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Skills and Talents of Pianist Make for Great Perfumer

So many of us grew up thinking that you need to have specific skills and talents to enter a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) That unless you are a nerd with a highly analytical and logical mind, you couldn’t enter the field. Today we interview a mother and daughter who prove our assumption wrong.

For the past 24 years, Judith (Jude) Hollingshead has developed perfumes for Olay, Pantene, Herbal Essence, Fabreze, Pampers and other P&G brands. Mind you, there are only around a thousand perfumers in the world.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

When I first met her I was curious about what skills and talents are required to be a perfumer and how does someone even decide to become one. The answer surprised me and I wanted to share it with you. See, Jude is not the stereotypical nerd most of us imagine would choose chemistry as a career plan. She was a piano player who studied Chemistry and became a perfumer. And most of it happened because someone saw skills and talents in her that she didn’t yet see.

Because she was always curious and willing to try new things she explored the possibilities presented by others and has had an incredibly successful career as a result. Along the way she has raised, as a single mother, two children. Her daughter Shealyn, a very artistic child, is now finishing her sophomore year as a student of Chemical Engineering at Ohio University – Russ School of Engineering. We talk to both of them about their unusual experience.

Skills and talents required for the job

MD- You are currently a perfumer at P&G. What skills and talents does your job require?

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

JH- Perfumery is a blend of Art and Science. A perfume is made up of a blend of

100’s of individual ingredients. A perfumer needs to understand how the ingredients’ smell and how they blend together to form specific odor. For example, an orange is made of materials XYZ, and an Apple is made up of materials ABYZ. A perfumist needs to understand how all the 1000’s of materials smell and how to combine them to achieve a specific and pleasant odor.

So the skill necessary to become a perfumist is, first and foremost, an excellent sense of smell. Another skill that is a close second in importance is the joy of smelling, and desire to constantly want to push out on the boundaries of what is possible. Most perfumers are never satisfied with the perfumes they make, they are constantly working on making them better.

MD- Did you grow up wanting to be a perfumer?

JH- I grew up in the Midwest in the USA. I had a very traditional family. My mother was a stay at home mom who managed the family and my father was a banker

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

with a 9-5 job. I was not even aware that the career of perfumer was a possibility. In fact, I grew up not even thinking about having a “career” because I did not have very many role model females in my life for this. Throughout my childhood I studied piano, and as I got into my teen years I began to think about what I would do for the rest of my life. Since piano was such an integral part of my life it made sense that continuing to study music, specifically as a performance major in college, would be my course of action. And I pursued that thru about my senior year in High school. It was that year, that my High School Chemistry/ Physics teacher approached me to discuss my high aptitude for Chemistry, Math and Physic. And encouraged me to investigate this as career and major in College.

I am always up to trying new ideas so I began to investigate this direction as an alternative. I found the world of science that year and while I still play piano today and love classical music, I have never regretted becoming a scientist/Perfumer!

We can help you explore your interests and passions at any level of your career! Sign up for our Step Up Program!

MD- Which of the skills and talents needed to be a concert pianist could you transfer to a career in Chemistry?

JH- The most important skill that transfers from music performance to chemistry/perfumery is hard work, tenacity and the pursuit of perfection

As a performer you must work hard and practice constantly to get a piece to perfection. This is the same for perfume experiments. We are constantly reworking the blend of ingredients to make the perfume the most perfect execution of the idea that we have in our head.

Both represent a sensorial experience. A piano performance is an auditory sensory experience and a perfume is an olfactive sensory experience. And both should give the receiver of the experience a sense of pleasure and enjoyment.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don't. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith's extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don’t. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith’s extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

MD- What exactly did you think you’d do in this field?

JH- My high school teacher was a huge influence to help me understand I had an aptitude for the hard sciences and the job opportunities that were available.

I realized that while I could always have music with me, that science was a new pursuit I would have to learn.

