Burton Girls

13 Career Tips from Burton's CEO, Donna Carpenter

by Donna Carpenter

Spring is exciting for a lot of reasons. Whether or not you’re about to graduate at the end of May or you’ve been in the workforce for a decade or more, career development is a worthy topic of conversation. There’s no tried-and-true guide for navigating your career path: it can be messy and unpredictable, but there’s so much space for growth and learning along the way.

At Burton, we have the Women’s Professional Association (WPA) which aims to support women on their paths to leadership and connect them to their peers and mentors, and the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) that focuses on making Burton the employer of choice for women. We spend a lot of time thinking about our goals are and how we can achieve them.

2014 Women's Leadership Day in Vermont. Every other year, the WLI brings together Burton women to work on goal setting, discuss development, and hear from inspiring female leaders in similar industries.

In the time I've spent working on building my own career and helping others forge their own paths to development, I've learned a few things worth sharing. Here are my 13 best pieces of advice on building a successful, fulfilling career: 

1. There is no perfect “career plan.” It’s all about seeing and seizing opportunities.

2. Failure is fundamental. As painful as it is, true growth only happens when we learn from our mistakes.

Some of the most inspiring women I know, Kimmy Fasani and Kelly Clark, talking women's snowboard product and how to progress our sport.

3. Bring your whole, authentic self to work. Know what’s important to you, what your values are, and make sure your company shares those values.

4. Align your goals with your company’s goals. Know your company’s vision and strategy and ask yourself everyday how you can contribute.

Chloe Kim with one of her mentors, Kelly Clark.

5. Know the numbers. No matter your role, understand how the decisions you make or the ideas that you put forward affect the bottom line. 

6. Create your own, personal Board of Directors. We all need mentors, people who can give us a fresh perspective or coach us through a challenge.

7. Be a lifelong, agile learner. Most successful people are not uniquely talented; instead, they progress by being open to new ways of thinking and to continuously learning new skills.

8. Lean In. Raise your hand, take stretch assignments, take on something outside of your comfort zone.

9. Solicit honest feedback. We all have blind spots and areas where we can improve. Drop defensiveness and ask those around you, “how can I do better?”

10. Define what work/life balance means to you. “Doing It All” is a myth and a trap. There will be trade-offs, so do your best to prioritize what’s important to you and let go of the rest.

11. Don’t underestimate yourself. There’s strong social research that women often judge their performance as worse than it actually is (while men judge their own performance as better than it is).  Believe in your own abilities.

Live the life you love and surround yourself with inspiring people.

12. Take care of yourself. You cannot be effective or continue to evolve if you don’t take care of yourself holistically: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.  

13. Choose your partner well!  You need a true partner and cheerleader, like I’ve always had in Jake. ∆