Category: Associate Development and Engagement, Conferences and Events

This is What I Want


Sometimes I have the best conversations with myself. I’ve coached myself through challenges, solved problems, figured out next steps. Even shared a few laughs. Studies have shown that talking to yourself can boost brainpower, increase concentration, and benefit overall thinking. 

But when we assume our actions and behaviors speak for themselves, we do ourselves an injustice. Have you been in a situation with friends or family and were surprised that they didn’t realize what you wanted? “I’m not a mind reader,” is the proverbial comment back. Yet it was so obvious to you.

When this scenario plays out at work, the repercussions can impact your career.

Declare what you want is Alison Quirk’s advice. As executive vice president at State Street Corporation and chief human resources and citizenship officer, Quirk knows a few things about engagement and communication. And she speaks from personal experience.

One time Quirk was interested in a position. Her performance and experience positioned her for the job, and she talked to herself about the opportunity. But her boss never knew her intent because she never said anything to him until it was too late. For Quirk, it was a defining moment in her career.

Quirk along with Linda Connly, senior vice president, Global Inside Sales, EMC Corporation; and Marcy Reed, Massachusetts president, National Grid, recently spoke on the topics of leadership and career as part of an executive leadership panel sponsored by the Boston Chamber of Commerce.    

Like Quirk, Connly and Reed also had defining moments in their careers. For Connly, it was the realization that it’s ok to “pause your career” as long as you’re finding and gaining value during this period. A meaningful pause can often catapult you to the next phase of your career.

For Reed, it involved taking a position outside of her “comfort zone,” causing her to challenge her appetite for risk taking. It also highlighted the power of relationships for Reed.

When it comes to leadership, the panelists all agreed that showing a level of vulnerability is extremely important as a leader. It shows genuineness and creates an emotional connection, helping foster engagement with your team. It’s also a sign of strength. Other insights from the session included:  

Understand your natural talents: Know them, cultivate them. They’re part of your personal brand. You’ll always want to leverage them regardless of the role you’re in.  

Confidence can be built. Work on it, don’t fake it. Confidence can be gained and practiced over time. You’ll become more authentic in the process.   

Have the courage to take risks. Put yourself out there. Whether it’s cultivating your career, working on a project, or growing the organization, taking risks are key to succeeding.  

One of the biggest takeaways was own your career. Whether you’re early in your career or a seasoned leader, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your career. 

I admit, I’ll still talk to myself. And that’s ok, as long as I’m also declaring what I want too.

Colleen Sebastian

Colleen Sebastian

Colleen has been with Boston Financial for 15 years, having held positions in client relations and operations. In her current position, she develops and executes marketing and communication strategies that accelerate business growth, build brand awareness, and strengthen employee engagement. Colleen holds a Masters of Business Administration from Northeastern University and is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. A snow sport enthusiast, Colleen has been a volunteer for the Youth Enrichment Services’ (YES) winter program and still gets excited every winter for the first snowflakes of the season. Follow Colleen on Twitter @colleen_sebas.

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