In college, I fully immersed myself into my science studies, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but as I went to Graduate school to pursue my doctorate, I started working in the area of superconductors and semi –conductors. This was an emerging area, and I loved the research.

It was only after I finished graduate school and started to investigate potential companies that the idea of becoming a perfumer became an option.

Definition of perfumer

Definition of perfumer

As part of the job placement services at Iowa State University, our resumes are posted for recruiting companies to review and request interviews.   Procter and Gamble chose me to interview. I had no intention of seriously considering working for P&G because they did not do work research in the area I had focused on in my studies. I was frankly surprised that they even wanted to interview me.

The interview took a strange turn as the interviewer did not ask me about my research or my work in chemistry, as was the case with all my other interviews. He continually probed me on the hobbies I listed on my resume: playing piano and needlework.

I finally asked him about this and he told me that P&G was interested in someone with a strong scientific background and with a strong interest, skills and talent in artistic, creative endeavors. He explained the job of perfumers, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of being able to use both my creative, artistic side and my technical work. I loved the idea so much I took the chance and shifted my career to perfumery.

Here's a post about an orthopedic surgeon "I find my passion in the most unexpected places."

Like mother like daughter

MD- Shealyn, you are finishing your sophomore year in college. You’re studying Chemical Engineering but you also have the skills and talent to follow an artistic career. What made you decide to give engineering a shot?

Shealyn Holligshead

Shealyn Holligshead

SH- My mom was very persistent in showing me that I would exceed in my academic endeavors as a woman in STEM even though she knew I would be successful in the art field. What really persuaded me to turn my attention to STEM was that she showed me a Ted Talk by Debbie Sterling about a woman in the engineering field. This Ted Talk was about how Debbie created a children’s toy for young girls that will inspire them to build and create like most boy toys that are currently sold today. Her point was that most girl toys, like Barbie’s, teach girls at a young age to focus on building relationships not physical things.

Deb’s talk discussed her struggle to get through school as a woman in STEM, and then on getting her toy design to the market. This Ted Talk really caught my attention, and I decided that I should give STEM a shot because I have the creative ability to innovate. I just needed to apply this ability to a more advanced curriculum to create/innovate more practical inventions that I believe can have a larger impact on the world.

MD- Jude, what are some of the aspects of your career that you love the most?

JH- In my job I get to develop a perfume that is used by millions of consumers. I consider myself very lucky to be able to touch peoples live and make them more enjoyable. I love the ability to work on perfume design for our products. A tremendous amount of effort goes into making sure the right perfume gets combined with the right product at P&G. In addition to that, in other parts of my job, I get to also work on technical upstream research this allows me to use my technical scientific talents. I have the best of both worlds.

Skills and talents needed to enter a career in STEM

MD- From your own individual experiences, what recommendations do you have for young women and their mothers regarding careers in STEM? Do people need to have a specific set of skills and talents or should a wider range of women give careers in STEM a try?

JH- Having a career in the STEM field can be exceptionally rewarding and I believe we need more women to bring their viewpoints to the problems of today. So many women are brought up to believe that they are nurturing, caring or creative and that this is the direct opposite of STEM. It is a misconception that STEM careers require highly logical and analytical mindsets. In reality, we need MORE highly Creative people to be trained in STEM to develop new Inventions and solve today’s problems in NEW and CREATIVE ways.

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

Another post on finding your passion with your nose you'll love.

SH- When I talk to young women who are considering going into the STEM field, the first thing they ask is, “how hard is the schooling and the work?” It took me aback the first few times I heard this because I never considered this when I chose Chemical Engineering. Maybe this was because my mom is a woman in STEM and my whole life I saw how possible it was to succeed in this field. I never considered the difficulty. But being asked this many times has given me the chance to really consider how to answer this question. It has led me to my most common recommendation for young women:

Whatever you choose to do for your education and/or work life is going to be difficult whether it is STEM or not. It is going to take a lot of work and effort to be successful in any field you choose. So, if you are interested in STEM fields, go for it!

