“To borrow from poet John Donne, no woman is an island,” says Virginie Aubert, Vice President of Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Canada. “Growth is built on the lessons we learn and the people we meet along the way, and being open to both can form the basis of an extremely satisfying career.”
We couldn’t agree more. So, to get the best advice, we talked to some highly accomplished women – namely, three winners of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Award. Mercedes-Benz sponsors this award category at the annual Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards, which are organized by Women’s Executive Network (WXN), as part of the luxury automotive manufacturer’s She’s Mercedes platform, which aims to celebrate, connect and inspire successful women.
Read on for brilliant insights on navigating success from those in the know.
1. REMEMBER: YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH.
Ravy Por admits that it took her years to understand the power of a network. “The daughter of farmers, I come from a Cambodian-genocide refugee family with a humble background,” says Por, executive director of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies at KPMG and founder of Héros de chez nous, a digital-literacy nonprofit. “I had no professional contacts in my field. [But] in about 10 years, I’ve been to hundreds of events and met lots of people.” Cultivating her network has opened doors to opportunities, committees and even friendships.
2. DRAW INSPIRATION FROM UNCONVENTIONAL PLACES.
“I like to listen to podcasts about marketing and entrepreneurship because many strategies for success in these fields are translatable to science and research, but most scientists don’t think this way,” says Meghan Azad, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba. Understanding different spheres of knowledge is a career theme for her: Because she was trained in both basic science (genetics and biochemistry) and clinical research (pediatrics and epidemiology), she can act as a “translator” for colleagues.
3. WHEN TRYING TO LAND A PROMOTION, COME PREPARED.
Instead of surprising your manager with “The Talk”, try to have a meeting of the minds, advises Nazia Shahrin, senior director of regulatory strategy and delivery at RBC and lecturer in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Be ready to point to specifics to show how you go above and beyond. “Your plan of action needs to consist of more than a single conversation with your manager,” says Shahrin. “It needs to be the culmination of a series of steps that have served to make your manager cognizant of your great outcomes and regularly remind them of how you are consistently exceeding your mandate.”
4. AIM FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.
“Fall hard and get up fast,” says Por. “In the beginning, I made mistakes and acknowledged the fact that I didn’t know everything. It was humbling and an important lesson that allowed me to learn my strengths and weaknesses.”
5. FOCUS ON YOUR “CAREER CURRENCY” AND PERSONAL GROWTH.
The former includes your accomplishments, contacts and professional reputation; the latter is the ongoing process of self-development to reach your full potential, explains Shahrin. “Together, these two create the balance and synergy between who you are inside and how people perceive you in your network.”
About She’s Mercedes
She’s Mercedes (#ShesMercedesCA) is a platform developed by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate and connect successful women, empowering them to be their best by inspiring power, confidence, and innovation. As part of its commitment to supporting women’s professional and personal advancement, Mercedes-Benz partners with Women’s Executive Network (WXN) to recognize Canada’s next generation of female leaders with the annual Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Awards.
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