March 8 is International Women’s Day, a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In honor of the occasion, we asked women from across Conduent one question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received in the course of your career?
Below, Devisa Ransom, manager of analyst relations at Conduent, gives her answer – and explains the inspiration behind the advice that has made a difference.
The best career advice I ever received was simple – BE FEARLESS. Although it’s just two words, I find myself reflecting on them daily. I attended a business magnet high school, and I interned at a large insurance company my senior year. My boss was VP of Sales and Marketing. She was the first female VP in the company’s history. She was the very reason I chose a career in marketing.
The company had an employee contest to name a new conference room. It was state-of-the-art at the time, and the company made a big deal of it. My boss asked if I planned to participate, but at 17 and an intern, I felt this was way above my pay grade. I was afraid to compete with the more experienced sales agents and marketing staff.
My boss sensed my fear without me even acknowledging it, and she told me to BE FEARLESS. She said you will never accomplish anything in life operating in fear. She said you must walk in confidence and know that you are good enough, you are smart enough and you are talented enough. Well, needless to say, I won the contest… and a gold watch to boot. While my mentor has gone on to glory, I think of her to this day every time I come upon a challenge that causes me to pause.
I had another boss shortly after college who advised me to never stop learning, and you won’t be afraid to apply yourself. He used to quote the proverb, “He who knows not but knows not that he knows not is a fool.” He would say, you cannot fake it until you make it – someone in the crowd will know you don’t know what you’re talking about. You must know your stuff. He was CEO of a boutique advertising agency, so he often spoke in prose.
He told me this on the eve of making a big pitch to an airline client. I compiled the presentation on his behalf and the art department developed impressive visuals. It was full of consumer research and stats.
We thought we’d be presenting to the marketing department, but when we arrived, the CEO of the airline entered the meeting. He was an iconic, larger-than-life type. I assumed my boss would be making the pitch alone, but low and behold, shortly after his opening statement, he threw the pitch over to me to cover the market data. I wanted to dart out of the nearest exit.
It turns out the client bought into the concept, and we got the business. When we departed the meeting, my boss told me he knew I had studied the information enough that he felt confident allowing me to pitch on such a large account. He knew I was good at comprehending data and statistics which I didn’t really recognize at the time. Well, that same day, I received a promotion to lead account services at the agency.
Visit us on Twitter (@Conduent) and Facebook for other responses from Conduent leaders about the advice that has inspired them, and for an additional perspective on International Women’s Day, visit our Insights for Government Agencies blog to read a post from Patricia Elizondo, general manager of state and local government.