Reflecting on Ten Years, Four Promotions, and Seven Roles

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Exactly ten years ago, I was wrapping up my 2nd week in a new job at a new company. I was also 6 months pregnant.

As with every new role, I was a little nervous. But this time things felt different – the stakes felt especially high. I was working for one of the most admired companies around and they took a chance on me – even with my upcoming maternity leave.

Fast forward through three maternity leaves, four promotions, seven different roles, lots of SAPPHIREs, war rooms, special projects, I have never once regretted my path. It is possible to have an exciting and fulfilling career without leaving your company. I’m thrilled at how much I’ve learned and grown as an employee and as a person, which is a much better gift than the shiny new bike from the company award program (although that’s pretty nice too).

Here are six big things I’ve learned after ten years in:

1. Opportunities are yours to create, not gifts from a boss or your company

I’ve had some incredible experiences here – a fellowship to lead a large topic outside of my organization, participation in an intrapreneurship program where, as a finalist, we got to pitch our business idea in Berlin, just to name a few. The common thread among all of these “big” opportunities – they were things I worked for, asked for, or pursued. Same goes with career changes – you need to seek out, determine your next step, create your next role because it’s personal – you own your career, not your boss or your company. Don’t wait for opportunities to be handed to you – find them and make them!

2. Great leaders are like gold

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve spent about 70% of my ten years here working under the same leader. Great leaders make you want to follow and stay with them. They challenge you to be better, they empower you to do great things. Don’t take a great leader for granted – say thank you. And if you don’t have a great one, seek out a great mentor.

3. Your reputation precedes you

Solid and strong reputations are built on hard work, trust, and integrity. Not all stakeholders or leaders have the luxury of time to get to know you – sometimes all they have to go on is what they hear from others about you and your work. Treat every interaction like the most important meeting of your career. Always do the right thing and act with integrity.

4. Change never changes

The one constant you can count on is change. Change is around us all the time. It will happen today and tomorrow. There will be highs and lows. You can’t control it – but you can control your reaction to change. The ability to flex and even thrive in times of change is a huge asset and can really impact your success.

5. Do what you love

Life is way too short to spend time on projects that don’t interest you. Seek out opportunities and roles that match up with your passions. This will help you bring your best self to work.

6. Good people make all the difference

From inspiring leaders, to wicked smart colleagues, to kind teammates who have become friends and like family – people really do make all of the difference.

On to the next ten!

Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Read my blog.

Liz Brenner

Liz Brenner is currently Vice President of Marketing Employee Engagement at SAP. Liz has spent over 8 years in various marketing and operations roles at SAP. Prior to SAP, Liz spent over 10 years in consulting and operations roles at BearingPoint, Arthur Andersen, and in the energy industry. Liz’s blog, Lead With Intuition, is a compilation of inspiring lessons from top business leaders to empower you in your pursuit of success. Follow @LizBrenner on Twitter.

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