‘Support Each Other and Celebrate the Successes of Others:’ Advice for Uplifting Other Women at Work

Sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America

Emma Jacobson. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA).

Emma Jacobson. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA).

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April 19, 2024 at 3:37PM UTC

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that door of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” — Michelle Obama

For Emma Jacobson, Technical Compliance Counsel at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA), this quote emphasizes how it’s not enough to just be successful — you need to make time to help others, too. 

“It is important to use your leadership position to advocate for underrepresented groups, including women,” shares Jacobson. This includes actions like “promoting policies that will support them, being an ally even when they are not in the room, and educating ourselves about subconscious biases and double standards,” she explains. “If we do this, we will continue to solidify and establish a path for everyone — ourselves, our current colleagues, and the following generations.”

As for how Jacobson acts on her desire to uplift other women, she shares that it starts by leading by example and being honest about the challenges she has faced. “Being vulnerable about my own career path can help younger women understand that there are ups and downs in careers, have more realistic expectations for themselves, and help provide the confidence to carry on despite challenges they may be afraid of or facing,” Jacobson explains. “I also take the opportunity to offer accolades to promote other women to internal leadership positions whenever possible and appropriate.”

This is only the beginning of Jacobson’s great advice on uplifting other women! Read on to learn more about her job, the role of other women in her career journey, her best advice for lifting up others, and how she knows when she’s made a difference.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role and what’s your day-to-day like? 

I am on a legal team that supports the business in a variety of ways. My primary role is to assess risks relating to new products and autonomous technologies as well as to develop strategies to mitigate the same. I work side-by-side with an engineer to understand the product(s) and interface with engineering teams and subject specialists daily. It is truly a privilege to work so closely with the business.

Could you share a few more details about your career journey?

Prior to joining MBRDNA, I was a litigator for 15 years. For ten of those years, I served as outside counsel for MBUSA and Mercedes-Benz AG (formerly Daimler) defending the companies in products liability matters. While on maternity leave with my third child, in-house counsel (that I had become good friends with over the years) called me and told me about this opportunity at MBRDNA. She thought my background was well suited for the position and that I would get along well with my now supervisor, Adriane Belton. With her encouragement, I applied for the position and was ultimately hired. 

Despite always working in a male-dominated field and subject matter (products), I have been fortunate to have a handful of strong female mentors and peers who have lifted me up (e.g., by sponsoring me, referring work to me, and giving advice). 

What’s your best advice on how other women can help advance the careers of those around them?

Be a sponsor (not just a mentor) and look for opportunities to advance others on a micro and macro level. For example, on a micro level, make yourself available to younger women to discuss challenges or provide constructive criticism as well as promote your mentee(s) to other leaders within the company. On a macro level, support policies that will help and advance women in general, such as maternity leave, subsidized elderly care benefits, and DEI programs.

What are your best tips for supporting others while advancing her own career?

Support each other and celebrate the successes of others. I am very fortunate to work on a team with three brilliant female attorneys. I never hesitate to ask for help or advice, and, likewise, each of them have come to me for support, too. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. And, since we have a supervisor that promotes that approach, it is truly embraced and makes us an incredibly efficient and effective team!

How do you know when you’ve made a difference?

When someone sincerely tells you thank you for taking the time to talk to them, comes to you again for more advice, or says you made them believe they could do something that they did not think they could.

I tell my daughter the same thing my mom told me — “don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot achieve, you decide what you want to do and then go for it!”

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