I am often asked, “How did you do it? How did you become the CEO of a $10 billion dollar international, traditionally German-led company?”
It’s a common question, considering I am the first American and first female to serve in this role. As I often respond, it’s not just about delivering the business results or having passion for your industry—it’s truly a dedicated balance between creating a collaborative spirit for your teams to thrive, and delivering outstanding results based on the needs of your customer.
Two distinctive activities supported my career success:
Taking on big challenges and risks. I’ve changed industries more than six times and held a variety of leadership roles. These opportunities allowed me to run very different businesses and turn each around by focusing on the marketplace and changing industry dynamics.
To do this, I was always willing to take on what appeared to be risky roles, but ones that I thought, given my passions and interests, I could do well at. The road to the top was never a straight line. Sometimes you need to take on challenges that are different, and with different organizations to get there. So when those doors were opened for me, I walked right through.
Creating a collaborative spirit. This is so important in any role you are in throughout your career. Today, with the volatile markets, with uncertainty in the market and several generations working together, you can’t succeed without it. People need to be put at ease with each other to create a winning spirit that celebrates diverse perspectives based on different genders, generations, and geographies. I refer to these as the “3Gs” of diversity.