Advice

12 Powerful Philly Women Share Their Best Career Advice

The business leaders offer their time-tested wisdom on asking for feedback, taking risks and being open.


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We’re all about women empowerment here at BizPhilly, but we know that the race to the top can be stressful, exhausting and, at times, fruitless. So to galvanize your spirit, and in honor of Women’s History Month, we reached out to leading Philadelphia women for some wisdom. Specifically, we asked them for their best piece of career advice for women working their way up. Here’s what they said.

Susan Story, president and CEO, American Water Works

Be bold

“Don’t let your own doubts or insecurities hold you back from going for the stars. I learned a long time ago that if you ask for something, the worst they can do is say no. Go for what you want (and probably think you aren’t ready for!), bring others along with you and see each day as a gift.”

Angela Nadeau, president and CEO, Compudata

Be brave

“Many women professionals tend to be more timid in taking a risk than their male counterparts, and while it’s certainly wise to consider all the options, when you second-guess yourself for the umpteenth time the opportunity may have passed. Trust yourself.”

Ilyse Shapiro, founder, Let’s be Direct LLC

Success has multiple paths
“Don’t worry that every decision has irrevocable consequences and that there is only one path to success. The truth is that there are many paths, and what looks like a setback today may turn out to be a blessing in the future.”

Sharon Imperiale, president, CCI Consulting

Be your best you
“Being authentic, open and honest creates trust, naturally resonates with others, and creates potential. Stay open to the possibilities that present themselves along the career journey and be ready to seize the right opportunity.”

Angela Duckworth, founder and CEO, Character Lab

Ask for feedback
“Make it a habit to ask others: “What’s one thing I can do better?” And then listen, really listen.”

Mikal C. Harden, co-founder, Juno Search Partners

Work together
“There are enough hours in the day and you can have it all, with a little help. Partner up with other strong women, professionally and personally. Stop competing and find ways to lift each other up.”

Vicki Sack, co-founder, Juno Search Partners

Have a strong network
“Women often feel like they have to do it all themselves. Use your network and ask for help, advice and guidance from others when you need it. It goes both ways, because that same network will lean on you for your experience and guidance as well.”

Elaine Damm, CEO, ACCU Staffing Services

Build a strong team
“If you are in a leadership role, learn how to evaluate talent and surround yourself with a strong supporting cast. Don’t feel intimidated by bringing in highly skilled, qualified professionals – they will only help you to improve your career goals and help your business succeed.”

Janice Leone, president, Corporate Interiors

Step out of your lane
“The mindset required for women to achieve exceptional careers beyond the typical path, especially in today’s business climate, must include thinking outside of the typical framework. I believe women who pursue unique startups will become the prominent women of our future.”

Angela McCaffery, COO, Bittenbender Construction, LP

Stay open
“Don’t get hung up on corporate ladder climbing or societal pressures. Try to reduce rigidness and stay open to new opportunities, because you may end up your most fulfilled self in the least expected professional role. Above all, give yourself permission to slow down and be imperfect.”

Patricia Claybrook, president and CEO, Jidan Cleaning LLC

Take advantage of networking
“Learn from more experienced women professionals, and be mentored and coached by them. Never forget that resources are in your relationships.”

Jennifer Dempsey Fox, president of wealth management, Bryn Mawr Trust

Find your core value
“Live your core values and surround yourself with people who support them. My core value, for example, is authenticity. I have found that I am most successful not only when I am being authentic, but also when I’m working with authentic people.”