Tag: Networking

Women Overcoming Interviewing Bias

Women Overcoming Interviewing Bias

According to a study on gender bias for entrepreneurs, women receive only 2% of venture funding. What about during job interviews? Could women help direct the questions to show their potential for advancement instead of focusing on how we won’t fail? When we get asked questions we can choose the answer the question in a way that redirects the train of thought to be more promotion oriented rather than prevention to highlight the opportunity for greatness. We can frame the response to be about the personal professional goals and vision. We can ask about milestones towards success.

During a recent casual conversation with a leader in my company, I was asked – How are you going to complete the project by the go live date? Similarly, how are you going to finish on time?  I wasn’t showing signs of risk of missing the deadline, but the way the question was framed at the prevention instead of focus on success is interesting.

How are you going to finish on time?

Biases can come at us during interviewing, networking, and even performance reviews.

As I prepare for growth opportunities as a project manager, I consider what I want people to remember. I want to make a positive impact. I want to lead others to success. I want to organize information to make sense of all the aspects and establish a plan of execution for a project that will have concrete physical results that will be celebrated by many people. I want to grow in responsibilities and size of the projects to establish something inspiring at the center of the happiest place on earth and say, I did that!  We can do better and I have a few ideas on moving this organization forward. If I get asked how will I prevent failure, I will frame my response with how I will achieve success!


Wrapping up the Year with Performance Reviews

Wrapping up the Year with Performance Reviews

It’s the end of another calendar year which could mean performance reviews for many people.  Throughout my career, I have had many different performance reviews, some good and some not so good.  I have even facilitated many performance reviews, also some good and some not so good.  One of my leaders that I greatly admired once told me that people should not be surprised at their performance review.  We need to continuously provide feedback.  But now it is the time where we are getting our annual feedback, so whether or not you have been getting feedback on a more regular basis prepare for this one!

You have written your goals and have been measured against them.  While some companies are discontinuing with these crazy complex things (http://qz.com/428813/ge-performance-review-strategy-shift/), they are still around in many businesses.  So how can you prepare?

  • First, go in to the meeting with a positive attitude.
  • Be prepared to ask about how you can demonstrate better performance for the upcoming year.
  • Ask for details for any generalities provided.
  • Be gracious for the opportunity to have your position and work in your company.
  • Finally, talk about your strategy for your career development.

Once you get to the performance review stage, your score, status, and rank have been vetted and determined by multiple layers of management, including HR.  You may have an opportunity to modify your overall review, which can be permanently stored in your employee profile, but having drastic changes are unlikely.  I have had my rating improved by hundredths of a point, that didn’t really change much.  Employees of mine have also successfully modified terminology in their review write ups.

The best way to set yourself up for success is the strategize right now for the upcoming year.  Have you established yourself as a respectable expert in your field?  Does your leadership and your leadership’s leaders know who you are?  Have you scheduled quarterly meetings with different leaders for mentoring (and networking) opportunities?  Do you take on the higher profile projects and finish them on time and within budget?  Are you making it easy to transition off the smaller jobs that can handed off to help develop newer employees so you can take the better projects?

Give yourself the gift of setting yourself up for success for this upcoming year.  Create a strategy and follow through to grow your professional network and expand your reputation as an expert in your field.

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.

Preparing for a Successful Interview

Preparing for a Successful Interview

I have been both the interviewer and the interviewee in many job placement meetings.  As an interviewer, I try to set up the candidate to be comfortable to answer my questions to help me determine if they will be a valuable asset to my team.  I look for potential fit with the team and myself, do they bring in any skills that is needed or adds value, do they match the passion level I am looking for with this role.  I prefer to have a conversation over standard questions.  Although if the conversation does not seem to flow or I have a set of skills that I need to make sure are covered, I do keep a list of questions such as:

  • Tell me about yourself.  Note that this should be like a 30 second elevator speech on what makes you a great candidate for this team and role.  Include an actual example story of something you have done for bonus points!
  • Tell me about a time you were in an (insert type of situation) situation.
  • How many golf balls fit in a school bus?

As an interviewee, I do my best to prepare to impress.  For the preparation:

  • Research the job applied for, do you have stories of your experience for each of the job requirements?
  • Learn what you can about the organization and the team members
  • Know your own resume
  • Make sure you wear highly professional clothes, I prefer the business formal clothes from Ann Taylor
  • Research the current team members or the people interviewing you on LinkedIn if known
  • Review standard interview questions and think of the most appropriate way for you to answer them (what is your greatest strength, weakness, why should I hire you?)
  • Prepare questions to determine the goals, priorities, problems, challenges, expectations, team vision, and what to expect during the interview process.

Taking the time to prepare for an interview is evidence of your desire to do well and provides insight to your dedication to the job you are applying for.  Prepare for the jump into a new position and set yourself up for success!


BONUS: More potential questions that I have used in interviews:

  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What value would you add to the company?
  • What is your work background?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • What is the best idea you ever came up with to improve your business?
  • How do you plan your day?
  • Describe your organizational skills
  • How have you dealt with conflicts, what would you change?
  • How do you handle working on multiple projects/tasks?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to be creative.
  • Name one challenge you were faced with in a previous position.
  • Describe the qualities that you have that would make you a good candidate for this position?
Boss Tan Lines

Boss Tan Lines

One of the leaders at Blizzard Beach told me to look at the guests feet. If the guests have very noticeable tan lines, they could be a lifeguard. The leaders at Blizzard Beach seem to have especially significant tan lines. Overall the leaders I have met have been truly helpful at Disney. For most positions, there is a three day learning period that ends with a knowledge assessment. Every day during this learning period I was paired with a different leader and learned some useful bits of information such as common issues and recommendations on resolving them. On my first full day being on my own at Blizzard Beach and I was having a difficult time constantly jumping in to help small kids at the catch pool of a slide with a strong current. One of the leaders, probably hearing my consistent whistles, came by to see what was going on. He did not admonish me, but was completely helpful by suggesting that I perform assists with my rescue tube while maintaining my watch over the water rather than stopping the slides and performing full jumping in rescues since they kids were not drowning, they were just struggling to get out of the current. It’s this kind of helpful and positive leadership that I appreciate.

At Disney, entry level cast members can become leaders as early as one year into their career.  This gives them an opportunity to lead others and learn leadership strategies.  Early leadership lessons are vital in establishing a leadership pipeline for companies.  Not all of the leaders I have come across appear confident in their leadership abilities, but they all do seem to want try to be better.  The open door policy seems to be well received at Disney and there are opportunities to talk with people at a variety of levels.  On my first day of training at Blizzard Beach,  I had the opportunity to talk to one of the managers of the lifeguards.  I let him know my strategy and goal to get into a technical leadership position at Disney.  He sincerely said he would help me get to utilize these open door policies to talk to other leaders about technical leadership at Disney.  I look forward to earning my boss tan lines as I grow at Disney.