My experience has been that every class I have taken has been nothing but foreign and intimidating to me. The only way to get through it is to just apply yourself and do the work. Eventually, it won’t be so foreign and intimidating. After working thru a class for 15 weeks, by the end, you will be close to mastering the material if you put in the work. I strongly believe that a wider range of women should give STEM a try, especially if you have any interest in science, math or technology.

I would never recommend it, however, to someone who has no interest in these topics.

 

You can connect with Jude Hollingshead via email at Hollingshead.JA@pg.com or on Linkedin: Judith Hollingshead.

She shares her artistic endeavors (weaving, sewing quilts, knitting and other lace making techniques) on her Instagram: Judeh22

You can reach Shealyn Hollingshead at: ShealynHollingshead@gmail.com or on Linkedin under Shealyn Hollingshead.

 

Finding a Mentor to Propel Your Career Forward

If you are the first in your family to go to college or to work in a large organization, and you didn’t have many professional role models growing up, you may not be fully aware of the value of finding a mentor. Yet, the sooner you realize it, the better for your career prospects.

The practice of mentorship systems goes back to ancient Greece and to the beginning of most religions. But the modern use of “mentor” and “career mentorship” in the U.S. started in the mid 70s. That’s when advocates for workplace equity tried to identify and address obstacles for the career growth of non-dominant groups.

Inspirational mentoring quote by Marisol Gonzalez

Finding a mentor is a wonderful way to make your journey a much more fulfilling one!

Marisol Gonzalez, Producer at HBO, shares the impact of mentors in her career: “I have been lucky enough to have great mentors. People who believed in me even when I didn’t believe I could do something.  Mentors have impacted me greatly.  They have guided me to be the best I can.  They have pushed me to always work towards excellence.  The biggest impact that my mentors have made in my life is that I know I am not alone on this journey. They have my back, and they are there for me.”

Is there a process for finding a mentor?

Well, if you’re not surrounded by professionals in your field, finding a mentor is a task you must undertake deliberately. You should join professional organizations and attend conferences where you can easily meet the right people. Start developing the relationships as you would with anyone else, and eventually establish either a formal or informal mentoring relationship. Most people’s first mentors tend to be their bosses. The advantage here is that your boss knows your job, the culture of your organization, and your field. The disadvantage is that if conflict ever arise with your boss, then you have nobody to consult with.

Finding a mentor inspirational quote by Will Robalino

Most mentors agree that they derive great satisfaction from seeing their mentees’s dreams become realities.

So you may start with your boss and then set out finding a mentor outside of your organization. Keep in mind that you can have more than one mentor and you can also change mentors as your career evolves and your interests change.

Informal mentoring relationships

Also, when finding a mentor, it’s good to admit that many mentoring relationships are pretty informal. If you have a relationship with someone you really trust, admire and like, you may be able to “use” them as your mentors without formally asking. These can be very fulfilling and productive relationships. Lily Benjamin, SVP Leadership development and organization transformation at a large financial institution in the banking industry, shares:

Two women talking

Have you ever tried this powerful modality of mentoring?

“I have never had a formal mentor, but have had many informal mentoring relationships.  Everyone has valuable attributes that we can learn from, whether we admire or disapprove of them.  Given that we, humans, are evolving creatures, to become our better selves, it is imperative that we are conscious and open to continuous learning.  Being humble and receptive is necessary to make the best out of our relationships with either formal or informal mentors.  That is why I believe the Chinese proverb that says, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’  Because I am a perpetual learner, I learned from my mentor-figures how to think critically, network, and be respected.  As a result, I am very comfortable with ambiguity, navigating through complex matrix environments, and building meaningful relationships in support of everyone.”

Difference between formal and informal mentoring

Some research shows that finding a mentor and establishing a formal relationship results in more promotions than informal relationships. So besides having a supportive group of informal mentors, you should find someone who understands what it takes to make it in your field. Someone with whom you can establish a more formal mentoring relationship. That means, someone you meet regularly, who sees your potential, challenges you to achieve what you sometimes feel impossible, and helps you set your goals.

