Q - How long have you been in the industry, and what is your current job title ?
I was in the management information consulting business for 36 years and I’ve been the CEO of The Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders for 10 years now. I was the first women hired by Arthur Andersen & Co. and I was the first women partner at Andersen Consulting (now known as Accenture). I’ve also authored two books: Become the CEO of You, Inc. and Women Count.
Q - Did you have a mentor and, if so, who ?
Mentors are absolutely essential. Over the years, I’ve had many. To become the CEO of You, Inc., you need to have a team – or a board of directors – to support you. This team should include mentors, sponsors, coaches, functional specialists, human resources personnel, etc. These are people who will: open doors for you; provide guidance; push you to step out of your comfort zone; listen when you need advice and counsel, etc. They’re absolutely necessary in order to achieve your aspirations and to be all you can be. Without them, you won’t get there.
Q - Are you by nature a pessimist or an optimist ?
I’m generally an optimist, someone who sees the glass half full rather than half empty. However, I once received a review, letting me know I was too negative. The feedback was important. It’s great to have a point of view, but once there’s a point of view that’s different than yours, you can't second guess it. I was seen as being too negative and I needed to change that!
Q - Which business leader do you most admire and why ?
There are many great business leaders, but when I’m asked this question, I think of two women: Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Earhart. I admire them because I see myself in both of them. Susan B. Anthony because she saw the importance in gaining equality for women. Amelia Earhart (an advisor at Purdue University in the mid-1930s) because she was advising women to be all they could. I’m doing both today. We need at least 30% women around every decision-making table.
Q - What's the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date ?
It’s important to realize that you only have one life to live – how you live it is up to you. I’ve learned to how to be the CEO of Me, Inc. In turn, I make things happen for me rather than let things happen to me. You can’t let someone turn you into something they want you to be.
Q - What's your favourite business quotation or life motto ?
'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams' – Eleanor Roosevelt
Q - What's the best business book you've ever read ?
image: © Julian Lim