Executive Vice President, State Street Corporation
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
I believe my greatest strength is my ability to understand and leverage team dynamics. Everything I do in the business arena requires collaboration and an ability to achieve together. Understanding what motivates the team and explaining each person’s contribution to the success of the whole is a critical factor in my success.
Michelle Obama inspires me. She is an African-American woman who came from a relatively humble background and used education and hard work to advance. In addition to this, she seems to understand how to balance family values and needs against external demands. I continuously strive to create a good balance between my family’s needs and the demands of my career.
HOW I MOTIVATE OTHERS
I strongly believe that being able to motivate others depends on building good relationships, so I invest a significant amount of time in relationship building. Whether we are trying to motivate others at work or in our personal lives, building strong relationships helps us find common ground that can be used to achieve results.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
The greatest issue facing the African-American community is the lack of strong families. Though I acknowledge that there are many strong African-American families, it seems that there are still too many families struggling with single parenting and a lack of adequate financial resources. These issues seem to be the root cause of many of the overarching negative issues that are linked to this community.
I am an executive sponsor of the Black Professional Group at State Street. One area of focus for this employee network is the development and advancement of African-American professionals in our company. I also mentor many young African-American adults who reach out to me for guidance.
The most important lesson I have learned in my career is to work hard and be patient. I am a strong believer that even though African Americans might face many barriers as they try to advance their careers, their first focus should be excelling in their performance. The reason I point to this area is that high performance gives you the right to have the conversation about advancement. Gaps in performance can create a distraction from the real conversation and cause delays. That’s why my goal has always been to keep my performance at a level that gives me opportunities to discuss advancement with confidence.
I maintain a healthy balance because I have a very strong family unit. My husband and children constantly remind me that there is more to life than work. This causes me to carefully weigh how I spend my time in order to satisfy my work requirements, as well as those of my family.
I have learned that I am a lot tougher than I ever thought possible. I have been in the workforce for more than 30 years and I have experienced both good and bad situations. As I look back, I am a little surprised that I was able to take an unemotional look at bad situations and create sensible solutions to them. I have learned that even if the facts indicated that a situation was wrong or unfair to me, the sooner I put aside the emotion and use the facts to resolve the issue, the more successful I became. This is a maturity that one grows into—it does not happen quickly.
There are a few factors that I believe influenced my advancement. When I first joined the workforce, I was determined to take every opportunity to learn something new. I stepped up and offered to lead projects and tried not to be fearful or apprehensive about getting involved in areas that were new to me. Secondly, early in my career, I investigated various aspects of business before choosing a particular area I wanted to focus on and become expert in.