What you should know before you go off finding a mentor

Before you go off finding a mentor you should know that research shows that diverse employees (and women) tend to have less access to mentors in their organizations. And often, when they are assigned mentors, they tend to be of lower hierarchical level. Inevitably, this affects the access that the mentor has and the probability he or she will become a sponsor for the mentee. So, if you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to talk to your boss or to the HR team so you may be paired with an executive who can mentor you.

It’s also worth understanding why someone would invest time in your development. To this effect, the answers from these two executives resonate with most mentors I know.

Lucía Ballas-Traynor, a senior marketing and media executive, said:

Lucia Ballas Traynor mentoring quote

It’s important to know your potential mentor’s motivation for investing time and energy in you.

“My main trigger on mentoring others is the fact that I did not have mentors who truly understood the unique challenges faced by a Latina early on in my career.  I had no one to turn to when I needed advice, words of encouragement or just a likeminded sounding board who could share lessons learned from their real-world experience, when I needed it most!  I find that companies and leadership (especially male-dominated) are not taking the time to coach and develop the next generation of professionals.  Consequently the need for mentorship has increased.”

William Robalino, VP, Controller at Prudential Annuities, shares: “There are many reasons I enjoy mentoring. My biggest is the satisfaction I get in seeing someone’s goals and interests become a reality.”

Don’t miss my article on coaching and mentoring where I review different types of mentoring relationships.

The more you know the value you can bring to you mentor, the more productive the relationship. And the more interested your mentor will be in investing time in you. That’s why my biggest recommendation is: Think of the mentoring relationship as a two-way street. Bring as much value to your mentors as they bring you. Explore your mentor’s agenda, their goals, their aspirations and find ways to support them.

Role model inspirational quote by Mariela Dabbah

Role model inspirational quote by Mariela Dabbah

Role models inspire you by showing you what is possible with their own example. Mentors help you manifest your dreams and goals. They can help make the impossible possible. So surround yourself with the greatest mentors to achieve your greatest potential.

And if you are serious about finding mentors and coaches to propel your career forward, consider joining our Step Up program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How asking for feedback can propel your career

It’s hard to argue against the benefits of asking for feedback. Only by finding out other’s perceptions of your performance can you make the appropriate adjustments.

As this Harvard Business Review article points out, asking for feedback is an invaluable learning tool that we should use as a coaching device for ourselves and for others.

Recently, at the end of one of our RSM Step Up monthly coaching sessions, Jess, one of our members, asked: “How could I get my colleagues to tell me the negative things, not only the positive things?”

Feedback sign

Asking for feedback is the best way to grow in your career

It’s not always easy to get people to give you useful feedback. As a matter of fact, we could almost divide people in two groups. Those ready to commit honesticide (homicide by honesty) who would tell you the harshest truths without regard for the consequences, and those who’d rather protect the relationship and hold back telling you anything that could potentially offend you.

The thing is, people from the second group could be your best allies in fulfilling your career goals. If they shared with you opportunities for improvement you could substantially accelerate your growth. The secret lies in knowing how to ask for feedback.

Only by finding out other's perceptions of your performance can you make the appropriate adjustments

Asking for feedback is an art! Learn how to master it!

The art of asking for feedback

Asking for feedback and getting all the feedback is an art. Because you must convey that you want to hear the truth and that you are not just fishing for compliments. And so that we are clear, the art is not only in asking for feedback but in knowing how to receive it gracefully.

Here are a couple of examples that will help you move from receiving purely positive feedback to one that includes some negative aspects you can work on.

Asking for feedback the right way

Q— What did you think of my participation on the panel?

A— Wonderful! You had great energy up there!

Q— Is there something I could’ve done differently to be more impactful?

A— Well, perhaps you could’ve highlighted a bit more your team’s participation in reaching the goals.

