
3. Make sure you have the financial and business skills you need: Wyatt also emphasized being prepared for these higher level roles: “If you need to take courses, learn about how to read financial statements, get very familiar with your company’s financials, understand balance sheets, understand income statements, understand cash flow statements and how they work so that you can really speak the financial talk and understand how your sustainability issues integrate with your financial issues.” Lisa Brown, Ph.D., Regional Marketing Manager, South East Region, Volkswagen of America, and Julie Lenzer, Chief Innovation Officer now at Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, both went back to school for additional graduate degrees after ~25 years of experience, for example.
4. Work in different industries: Ford Chief Marketing Officer Suzy Deering said the perspective on the 21st century consumer from her experiences at Verizon and eBay helped her innovate at Ford at this unique moment in time, when technology takes a central role in transportation. One example is the extraordinary success of the new Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck, including that 76% of its buyers are new to Ford. This will also help you develop multiple skillsets and be adaptable, which Telva McGruder, Chief Diversity Officer of GM emphasized too.
5. Be open to new job opportunities in many forms, including lateral roles, at any age: This was a point emphasized by Lisa Brown, in particular and demonstrated by Speaker Pelosi as well.
6. Identify and leverage resources and assets: Think beyond the obvious to identify the hidden resources you can leverage – in relationships, talents, budget, leverage, etc.—to achieve the results and goals you seek. Get creative, which all these women demonstrate.
7. Stay curious: Many disagreements and conflicts stem from a misunderstanding, so, before you jump to a conclusion or assume what they meant, ask. Ask them to explain their reasoning further (“Can you expand on that to help me understand?”). Ask why they feel or think the way they say they do, with genuine curiosity and respect. Also stay curious in terms of learning new things every day, no matter how much you think you know, as Genevieve Cullen, President of the Electric Drive Transportation Assn. said.
8. Find a way to make a difference no matter what role you are in: Wherever you are in the organization today, there’s a way to make a difference, according to Trisa Thompson, former longtime Chief Sustainability Officer of Dell Technologies. She said, “You have a job, whatever it is, you could be in marketing, you could be a supply chain engineer. Where do you see low hanging fruit, whether it’s in your job description or not, that can make a difference in your company? And how do you go get that done?”
9. Embrace both tradition and progress: The late remarkable Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated so many of these career moves, most especially how she both respected protocol and knew when it was time to eschew it or change it. Upon her passing this year, the new King Charles III said of his mother in his first speech as king that, “In her life of service we saw that abiding love of tradition, together with that fearless embrace of progress, which make us great as Nations.” A most poignant example is that on 9-13-2001, after the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Queen had her Coldstream Guards play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in solidarity.
Your way will be uniquely yours, so find a way to be who you want to be at work and to make the difference you want to make. None of these women could have predicted their paths either. It might not look like what you expected.
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