Executive Powers

You want to make that executive leap, you’re chomping at the bit. What do you need to get there? The 20-20 hindsight of these three power women, who
seized the reins at the right moment.

Jane Prokop

Chief Operating Officer, Principis Capital


“When I left my job at a big overseas investment firm to
work at a growing technology startup, I knew I had to take risks and face challenges.” Some of her biggest:

Learning new skills: “I really wanted to do business
development. So I went out to organizations, pitched, and proved I could put a
large corporate deal together—even though I’d never done that before.”


Taking credit where credit is due. “Women
often get the message to be modest. Don’t have any qualms about saying ‘I took on
this project, it’s going fantastic, and I expect a promotion and
raise for what I achieved.’ People will respect you for


Mary Bobel

Executive Director, Department of Radiology at University of Chicago


Find a mentor. “Get the guidance of smart people above you,” says Bobel. “I had a mentor
many years ago who suggested I switch from director of strategic planning to
director of accounting. Managing people when
you’re not the domain expert is a real challenge, and sometimes, I wondered if
my mentor had been right. But I eventually left that company for a job as VP and
corporate controller at Adobe—and from there I was able to land a position as
CFO, in part because I’d made that switch to accounting years before. I had
the nitty-gritty operational experience they wanted on top of my management

AnnaMaria DeSalva

VP of Medical and R&D Communications, Pfizer


“I always had aspirations to reach an executive level, but I
didn’t have a specific plan for how to accomplish it. I was doing mid-level
corporate affairs at a major pharmaceutical company in Europe. I was really
happy and satisfied with what I was doing, so when another firm asked me to run
their North American healthcare practice I said no.

Be willing to take an unexpected turn. “Sometimes, you have to recognize the path that’s emerging in front of you, even when it’s not what you’ve planned. I eventually
took the job, and that experience
launched me into several worldwide director roles in healthcare, and now a VP
position at Pfizer.”

Don’t be afraid of your ambition. 

You may not always feel clear, but don’t
be afraid of what you ultimately want. In my case, moving in a new direction wasn’t an
obvious choice, but it ended up being key to getting me where I wanted to go.”

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