I STARTED AT THE BOTTOM… NOW I’M THE BOSS!

23 Jun

Mellody Hobson President, Ariel  Investments

STARTED AS: Intern

In 1989, the Princeton University sophomore scored a summer internship at  Chicago-based Ariel Investments, then a small boutique investment firm. Her sole  responsibility: answering founder John Rogers’ mail. Hobson, now 43, rose  through the ranks quickly, becoming president a decade later.

TIP #1: MEASURE SUCCESS IN YEARS, NOT  MONTHS. “When I look at a résumé and see a lot of jobs, I can’t be sure  of the person’s success. Many people leave jobs just in time—they fail up.  Someone sent me a cartoon once that said, ‘One job for 20 years. What, no get up  and go?’ I feel it’s just the opposite—longevity projects a positive statement.  I’ve always had long-term goals, but I know I don’t have to hit them in months.  I’m patient. That says something to a client: ‘When you hire me, I’m not going  anywhere.'”

TIP #2: SHOW—DON’T TELL—HOW GREAT YOU ARE.  “Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz called me up and said, ‘We’d love to have you on  our board. But you’re very young—we’re going to have to get to know you first.’  I remember thinking, Don’t push—being overly aggressive will lose you this  opportunity. So I told him, ‘However long it takes, I’ll wait for you to  come back to me.’ I would drop him nice notes occasionally so I would stay on  his mind. But I’d never call. I didn’t have anyone lobby for me. A couple of  years later, he came back and asked me. The lesson: Be realistic, show some  humility, let them come to the conclusion on their own. It’s a major turnoff  when someone shows up and tells you how great they are.”

TIP #3: SUCCESSFUL FRIENDS ARE OFTEN MORE VALUABLE  THAN MENTORS. “[Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg is one of my closest  friends. Though we met only in the last few years, we clicked instantly. I  remember calling Sheryl after a really bad meeting where the guy treated me  horrifically. I just needed someone to vent to, someone I could get a little  teary with. It’s very rare in these sorts of busy, crazy lives we lead to have  someone like that, but you need them. We are very honest with each other, and we  root for each other. I’ve had unbelievable male mentors, but my relationships  with women have been game changers. There’s no agenda except our  well-being.”

Read more: How to Move Up in Your Career – Advice from Female Executives – Marie Claire

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