Six ways to be your own champion at work
Three Boston Scientific executives share perspectives on career advancement
June 17, 2021
Building equitable pathways to leadership requires a culture of inclusion as well as policies and programs that provide growth opportunities for every employee. But it also relies on those employees’ ability to self-advocate and communicate expectations, ambitions and challenges, and to take charge of their own career success.
Recently three members of the Boston Scientific executive committee shared how they learned to advocate for themselves and seize opportunities to advance their career. Here are the highlights:
Push Past Your Comfort Zone
Growing into new roles, taking on challenging assignments and navigating change often require pushing beyond our comfort zones. Recognizing these feelings of discomfort—and embracing them—is an opportunity to grow confidence and develop both personally and professionally.
“Earlier in my career, I knew I would be the only woman in my first upper-management meeting, but I underestimated how uncomfortable it would be,” recalls Jodi Eddy, senior vice president and chief information and digital officer. “Everyone seemed to have so much in common and they shared a lot of the same ideas. Initially, I focused on fitting in with the men, but I realized that my energy would be better spent sharing ideas that I deeply believed in. Over time, I became more comfortable and was able to build professional relationships that have served me well throughout my career.”
Speak Up and Be Heard
Wendy Carruthers, senior vice president of Human Resources, also hesitated as the only woman in many senior leadership meetings. “I quickly learned to get over concerns about how I’d be perceived,” she says, “because it was frustrating to not say something, then hear someone else get a positive response for saying essentially the same thing I was thinking.”
Wendy’s advice once you do speak up: If someone else repeats what you’ve already said, acknowledge it by saying, “Thanks for picking up on the point I made earlier.” She also recommends asking colleagues who are not in the minority, to be allies in meetings by acknowledging contributions from women or other diverse meeting participants.
Challenge Your Inner Critic
Most professionals are well-acquainted with their inner critic—the internal voice of self-doubt and insecurity whispering that you don’t belong. According to Meghan Scanlon, senior vice president and president of Urology and Pelvic Health, that voice takes the form of a little devil on her shoulder.
“Insecurity doesn’t magically disappear when you reach a certain level but acknowledging its existence can help you manage the self-doubt,” Meghan shares. “I’ve gotten much better at parking that little devil where it belongs. It doesn’t go away but I’ve learned to recognize it and tell it to stand down so I can do my job.”
Own What Makes You Different
It’s often easier to try to fit in rather than stand out. But, as Meghan points out, it can serve you well to embrace and share what sets you apart.
“In the early days of my career, I was one of a few women in a sea of men. At that time, I felt like I would be singling myself out by getting overly involved in a women’s network,” Meghan says. “But since joining, I have felt a natural solidarity emerge among many of the Boston Scientific Employee Resource Groups—and I love that. I get a lot of power and energy from that otherness now instead of hiding from it, like I did in the early stages of my career.”
Focus on Making a Difference
Even the most successful people struggle sometimes. Staying focused on a shared sense of purpose can help make the difficult days manageable. “During the volatile times we are living in, it’s important to be honest and share our stories while staying true to our mission of transforming lives,” Wendy says. “Focusing on making a difference can shift our thinking while also building resilience.”
Jodi adds that this sense of purpose is essential when times are challenging. “It can be hard to stay positive during tough times,” she says, noting the difficulties of working through the COVID-19 pandemic. “But our focus on helping improve the lives of our patients is our secret weapon. Remembering that and digging deep when times get tough can really help.”
Chart Your Own Path
Not everyone takes the same path to career growth and that’s okay. “There’s more than one way to grow and advance and it isn’t always linear,” Jodi says. “High performance is essentially about doing better for yourself and sometimes that corporate ladder can take the form of a spiral staircase.”
Jodi was among those who took a less-linear path early in her career, exploring and trying new things by working in “almost every possible role in IT” through several lateral moves. The benefit of seizing opportunities that may not be considered the traditional next step, are new skills, knowledge and experience, which add considerable value over the course of a career.
At Boston Scientific, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our hiring, promotion and development practices, but we also want to provide a culture where employees feel empowered to advocate for themselves and chart their own course. This is how we promote diversity, equity and inclusion and ultimately advance science for life.