Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy McCord

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence. This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Mindy McCord, an undergrad in Mechanical Engineering at Montana State University. Mindy is also a race car driver.

Last fall, while Jo Miller was presenting at the WE14 conference, she met Mindy. When Jo returned from the trip she enthusiastically told me about their meeting and eagerly insisted that Mindy was an excellent candidate for the Emerging Series Spotlight and she was so right! Read all about Mindy’s exciting leadership “track”, here.

Mindy Mccord 2Favorite leadership quote: Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent. – Sophia Loren

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

One of the most valuable things a person who is looking to get into leadership, or is looking to propel their career forward, can do, is to take risks. I’m not talking about financial risks or doing something that might risk your reputation; no, I believe there are many little things people can do but are afraid to try. Next time you think you shouldn’t, try anyway, and see what the outcome brings.

My recent career risk is that I have been working on finding an internship in Mechanical Engineering, while I am only a sophomore.

Now, nearly anyone will tell you that getting an internship as a sophomore isn’t very common and getting an internship at a bigger well-known company is nearly unheard of! Nevertheless, I decided to take a risk and began pursuing many internship options.

During my search I heard many no’s and at one company was even told, “I’m sorry, we don’t hire sophomores,” before the recruiter even had a chance to talk to me (or even look at my resume).

Well because I didn’t take no for an answer and continued my search, my persistence paid off! I am pleased to report that I will begin an internship for General Motors this summer (and p.s. they were a company that initially told me no).

If you have been told no, you simply haven’t asked enough. Next time you want to try something, a leadership role, a new diet, or a speaking engagement, take a risk. You will never grow if you stay inside your comfort zone.

What is the next step you plan to take in your career to develop your leadership skills?

I have recently taken on a challenge that will greatly develop my leadership skills.

I am leading a team of 12 undergraduate engineers to complete a multi-disciplinary project for a competition put on by the Society of Women Engineers at their national conference.

This is the first time that our school is participating in the event; and as such, we haven’t a clue what we are doing. Although we are working together, the team looks to me for guidance and pointers on what to tackle next and general project questions.

This project has been a great undertaking and has taught me many new leadership skills. I am learning how to plan logistics for a 12 person team; such as being the go-to contact for the group and making logistic decisions.

The biggest leadership test has been managing team dynamics; being college students means we are all involved in other activities school or extra-curricular. It has become very evident that our team members while all volunteers, don’t always put in the same amount of work.

It has been quite a feat to make sure that everyone is aligned to their strengths and that everyone feels a sense of purpose. It will be interesting to see the end result as managing this aspect has been my biggest challenge.

You have a unique component to your leadership path that is quite adventurous; you are a race car driver! Has there ever been a moment when you used your leadership knowledge in racing, while leading your team at school?

Through my experiences of racing I have learned that it is vital to ensure every member of the team knows that they are important and valued!

Keeping positive team morale in spite of set-backs is an important leadership quality that I will continue to use as I move into leadership positions.


Mindy, you are a true leadership rockstar!

Here is Mindy’s LinkedIn profile, if you would like to connect directly.

To learn more about Mindy’s impressive race journey, click here.

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Ann Roushar

Ann joined Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. as Operations Manager in 2011. Her background is in events and program management, however, with the launch of Be Leaderly, Ann has discovered a new passion for the communications side of the business, including blogging, social media and graphic design. Ann’s vision for this blog is to make it a “must have” resource for women in business, a virtual space where women can feel comfortable about sharing their career wins, woes or worries. Follow @ann_roushar on Twitter.

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