Our Impact

Our Top 8: Boston Chamber’s Pinnacle honorees offer their best advice for women entering the workforce

Posted by Haley Glenn on January 24, 2020

Our class of eight outstanding women leaders share their best advice for women in the workforce. Whether you’ve just finished tossing your graduation cap, have been cranking in your cubicle for years, or are shining at the senior level, we invite you to take a piece of advice from the incredible and innovative 2020 Pinnacle honorees.

Always advocate for yourself. If you think you have earned a promotion or raise or if you want a shot at a challenging new assignment, make your case. Don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you or think you are being too pushy; go for it! 

- Ashley McCown, President, Solomon McCown & Company

“Take on new challenges with enthusiasm, consistently push yourself beyond your comfort zone and really go for what you want in your career. Whenever you have a chance to take on something new, have confidence in what you bring to the table to tackle the challenge. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you grow, both professionally and personally. Whatever skills you don’t have at that moment in time, you’ll learn and carry with you to overcome the next hurdle. I learned over time to convert my fears and hesitations into determination and a “will-not-fail” attitude.” 

- Jane Steinmetz, Boston Office Managing Principal, Ernst & Young

“Believe in yourself, especially when you’re having your doubts. Embrace uncertainty, challenge, and even risk. And, at all times, try to pursue what you’re passionate about.”   

- Maura Healey, Attorney General, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

It is critical to recognize that no one (at least no one with any self-insight) is perfect or has a perfect life or career. You may look at successful individuals and think that they have everything figured out, but everyone is juggling life as fast as they can. Therefore, it is important not to be too hard on yourself, and to set goals. Start with baseline goals and keep “stretch” goals for an extended timeline. In my case, my baseline goals at my first real job were to stay married, stay employed, and keep my kids alive. My stretch goals were to lead a division and have accomplished research goals that improve patient health 10 years down the road. 

- Jennifer Tseng, MD, MPH, Surgeon-in-Chief, Boston Medical Center

Stay true to yourself and your temperament; don’t always try to be what others think you should be. While there are many books and recommendations out there about how women should function in the workplace, there are also individual strengths that we bring to our professional lives. Find your strength and utilize it, even if it’s not listed as a necessary factor in the “how to succeed” books.

 -Shari Nethersole, MD, Executive Director, Community Health, Boston Children's Hospital

“Be authentic: It is easy to conform to workplace norms in an effort to fit in and succeed. As women, especially women of color, we often conceal our true selves. You must appreciate that your distinctive life experiences will bring valuable perspectives to today’s complex business problems.  

Be bold: You must be brave to call out unfairness. Never settle for less, and always strive for excellence. Be positive: Always find the opportunities where you can make an impact. Act: Make things happen. Deliver results and take pride in your work.”

-Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, PhD, CEO, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)

You belong in every room you've ever entered – and in those you haven't gone into before. Trust yourself. Always be prepared and complete the circle as in pay it forward for others. 

-Rita German, Director, Community Investments, John Hancock

Speak up! Have the confidence to get into the conversation, be pithy, and make your mark. Don’t wait for an invitation. 

-Phyllis Yale, Advisory Partner, Bain & Company

Want more wisdom? Join us at our 2020 Pinnacle Awards this Friday, January 31 to hear from each one of our honorees.