Q— Ok. Anything else you would’ve done if you had been in my place?

A— Mmmm… Maybe I would’ve avoided making a joke about how badly women drive. I know it was a joke but it’s a stereotype and some people found it offensive.

What would you do if you were in my place? Do you want real feedback? Show your vulnerability!

Nothing like showing your vulnerability to receive both positive and negative feedback

Q— I’d like you to give me feedback on my performance and areas where I could improve.

A— You’ve grown a lot in the last six months and you’ve taken risks that have exposed you to new experiences. I think you’re on the right path.

Q— Thanks! It’s true that I’ve grown a lot but I have the impression that some of my colleagues don’t feel comfortable with me and I can’t figure out why. What am I missing?

A— Not sure what you’re referring to…

Q— They don’t ask me to take part in their projects and although they are very diplomatic with me, something is off. What have you noticed? What have you heard them say about me? It would really help me understand their perception of me to make any necessary changes.

A— Well, sometimes you come across as very critical of others. I’m not sure if it’s because you have high expectations or why but people resent it when you seldom have a word of recognition for a job well done, yet you always have a critical comment at the ready.

Q— Ah… thanks for your honesty. Sometimes, I think my biggest contribution to the team is to notice what doesn’t work. You know, what works well already works. It’s a mistake on my part and I will change.

Feedback sign

If you want to accelerate career growth you should seek the input of those you work with.

The key of getting this kind of more nuanced feedback is to be vulnerable and dig beyond the initial comments. Make the person feel comfortable enough with you so they take the risk of sharing any negative feedback that they anticipate you taking too hard. And of course, the second key is that this exercise only works if you are open and drop any defenses. The moment you start denying what someone is telling you, you can be sure that person will never talk to you honestly again.

Asking for feedback has so many advantages that once you get over the natural aversion most people have to hearing constructive criticism you’ll identify many more opportunities to continue your development.

This is exactly the type of coaching we do at the RSM Step Up Program. Check it out!

 

2 Insights to Be Happier at Work

Considering that only 13% of the world’s workforce feels engaged, chances are you could use a boost to be happier at work.

In 2013, a Gallup global survey revealed that with only 29% of engaged employees, North America was the region with the highest employee satisfaction. That means that over 70% of people spend at least 8 hours a day feeling unhappy! If you are one of them, wouldn’t you love to learn how to get excited about going to work?

Celebrating career success

Celebrating career success

Factors that contribute to a feeling of disengagement

According to the American Employee Study (and my own experience), there are several main reasons why you may not be happy at work:

  • Not feeling heard. You don’t have an opportunity to speak your mind or, when you do, no action is taken.
  • Having no sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Sensing that your bosses don’t know your career goals.
  • Not receiving training for your role.
  • Unfair compensation.
  • Not being recognized for your accomplishments.

How to get excited about going to work

If you checked off a few of the bullet points above, you’re not alone. Here are two amazingly simple things you can do to feel more engaged at work almost immediately.

  1. Align your career goals with your life purpose

Quite frequently, people have roles that don’t align with their life purpose, their interests or their passions. When this happens, it’s hard to stay engaged. Even when you receive a promotion, you don’t feel like putting in the effort for the higher position in an area of no interest to you. Say your passion is sales but you are in an administrative position. Even if they make you an executive administrator, you’re unlikely to feel more engaged.

You owe it to yourself to discover your interests and align them with your career goals

Look inside to figure out what interests you!

If you sense that this is the reason for your lack of engagement, take some time to find your passion, to figure out what your interests are, to discover what I call your inner red shoe/tie. That exploration may help you realize that you need a career track change, which may entail going back to school to get the right degree or certification.

Considering how much longer our productive life is, you can easily have several careers. Don’t let the lack of a degree stop you from feeling happier at work. There are tools out there, such as the Phoenix Career Guidance System, that can help you figure out what might be the perfect career track for you.

