3 women business leaders share their top strategies for moving up in your career

November 10, 2021

If you want a promotion, common wisdom will tell you to get a new job at a new company. Is this the right advice for everyone? 

Boston Consulting Group survey of more than 750 tech leaders found that two-thirds of respondents agreed moving up often requires moving on. Yet women were less likely to actually change employers, which BCG said could be due to a lack of mentors helping them make connections outside their current workplace.  

Amy LoPiccolo, VP of Leadership & Talent at B Capital Group, asked a group of women business leaders at B Capital portfolio companies what their best strategies were for moving into VP and C-suite roles. Here’s what some of them said.  

Think about what you really want 

“One of my biggest deficits in my career has been my loyalty,” said CyCognito Chief Growth & Strategy Officer and former Synack Chief Business & Growth Officer, Aisling MacRunnels. “I am extremely loyal and I’ve stayed in every company for too long.” 

Yet while MacRunnels thinks changing employers sooner would have accelerated her career, it wouldn’t have satisfied her other life goals.  

“I have a lot of things I was trying to play out in life. I had a lot of goals. And in order to drive all of them, sometimes I wanted the stability of being at the same company,” she said.  

She said women in business should think about what works for them. Drive for what you want in your career, slow down when you have to, and look at your own needs and desires — not just what you think you should do.  

Get uncomfortable 

Yalo VP of Sales Karla Berman said three years is the optimum amount of time to spend at a company or in a particular role because it’s enough time to learn without hampering your growth.  

“If you want to grow, I think that shaking up things a little bit, whether it’s in the same company or another company, is really important,” she said.  

And don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, trying roles and teams where you’ll get new experiences.  

“Whenever I’ve been most uncomfortable is when I’ve learned the most,” she said.  

Your success is an ongoing conversation 

Shannon Goggin, co-founder and CEO of Noyo, said advancing in your career doesn’t just happen through applying for new roles or promotions. It’s a continuous process. 

When Goggin told a former manager early on that she ultimately wanted to lead a company, he made a point of cycling her through teams and projects that would strengthen the different skills she would need to do that.  

“He said, ‘Okay great, let’s think about the skills you’ll need to do that and make sure the projects you work on here get you exposure to that,’” she recalled. “And he would just revisit it with me every few weeks.” 

MacRunnels echoed the benefits of finding ways to grow within your company.  

“It’s almost like you have a roadmap for yourself that you can develop with your manager,” she said.  

Ideally, you won’t have to tell your manager that you want a promotion, or have to wait for a performance review to know what they think of your work. Instead, you’ll be having “ongoing conversations about direction and vision.” 

Ultimately, she said, women leaders must pave their own paths — but together, with the support of others in similar positions.  

“We’re paving new ground. We have to have each other, and communicate and be authentic and real in those relationships,” she said. “I think most of our achievements are just looking to do everything really well. Look to get help from your environment, your ecosystem. Create your village, if you will — and get your information from there.” 


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