Last week, I ushered in International Women’s Day with an inspiring panel of women leaders from Costco, Expedia, and Amazon. I recently joined The United Way Emerging Leaders program, and I have found their Speaker Series to be a highlight every month, always leaving the events feeling a bolt of inspiration. The Women in Leadership panel was particularly motivating. Questions from, “Where did you begin your career?” spanning to more complex ones such as, “What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?” were answered openly and honestly by the leaders.
A few pieces of advice resonated with me as these women reflected back on their journeys. This was a panel of only women, but the themes coming out of the night applied to all young people beginning their careers regardless of gender. I left realizing how lucky I am to have started my career at a company with a culture that encourages its people to “Own Your Career” from day one.
Here’s a quick recap of three lessons learned from these wise women, and how West Monroe’s culture encompasses them by telling us to “Own Your Career”…
Lesson #1 from a Wise Woman: When you follow your passions, opportunities will follow you
Each employee at West Monroe has their own career path and our uniqueness plays a crucial part in our company culture. Owning your career means leaning in to opportunities that incorporate our passions in the workplace, and at West Monroe there are plenty! There are opportunities to explore different industries or functional areas, join or start committees, spearhead initiative for change, and attend trainings that further ourselves personally and professionally. For example, our Chiefs program allows anyone to step up to lead initiatives related to things they are passionate about: we have a Chief Fitness Officer, a Chief Beer Officer and a Chief Photography Officer, among others.
Lesson #2 from a Wise Woman: Find a company that supports your definition of Work-Life Balance
West Monroe’s culture supports the concept of work-life integration. We are encouraged to bring our full selves to work, owning our career by incorporating what we love into our daily work routine. Our leaders also teach us the invaluable lesson that we are a better asset at work if we make time for the things that recharge us outside the office. The company requires that we write a Three Year Letter to ourselves. In this letter, we write about our hopes and goals for the next three years both personally and professionally. These letters are shared with our advocates at the company, our Career Advisors, who are as invested in helping us achieve personal success as they are professional.
Lesson #3 from a Wise Woman: Raise your hand for the hard opportunities and don’t get in your own way
Consulting is a profession where you move fast, learn fast, and are often in ambiguous environments. While this can seem overwhelming, West Monroe’s culture encourages employees to own their careers by accepting those challenges and stepping into them. Knowing we have a strong support system behind us through both our Career Advisors and more informal Coach relationships makes it easier to raise our hands for opportunities outside our comfort zone. If we don’t succeed from time to time, we are taught to fail fast and grow from that experience.
Thank you West Monroe Partners for teaching the next generation of leaders what it means to “Own Your Career,” just as these wise women from the panel did.