Once you have clarity around this, you’ll be better able to adjust your career path and, consequently, your daily work will be aligned with your interests.

  1. Take back control

There are times when you might feel you have very few options. For example, either you stay in a role that doesn’t fit your long-term goals, or you need to quit your job (something you can’t afford right now). This feeling of lack of control over your circumstances creates a lot of anxiety.

Not too long ago, a colleague of mine was about to resign from a job she loved after 10 wonderful years. She felt she had no other option. Why? A new boss had been hired to replace her admired retiring leader, and he wasn’t a good match for the position. He wasn’t interested in developing his team or in the initiatives they had been working on. He offered no recognition for a job well done.

Even when you think there are no options you can always make a decision to take back control

You can always make a different decision even when the options are limited.

Then my colleague decided that rather than accepting passively the new boss’s lack of leadership she would demonstrate her own leadership skills whenever she had the chance. She started organizing meetings with her team rather than expecting the boss to do so. She developed several new strategic partnerships for her company and became a mentor for a few junior colleagues. As a result, she re-engaged and was happy to go to work again.

So keep in mind that even in the face of limited options, you frequently have the ability to make a decision that enables you to take back control of your circumstances. As I mentioned above, that decision may involve furthering your education so that you are free to pursue a position where you are happier. It’s worth remembering that whenever you feel in control, you feel more engaged, and therefore more fulfilled at work.

You deserve to be happy. Explore your passions

There’s nothing like exploring what you love to be happier at work

Spending as much time as we do at work, we owe it to ourselves to be happy. Don’t let one more day go by without reviewing your situation and putting into practice these two suggestions. They will help you feel more engaged at work sooner than you think.

 

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Blaze A Unique Career Path All the Way to the Top

You can’t put her in a neat box. She doesn’t fit any Latina stereotype or female stereotype for that matter. Hers is a unique career path that she blazed one step at a time. Get inspired! Read on!

How often do you meet someone who’s excited about their career and a few minutes later you scratch your head perplexed: How did she get that job? When you look at her resume it’s hard to figure out how she went from one position to the next. It’s obvious to you she followed an unusual career path. She probably broke every rule any recruiter would ever advice you to follow. And yet… she’s wildly successful. Not only because she has a fantastic job but mostly because she loves what she does and it shows. Maybe that has been her secret all along. Pay no attention to the rules, the naysayers, or the box makers. Just define a unique career path that suits your personality, your multiple interests and talents and voila! You got yourself a happy life.

Cosette Gutierrez, an amazing example of unique career path. Get inspired! Read on!

Cosette Gutierrez, an amazing example of unique career path

So who is she? And what does her unique career path look like?

Cosette Gutiérrez, Senior Group Manager, Community Relations at Target (in charge of Target’s Education giving across key markets in the Northeast Region), a Member of the Board of Directors at the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, and Chairman Emeritus, National Board of Directors of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.   That’s for her current occupations.

Here’s what we mean by a different career path. Prior to her current position, Cosette was a Store Team leader at Target, Senior VP at Bank of America, Commodity Manager at Honeywell International, Assistant VP at Citibank, and Product Coordinator at H. Muehlstein and Company. Her education? A BS from MIT and MBA from Indiana University. Yup. A Latina graduate from MIT who went from managing the procurement of Natural Rubber from Indonesia to banking to retail to philanthropy in one sweep lifetime.

Cosette Gutierrez

Cosette Gutierrez

Are unique paths created with a master plan?

How did this happen? Did you have a master plan for your career or did it just turn out to be a unique without you realizing it?

I definitely did not have a master plan for what my career would be like! I have always been flexible and eager to try new things, which led me to many opportunities. I always focus on a very simple formula for achieving success: Performance + Passion = Promotion.   Performance is about working hard, and striving to be the best at every job you have. You will never get to the next great job without being a rock star in the one you have today. Passion is about loving what you do, every day! If you don’t love the job, it is time to find another one. Life is too short to be doing something that you don’t love! When you perform, and you are passionate, it shows, and that’s how you will get that next role, where you’ll begin the formula again…Performance + Passion = Promotion!

