Julie Seitz

What were the key milestones in your career?

After my first job as Systems Engineer at IBM, I pushed myself to become a commission sales rep shortly there after, to prove to myself that I could take more risk. Another big milestone a few years later in Coca-Cola, was taking on a general manager role of the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games Olympic Torch Relay.  It was a great challenge to pull off this event, but doing it 90 days after September 11 tragedy, was another test.  I managed about 100 young people on the road and part of my job over and above the Torch Relay, was to return these 100 people home to their families safe and sound. This milestone helped me know there was nothing I couldn’t attempt and be successful at it.

 What do you think are the key leadership skills needed to lead complex projects?

I’ve found the core skills that have served me well in other roles, work here too. The most important ones for me are knowing when to take a decision and being confident in taking them, building long-term relationships, great follow-up, treat all people with respect Also, hiring to ensure you have the very best person, give your people room they need to do their job and be great, know when to step in and coach, and giving good feedback all of the time.

Find what makes you want to jump out of the bed each morning excited for a new day and make that your “North Star”.

 What role has mentors played in your career?

Many of my former managers have been my best mentors, because they know me better than others – they know the good and the not so good in me! In fact, when I made the jump to workplace, I called five former managers to get their opinion.  I received 5 out of 5 “Yes, that sounds perfect for you”.

 Any advise you would give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to take risks sooner.  Move to multiple cities to try them out, do at least a semester, if not an entire year abroad in college. Find what makes you want to jump out of the bed each morning excited for a new day and make that your “North Star”.  When I’m evaluating a new role, if it doesn’t match what makes up my North Star, even a big promotion or salary increase won’t entice me. Also, I never go after a job just because it comes with a fancy title; I’ve learned that titles don’t predict fit or happiness. If you don’t love your job at any point, find a new one!

What “lean in” advice would you give to young women professionals?

The most important thing I’ve learned in many years of working is that in each role, as different as they appeared, the essential skills needed were identical; only the problem at hand that changed. Every job involves challenges, problem solving, relationship building, etc.  Women tend to get caught up worrying about whether they can do a job in a different functional area or with a different title.  Use your optimism and determination and go for it – you’ll find it’s not as hard as you think it is. My book recommendation on this topic, which I give to young women often, is “Break Your Own Rules” by Flynn/Heath/Holt.

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