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How Can You Build a Successful Career?

Christie Coplen recently joined Gentherm’s Women Network for a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace. In this video, she shares the best career advice she’s received. View the video or read the transcript below:

Video: Gentherm Women's Network

Transcript

I had an early mentor that once told me "Be known for something." It's kind of like a pyramid or a house. Build a strong foundation, and then off of that, you can go multiple different ways. But whether you're an engineer, or you're in marketing or HR, whatever your specialty is (which is really where you're at coming out of school), start with a foundation and make sure you're known for that. And then that will give you opportunities to go into different arenas.

I think the second thing is to take risks. I didn't say "no" often. Actually, I don't think I ever said "no" when I got thrown crazy ideas or "Would you go to Mexico?" or whatever it was. I said "yes" a lot, even if it felt really uncomfortable, but I think that challenges you. That's growth, right? It’s not knowing what you're getting into.

What I always told myself is they're asking me for a reason. I can always go back to what I was good at. You can always come back to engineering, or marketing or HR, but go challenge yourself to take on new roles and learn something new.

At some point, you're going to need help. You've got to ask for it, but that's the key: Don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't have to apologize for it. You don't have to say "I'm sorry, but ..." You just have to say, "Hey, look. I've got this problem. How do we solve it? What would you do here?"

I've had lots of mentors. Ninety percent of my most impactful mentors were those that I sought or I had a connection with, who I got along with, and I've had them for over 20 years. My entire career, or even through university, I've kept in touch with them. So if you're not mentored, ask to be mentored by someone you get along with, or that you're connected to, and put yourself out there.

About the author
  • Christina Coplen

    Christie is a consultant in Spencer Stuart’s Industrial and Automotive practices, and a member of the firm’s Leadership Advisory Services team. She has extensive experience in digital and technology roles.