‘Don’t Be Silent’ It’s ‘Okay to Say No,’ and ‘Put Yourself Out There’: 3 Women Share Leadership Tips

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Cindy, Heather, and Keri.

Cindy, Heather, and Keri. Photos courtesy of Philips North America.

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April 25, 2024 at 12:47AM UTC

Cindy, Heather, and Keri are all leaders in the Market to Order (M2O) division of Philips North America in Nashville, Tennessee — but their stories of how they differentiated themselves and got to where they are today are all unique. 

Cindy, who is an order desk manager, has been with the company for 10 months, coming from an 11-year career in telecommunications. “This role allows me to continue to grow as a leader and learn a different line of business,” she says. “Being able to work alongside great leaders and have the opportunity to develop myself as well as my team is amazing.”

As for how she differentiated herself to get to where she is today, Cindy tells us that she did so via her work ethic and determination. “Coming from immigrant parents, I grew up seeing them work hard and achieve their goals for them and us,” shares Cindy. “I have always had the drive and mindset to do the best job I can do and help others get the job done. I will never ask my team to do something I wouldn’t do right alongside them.”

Meanwhile, Cindy’s coworker, Heather, a proposal management leader, has focused on proactiveness to differentiate herself. “I am always anticipating what needs to be done and working proactively to achieve it, rather than identifying a problem and then handing it to my boss to handle,” shares Heather. “Even if I need further direction or support, every leader I’ve worked for has respected that I took the initiative to start.”

Heather was proactive when she joined Philips in 2018, making a leap to a new company after over a decade in sales operations and proposal management for healthcare tech companies.

“Proposal management is a tricky career; it’s a blend of project management, marketing, sales, compliance, finance, and graphic design, and it requires a team of highly organized proposal managers, and a healthy team culture, to succeed,” Heather explains. “My role lets me wear several hats and work with all aspects of the organization while I lead my team to success.”

Finally, Keri serves as the sales operations lead for Philips’ North America Global Business Services hub. She’s been there for four years and has grown from team lead to manager to her current position. “This role has allowed me to learn many facets of Philips’ businesses as well as help people develop and grow in their career,” she tells Fairygodboss.

Before coming to Philips, Keri was the marketing director for an architecture and engineering firm. Keri has been able to continuously grow her career by focusing on being attentive to her manager's needs, and doing tasks that make her boss’s life easy, so they can focus on pressing tasks. “Learn a lot and make yourself indispensable,” says Keri. “Also, when going above and beyond, I never wait for someone to tell me what to do. I find things and work with my team and my manager to get them done.”

Here, we caught up with all three leaders to learn more about what they love about working for Philips, as well as what their leadership advice is for other women in the workplace.

To start, what do you hope to bring to your role?

Cindy: Growth and development for me and my team. I want to develop my team members to be able to succeed, promote from within, and continue to build partnerships along the way.

Heather: Beyond helping Philips achieve its goal of helping 2.5 billion people by 2030, I want to continue to foster growth and success for my team. I work with a group of incredible people who could easily achieve world domination if they wanted to. If I can make their days better, their work more impactful, and their dream careers achievable, I’ve succeeded.

Keri: Growth for myself and my team. Creativity, problem solving, a vast array of experience and knowledge, and the humility to know that I can learn from those around me every day. 

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations like you have?

Cindy: Don’t be silent. Share your thoughts and ideas. Make your presence known, even if it’s not what they are looking for, the fact that you speak up and participate goes a long way.

Heather: I think it’s important to be a little selfish in the projects that you take on. I used to be the person who volunteered for all projects, planned all the parties, etc. Unfortunately, those projects rarely resulted in advanced career opportunities. And I know that I’m not alone in that. Take time to evaluate if you’re raising your hand for a project that will benefit your work and/or your career. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s okay to say no.

Keri: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Women often think they can’t do things, so they don’t try. It’s okay to fail at something as long as you learn from it. As you learn from those mistakes, you become the go-to person for your organization, which opens up more opportunities for you. Don’t just be the “ideal person.” Be the person who executes the idea or spearheads the team getting things done.

What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for job seekers who are pursuing new opportunities?

Cindy: Take the risk! That is how I got here. It was a difficult decision to leave an industry that I was in for 11 years! And ask questions! There is never a dumb question; that is how you learn. 

Heather: I used to be so afraid of rejection that I would eliminate myself from contention before I even applied. Someone finally told me: “the worst thing they can do is say no,” and I’ve taken that to heart. Apply for jobs that you may think you’re not qualified for. Ask for the promotion. Ask questions some might think are dumb. If the worst thing they can do is say, “no,” it’s really not that bad.

Keri: My number one piece of advice for job seekers pursuing new opportunities is to ask lots of questions. Be curious, watch, and listen.

Finally, what is your favorite perk about working at Philips?

Cindy: The true work-life balance aspect is amazing. Coming from a position of always being “on” or “available” to actually leaving work is something that I didn’t realize I needed until now. Another great perk is definitely the leaders who I am surrounded by. My direct leader is amazing and being surrounded by women leaders is a nice change.

Heather: Philips has fantastic benefits for its employees, and I’ve chosen to work in healthcare for a reason — I’ve seen our equipment in hospitals when I’m visiting relatives. I’ve seen my friends’ babies in the NICU wearing Philips fetal care equipment. By working for a healthcare company like Philips, I know that my work is making a direct and significant impact on peoples’ lives.

Keri: Philips offers excellent benefits. There are also so many new things to learn every day. There’s never a shortage of things to do, which keeps me busy!


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