When people learn I enjoy mountain climbing, one of the first things they usually point to is the physical readiness it takes to scale in high altitudes. They’re right. Also key is mental preparedness because it isn’t just the body that’s being challenged, but also the mind. Any climb takes its physical toll on my body, but the mind is what keeps me moving during the most difficult and stressful times. Mental toughness, fierce determination and iron resolve are my best chances for success and those traits were in full swing when I ascended to the summit of K2.
Climbing Mountains: Figuratively and Literally
I love to be active, but above all I love to be mentally challenged. It’s the only way I can grow, evolve and self-improve. Because of this, I gravitate towards activities that teach me to perform well under pressure, whilst successfully navigating through vast amounts of change and elements I can’t control. This “need” spills over into my professional life as well, so it’s not at all surprising that I’ve chosen a career in the most exciting, changing and demanding industry today: technology. However, I wasn’t always on the fast track to a career in tech. In fact, the story of how I got to where I am today is rather unconventional.
Believe it or not, at 20-years of age, I was set on a career in fashion. I absolutely love clothes, style and the art of designing. What I didn’t know was how difficult it was to turn this passion into a lucrative career. While I was coming to terms with this reality, I was offered a great opportunity with a technology company. The job was simple: represent the company as a demonstrator at trade show events.
The job came with plenty of perks, such as a chauffeured car service, high quality, fashionable clothing and dry cleaning — all paid for. Best of all, I’d get to travel the world! There was one catch: I had to be able to talk intelligibly about this company’s technology. If I could do that with authenticity, the job was mine.
I began taking courses to understand technology: how it worked, its benefits and differentiators. In a short time, I learned I had quite a knack for it. While I was still enticed by the benefits, I couldn’t deny the technology interested me, especially in the ways it drove business.
Most satisfying was that everything I encountered in tech taught or challenged me in some way. I couldn’t get enough of it. I quickly moved up from showcasing technology to consulting on software systems and applications for various organizations. I gained invaluable insights and experience with financial systems, key business strategies and organizational structures. In just two years, I had grown from a hopeful fashionista into a successful product manager (while looking good the entire time!)
From Fashionista Extraordinaire to High-Tech CMO
Today, in my role as CMO at Avaya, I have the immense pleasure of working in a company that’s anchored by a commitment to continuous growth and change. I can strengthen my creative passions by leading an area of the business that’s defined by innovation. I’m able to constantly reimagine and reinvent in an industry that quite literally changes overnight.
Every day I remind myself how I was able to tap into my greatest potential because I made the decision to step through the doors of a classroom. I embraced change, rather than hesitate at the idea of it. I lived outside of my comfort zone and, in my experience, that’s where the most rewarding growth occurs.
I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I had let the uncertainty of change prevent me from seeing that glowing opportunity. I understand that not everyone has the inclination to fearlessly venture into the unknown; however, I do know there are opportunities out there for everyone to seize.
Does change excite or intimidate you? If the latter, what have you done to overcome it? With life all about learning and growing, what small changes can you make today that will help advance a goal or seize an opportunity in your professional life?