Nicole Fuller, 42
Principal at Deloitte
Mom to Madison, 9 Months
Several years ago, I had the good fortune to find a coach who helped me gain the skills—and gumption—I needed to boost my career. We met through a development program for high-potential managers. I had a tendency to under estimate my potential, even though I had won high marks for my industry knowledge, peoplemanagement skills and success in business development.
My coach helped me improve my self-assessment skills and make bolder choices. She also helped me think big.
Together we created a plan of action that included polishing my staff-management skills, growing my network and honing my client-consultation and business-development skills. Our plan enabled me to reach my goal of becoming a principal at Deloitte. Today I believe there’s no limit to what I can do.
Jose Van Dijk, 44
Senior Director, Global Operations for Cisco
Mom to Tobias, 11, and Nikki, 8
More than a decade ago, I moved from Amsterdam to Singapore to set up a customer and sales support operations team. I hired a local person from Singapore as my chief of staff and asked him to mentor me on local customs. I continuously asked for feedback from my team, but I felt I wasn’t getting the responses I had hoped to get. When I pleaded with my mentor to be honest, it turned out that I was being too direct, which is something that was perceived differently in this region. After I adjusted my approach, I was able to establish strong relationships with my team members and communicate effectively. Together we created a high-performing team with members in China, Korea, Singapore, Australia and Japan.
Denise Holloman, 50
Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Manufacturing Support for General Mills
Mom to Christopher, 19, and Shannon, 15
My aha! moment happened almost 10 years ago during a career discussion with a former manager. Prior to that conversation, I’d always approached my career from the perspective of “I just want to do meaningful work that I enjoy.” When I shared this with my manager, he smiled and said, “That’s fine. But in this game, that’s not how you keep score!”
He then told me that I was one of the most talented members in his organization (of which I was the only woman and person of color). At that moment, I realized I had allowed the subtle unsupportive messages, which often go along with being a “first” or an “only,” to seep into my psyche. I realized I had lowered my expectations and dimmed my aspirations. I wasn’t seeing what was possible. After this conversation I decided to go for it.
Grace Suh, 33
Senior Program Manager, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs for IBM
Mom to Jacob Leo Jaewoong Charny, 3
As someone with a passion for making a difference in the field of education and corporate citizenship, I know it’s up to me to generate new ideas that can become innovative programs and strategies. To help me stretch and think out of the box, I have a menu of people I consult, including a terrific mentor who has without a doubt helped me more than she knows.
She has encouraged me to network with high-level people in the company that I thought were beyond my purview. These busy executives have been very generous with their time, wisdom and insight. She also has encouraged me to meet with colleagues in other areas of the company that I thought were outside my interest areas. These experiences have made me more well rounded and knowledgeable within my current role.
Alexandra Vegaa, 38
Marketing Multicultural Director for Procter & Gamble
Mom to Andrea, 8, Alexia, 6, and Andres, 4
I believe in building relationships in which you do for others, both upward and downward, and in exchange they’ll do for you. Some years ago, I was given an assignment to revive a business where performance was declining and three of four direct reports had resigned. Management had suggested holding the last remaining team member back to provide business continuity, but when the ideal job came up for him, I decided to let him move. Years later, when I needed someone to take a nontraditional role on a small brand that was at risk of divestiture, I offered it to him.
He took it without any questions. That business ended up being tripled in size, not divested, and allowed the category to resume accelerated growth. It was a win for both of us.
Pictured: Nicole Fuller with her daughter Madison