Where would I be today professionally if not for the people along the way who nudged, some more firmly than others, and advised along my career pathway? There was my first boss who was a gifted speaker, and stressed and demonstrated the importance of clarity, confidence and passion for professional success. (He also told me to keep track of what I wore to conferences, so that if I only saw a group once a year I didn’t repeat the outfit and leave the impression that I owned only one suit!) There was my group of women friends who included a master at negotiating salary. When you shared a proposed salary with her, she would invariably say, “It’s not enough” and explain why you were selling yourself short. These are just a sampling of my own mentors and guides in achieving greater success in my career.
I know I’m not alone in benefiting from a network of professionals who challenged and supported me. These examples demonstrate how critical it is to have guidance while developing your career. Whether it’s formal leadership training, coaching or just assembling a group of advisors you can call on - each one adds value and makes a difference.
Studies have shown these kinds of resources are even more important to diverse professionals, who may not have had an opportunity to develop and take advantage of such a network of resources and supporters. Climbing the ladder is hard enough without champions and challengers to support you. That’s why I’m so excited about the Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways Program, which will combine these elements and more to help develop a diverse field of high potential individuals in the field of philanthropy. Pathways will not only benefit the individuals selected for the intensive one-year program to cultivate diversity in philanthropic leadership, the entire field will be all the better for this terrific new program.
Ophelia Basgal, Vice President, Civic Partnership and Community Initiatives, Pacific Gas & Electric Company