Sometimes when you begin your career, you receive great advice that serves you well. Other times, you might hear well-meaning suggestions that you must un-learn later or, adapt those comments to your own style.
Kathy Cunningham, who today is Senior Vice-President, Finance at Canadian-based Sun Life, remembers starting her career at a time of great opportunity. “I was raised to believe I could be anything I wanted. In university my classes were a 50-50 gender split, so we went into the workforce assuming we could achieve anything we wanted.”
That doesn’t mean there weren’t obstacles, especially early in her career. “When I looked up, I didn’t see women in senior roles yet – that was just starting – but it felt like there were opportunities.”
Though Kathy does recall some advice she received from a trusted advisor that she views differently looking back on it today. “Years ago when I was promoted, a senior leader congratulated me but told me ‘You’ll have to be quiet for the first few years.’ I understood what he meant – that outspoken, new leaders may not be appreciated by colleagues – but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have given that same counsel to a male.”