The journey to the C-Suite can take many twists and turns. Join us on July 12th to hear from Mona Stone, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, as she shares her insight on skills needed to get to the top spot, responsibilities of C-level leaders, and ways more women can reach the C-Suite.

How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now? 

I was very deliberate in formulating short-term and long-term career goals, and I actively sought and volunteered for stretch assignments in a variety of industries and areas of the law. That diversity of work experience served as a solid foundation for not only becoming General Counsel from a legal perspective but understanding and prioritizing the needs of my team and the business.

What resources do professional women need most?

Women need the support of mentors and sponsors, as well as opportunities to learn critical business skills.

How can organizations best prepare and support them for career advancement? 

Organizations need to allocate appropriate resources to ensure that women feel empowered and confident in their positions. Companies can consider setting measurable hiring and promotion goals, offering flexible work environments, examining compensation discrepancies between men and women, and supporting strengths-based professional development and networking opportunities. Companies also should focus on succession planning and be explicit about where to advance women and help them build leadership skills to manage and drive the business.

What are the most significant challenges you have personally experienced in your leadership role, and how did you work through them? 

My training was in law, where I learned to be conservative in my thinking to mitigate risk.  When I became General Counsel, I had to readjust that mindset and realize that my business moves extremely fast, which does not always allow for full evaluation of risks and threats before making a well-informed decision. To avoid being seen as the “department of no,” I quickly learned to increase my risk tolerance and take appropriate risks aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

What strategies can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations? 

Women need to meet and exceed all expectations of their current role, self-promote and advocate for new opportunities, and always keep learning and building new skillsets.  Women also should ask for executive presence coaching and training to build their personal brand.

Mentorship is a critical factor in both personal and professional growth. How do you suggest finding a mentor at work?  

Women should be clear on where they need help and identify mentors (male or female) who possess the professional skills, personal traits, and values to teach and guide the areas of growth. Mentees need to take the initiative in the mentorship relationship and should explain why they want a mentor, how they selected the mentor, and why the chosen mentor can help them. It is important to ask for developmental feedback and act on it.  Be clear on the time commitment and be open to choosing mentors with perspectives different from your own – you will be surprised what you can learn!

Do you have any recommendations on books, websites, podcasts, community groups, etc., focused on career growth and development? 

It is a bit dated, but the book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers by Lois Frankel, PhD offers excellent coaching tips on how to eliminate mistakes that could unknowingly hold women back in their careers.  As a selfish plug, Future Performance: Your Guide to a Successful Career in Law by Mona Stone teaches young attorneys how to excel and maximize opportunities.

Register today for the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s Professional Women’s Alliance Lunch on July 12th.

Posted by Annelise Patterson