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How To Get To The C-Suite

Our Chief Recruiting Strategist, Krisi Rossi O’Donnell, shares how she went from Office Assistant to C-Suite Executive, and insights on growing your career:

How can you build valuable relationships with your supervisors and others in the organization to establish credibility?

Be a person of your word, and make sure that if you’re going to speak specifically you are correct.  It’s ok to not be sure of something; it’s ok to not have the 100% specific details if you circle back and follow up.  If you say you are going to do something, do it and follow up with any updates, etc.

If someone asks your opinion, give it.  Don’t be the person who says, “Everything is good…all the options are great.” Have a position and don’t be afraid to vocalize it. Be prepared to learn and see the errors of your ways, but have an opinion!  Sometimes it’s not about being right, it’s about the thought process to get there.

 How do you identify people that you can trust to provide guidance in your career growth?

I look for people who have proven career growth themselves, and ask them for advice on how they’ve achieved it.  I want to see what other people have done, and see how it can be applied to my situation. I look for people who execute, and make sure the quality of their work is worth mimicking instead of making that assumption.  It’s easy to go to people who are “like” you or who make you comfortable, and sometimes you need to stretch outside your comfort zone.

What are some lessons that you have learned as you’ve grown in your career?

Take risks… Things we think are earth shattering are not, be riskier – especially if your organization supports it.  Try new things, what’s the worst that’s going to happen?  I read something one time that said, “don’t be afraid to try… be afraid of in a year from now, being in the exact same spot you are today. “

You don’t have to be perfect – that’s what a team is for! People are supposed to have strengths that complement each other, which means some people are going to be stronger at some things than you are. It’s by design, and it’s what makes a team stronger. Thinking you are supposed to be perfect and the best at everything could wear you down, or make you resent your co-workers and isn’t sustainable.

How do you promote yourself beyond performance?

Dedicate the time and pay attention.  People work a lot and we spend a lot of our time with our co-workers. Listen to what they are saying; hear them when they are telling you something. The more you remember and relate to people, the better the relationships will be for you.

How were you able to take the next step in the organization?

I wasn’t afraid to ask.  I didn’t expect to get it immediately, but I did want to know what was required to get to the next level, and worked my hardest to get there.  I wanted and still want to improve, so every opportunity is used to get better, do it better and differently.  When you win and when you lose, there’s always something to learn.