What allowed you to think that you could break away from any preconceived notions of what your career should look like?

Believing in myself and my capabilities, and learning to not take “no” for an answer! If there is something that I want to do, but don’t know how, then I focus on learning how to do it. I’ve always been an avid learner, and focused on filling “my toolbox” with all kinds of skills. Some you use often, others not, but you have them there, and you’d be surprised when they are needed! Like public speaking for example. People always compliment me on my ability to speak to any audience, ranging from an intimate gathering around a dinner table, to a large room of thousands.

Cosette Dec 2014 American Latino Influencer Awards Miami

Cosette Dec 2014 American Latino Influencer Awards Miami

They are also surprised when I tell them I was an introvert as a child and hated speaking in public. While in college, I knew this skill would be very valuable, so I took an acting class, where I learned how to think and speak on my feet, as well as memorizing lines, and manage my emotions. At the time, my MIT classmates teased me about my “acting class”. Fast forward to today, I am very grateful for that experience as it allows me to shine in all that I do!

Sometimes being the first person in your family to do something makes it harder to stray away from the known paths and pick a unique career path

Were you the first in your family to go to college? Did that give you more or less freedom to choose a different career?

Neither of my parents completed high school. My aunts and uncles attended college in our native Dominican Republic, and my great grandfather was a self-taught doctor, so we knew that it was in my genes J. Navigating the U.S. college system was not easy, but I was extremely fortunate to have a mom who believed in me, and always pushed me to achieve more. She knew that education was the key to success in the United States, and I was encouraged to study, many times at the expense of being with friends, and going to parties. I grew up watching my mom work in the bridal business, something which brought her much joy, and she always told me to “do what you love darling”. So, as I began to navigate different career options, her questions were always “Do you like the job? Will it make you happy? Are the people nice?” Of course, she usually followed up with “I hope the pay is good”! As long as I answered yes to her questions, I knew that I’d be okay. Thank goodness, it has turned out better than okay!

Her unique career path took Cosette Gutierrez to her current job at Target. Here, about to get on the Target Jet! Read her story!

Her unique career path took Cosette Gutierrez to her current job at Target. Here, about to get on the Target Jet!

What would you say is the secret to your success? And let’s not chuck it to luck.

I mentioned Performance and Passion before, and will reinforce that Performance is critical to success. Work, work, work, work – successful people work really hard! My experience has been that successful people aren’t hanging around resting on their successes. Once they achieve something they have been pursuing, they move onto the next achievement.   In addition to hard work, having great mentors and listening to them, especially when you do not like what they have to say, is part of the success equation. I have been blessed to have strong mentors in my life, leaders who believed in me, and supported me in some of my craziest adventures. My motto on mentors is simple…if your mentors only tell you that you are awesome, it’s time to find other mentors. Find people who care enough to give you true feedback and push you to take risks that you wouldn’t think of taking.

FInd out how to find corporate mentors and career sponsors.

Cosette Gutierrez Quote on Mentors

Cosette Gutierrez Quote on Mentors

What would you say to women who don’t fit in a box? What’s the best way to go about creating your unique work path even when you have few role models to show you how to do it?

My recommendation is to make your own box! It’s much more fun that way than trying to fit into someone else’s box. I love it when people say to me “you did what?!?” Your life is only yours to live, and you should do so with no regrets. I’m saddened by people who live lives that are less than what they want or what they are capable of. There are too many people in our society who are happy with being average. Don’t settle! Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail. There are learnings in every failure. The key is to not make the same mistakes twice.  Lastly, do not be afraid of asking others for help. You are probably not the first person to experience the situation that you are in, and for those of us who have been there before, it would be our pleasure (and our responsibility) to help you. You are never alone!

You can follow Cosette Gutiérrez on Twitter: @CosetteNYC

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