'Women Who Lead' Series Concludes With a Power Message for Career Advancement

By: Christine Condon

The final episode in the "Women Who Lead" video series, which was created in partnership by the 92Y Women in Power Fellowship Program and Ellevate Network, ends with a message every woman needs to hear: "Lead your change. Lead yourself."

Susan Avarde, former head of Global Branding, Citigroup Inc. & CitiWoman, illuminates how to best set your career on a trajectory for success -- as well as how to best avoid career stagnation. Susan brings up an interesting point you don't often hear: women get a lot of advice.

"If you look at women vs. men, we get too much advice," says Susan. "It's great but we get under-sponsored." She makes the distinction between being simply mentored and having someone advocate to take your career to the next level. In other words, it would be ideal to get through the mentoring phase and move on to have an active sponsor.

"Mentoring is great when you're younger," Susan adds. "All advice is welcome. But there is a certain point when you really need somebody to actively leverage their political capital and... pave the way for you."

The real key to advancement is to be constantly learning and growing -- and taking risks to do so.

"The best advice I was given was, 'Don't be too patient.' Sometimes you do need to move from one company to another company to ensure your learning curve is moving along at a pace that you need it to do," says Susan. "I think the next generations of women coming up are going to find that the pace of change is even quicker and therefore staying within one company in the early parts of your career, I think, can just slow you down."

The danger of staying with one company for too long is that people may not be really seeing you -- seeing your talents for what they are worth or seeing your potential. Susan fears it would probably take too long to change their perception to stay on indefinitely.

"Go for the learning opportunity," she says. "Move. Don't be afraid to move to do that. Move across the country; move within the city. Then you've got a pretty deep reservoir of learnings in your mid-to-later career to draw from."

Finally, take ownership of your destiny and your career path. Susan says, "Lead your change. Lead yourself. Don't wait for others to find that opportunity for you."