Month: August 2016

Beyond Certification, Gaining Respect through Visibility

Beyond Certification, Gaining Respect through Visibility

Over 10 years ago when I graduated college with my shiny new electrical engineering degree, I was certain I was going to be Vice President of a large company someday.  A decade later, I have experienced many things on my career journey, but I have yet to rise beyond a front line manager at work.  I do continued to pursue expanding my leadership skills and gaining exposure to learn from and network with influential people.

When I was a manager overseeing a team of analysis professionals, I had one gentleman that was eager to leap onto the leadership track.  He recently obtained his MBA and wanted to put his hard earned knowledge to work.  He asked me what he could do to break into leadership. I recommended that he consider expanding his network and proving his leadership interests and abilities through work related clubs.  While he argued that he already knew a lot of people in the company.  He may have known many people but they were not in a position that could champion and promote him.  As his leader, I could give him assignments that would provide more exposure and leadership, but he would be limited to our particular team.  While it is important to establish roots and do a good job at your task, making an effort to go beyond your individual program opens up many more opportunities.  Advertise your goals with your team and professional network.  Our company did have many clubs, diversity groups, and a management club that are looking for leaders to work with their executive sponsors to increase engagement and support the business.

I continue to gain leadership experience and exposure that provides valuable experiences through extracurricular type activities.  I remain active in my clubs such as the Society of Women Engineers and Project Management Institute.  I also get involved in leadership roles through my family, supporting my son as a leader in the Cub Scouts and filling in as a stand in assistant coach for my daughter.  It’s amazing the people you can meet through organizations and clubs through your company and external.  With the Society of Women Engineers, I gained professional contacts that helped me get to my current position that I thoroughly enjoy.  Through my daughter’s sport leagues, I have met colleagues that work in similar lines of business within my company that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.

Recently, I attended a meeting with the executives in my organization.  This meeting was an opportunity to learn about our leadership and network.  In that meeting, the speaker discussed his journey to rise in one of his first career paths as an electrician.  Eager to earn a better paycheck and knowing he had the textbook knowledge, he voluntarily took and passed certification to make it to the next level, a journeyman electrician.  The only issue was that he was still seen as an apprentice electrician at work.  When he asked to get the journeymen related work due  to his new certification, he was turned down.  He had not proved he can do the job he was assigned to do as an apprentice.  He did not have a champion to support him making the next level.  It takes more than just a certification to grow in a company, rising above your current role also requires networking and proven work.  Through all these examples, it proves that if you want to grow, plant some roots and get involved.

Using Efficiency to Make Magic

Using Efficiency to Make Magic

At Walt Disney World the top priorities include Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency.  Together these priorities are called the four keys.  Out of the four keys, efficiency is a foundation the other keys can leverage.  Efficiency can improve safety, provide more opportunities for guest interaction for increased courtesy, and enhance show.  Everyone can play a role in efficiency at work.  Disney strives to deliver high quality service.  At work, employees or cast members can think about how to be more efficient in order to deliver extraordinary service?

Disney has processes in place to support the mission of being one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.  For Disney, efficiency means process innovation and empowerment.  This means that Disney Cast Members have the opportunity to be innovators.  They have the power to propose ways to innovate processes to grow our service to be extraordinary quality service, to feel magical.  Lee Cockerell, former Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort understood the principle of magic.  He said. “It is not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes it magic.” So whatever your job or role, leader or front line individual contributor, make magic and strive for efficiency to help deliver extra ordinary customer service.


Perseverance Pays Off

Perseverance Pays Off

After five months of working hard and saving lives as a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach, I have been offered an opportunity with Disney’s Safety team.  After two months of showing my dedication to the company, I sat down to share my plan and goals with the leader of the Blizzard Beach water park.  Due to her ongoing support I had nearly two dozen Meet and Greets / interviews across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  It was an amazing opportunity to learn about different business segments and expand my professional network.  Nearly every single free day I had during the week was dedicated to growing my professional influence through expanding my network, researching Disney business units and potential opportunities.  It was exhausting work and a little stressful hoping that I would connect with the Disney leaders that I had the privilege to meet.  My resume got tuned up, my response to tell me about yourself was refreshed to focus on what I could highlight about myself to be of interest to the audience, and my business professional wardrobe was extensively used (thanks again Ann Taylor for helping me dress professionally!).  Repeatedly, I have seen the formula for success, sometimes it was tweaked, but overall it follows the simple equation:

Success = (Leadership + Management) x Technical Skills x Relationships

I have recently achieved a huge success, starting yesterday I am a Disney Professional!  I proudly wear my Disney badge over my professional personal clothes, seek to better the company through managing a project for safety performance alignment, and am growing my knowledge of the workings of the company.  So far I have witnessed the emphasis the professional cast place on business relationships.  I look forward to helping drive the number one priority Safety through my new role!

Crafting a Response to Tell Me About Yourself

Crafting a Response to Tell Me About Yourself

In any networking event or interview, you should be prepared to respond to the request to “Tell me about yourself.”  They key to response is to tailor your summary to be relevant to the situation.  This request is not asking for your entire life story.  You should be prepared with a quick 30 second to 2 minute response.  In an interview situation, this is your opportunity to highlight why you would be a great candidate for the team.  Including a quick story of an achievement will help you make a memorable impression.  A recommended response includes the following three parts:

  1. Past overview, a top level highlight of career history
  2. Story of a relevant accomplishment and how it impacted your organization
  3. Your career goals

Great examples of the response are written down on many online profiles, such as the ones found on LinkedIn.  Take a look at your current colleagues, potential colleagues, teams, and leaders.


Examples of great response:

Transformational leader with a proven track record of successfully integrating intricate, high performing, and diverse teams to meet project milestones and exceed performance goals.

In addition to overseeing the development and implementation of program strategy, I have established teams to actively drive activities aligned with the vision and mission, provided technical leadership and have consulted for a variety of volunteer organizations.

Innovative, analytical and intuitive leader with a belief of seeking balance of team member strengths, business processes, and enabling technology.


Influential leader with a passion for process improvement. Confident and effective communicator with strong interpersonal and analytical skills, driven to achieve goals and enhance knowledge.

In addition to leading an analytics team to ensure continuous supportability, I have established common processes across a variety of programs while working with stakeholders across all levels of organizations.

Recognized professional development advocate, focusing on business etiquette, volunteerism, and educating the future.