This post is part of a series focused on bringing you insights from experienced and successful professionals about what they’ve learned and how they are adapting to the current business climate.
Cynthia Hardy Young
V Porfano: What characteristics, skills or abilities have you developed that help make you successful as a leader?
CY: I’ve developed organizational skills such as strategic agility, understanding of the marketplace and the competition, operational excellence, talent planning and employee development. I believe personal skills are equally important and provide balance. Listening to determine what are people really trying to say, analyzing, diagnosing, and problem solving, inspires leaders to lead and be well equipped to handle change.
V Porfano: Given that many corporations are now recovering from the economic meltdown, what leadership challenges are taking center stage today?
CY: Delivering greater insight into customer needs and buying behaviors, strong alignment between our business offering and our target market, and constant focus on innovation, improvement and operating efficiencies.
V Porfano: What experiences in your career best positioned or prepared you for a global leadership role?
CY: In terms of international experience, I was an exchange student in Japan, attended international law programs abroad, was part of industry delegation abroad to BRIC countries, and hired international companies to partner in providing business services as part of company operations. In terms of more general experience, the best preparation came from taking on roles in a variety of disciplines. This allowed me to work in various functional areas such as claims, product R&D, underwriting and pricing, and legal, and allowed me to handle various business challenges.
V Porfano: Did you take risks in your career? If so, what type of risks and how did they prepare you for the unexpected?
CY: The biggest risk was moving from a legal career to a business career with emphasis on general management. This prepared me for the unexpected by helping me understand how to learn from the experts around me, setting a steep slope for learning and performing at the same time, building on active feedback mechanisms, and taking a flexible approach to challenges and issues.
Articles in the Experiences And Insights Series
- Experiences And Insights From Sami Miettinen
- Experiences And Insights from Cynthia Young
- Experiences And Insights from Suri Surinder
- Experiences And Insights From Cedric Thurman
- Experiences And Insights From Clara Wong
- Experiences And Insights From Mariano Legaz
Updated 2/10/2013: Added photo of Cynthia Young