As part of our Learning from Leaders Q&A series, we met with five of our female leaders to learn what has shaped their careers and what advice they have for others looking to grow professionally. Here, Nicole Sitek, Director of Business Solutions for New York Life Investments, tells us how she built a career and a family she’s immensely proud of.
What career advice would you have given yourself as a young person? What advice would you give to young women today?
The advice I would give is to make connections wherever you can; talk to your colleagues and get to know them and what they do. Even across industries, building professional connections is essential in networking. I ask colleagues and friends in other industries tons of questions. I want to understand what they do, how they think, and learn from their best practices to see how I can apply those to what I am doing in my current role. Learning what others are doing in different roles, companies, and industries can give you a different perspective than what you may otherwise have. It’s also important to offer your knowledge in return.
I also suggest keeping an open mind. Raise your hand when you’re ready for the next opportunity and if something comes up that is of interest to you, don’t be afraid to take a chance on it. You don’t always know what’s going to be a great fit for you unless you try different things.
"Raise your hand when you are ready for your next opportunity–take a chance.” - Nicole Sitek
When considering companies to work for, what are important things to look for?
I think flexibility is very important. I'm married and have two children. My oldest has cerebral palsy and she can't do anything independently, so there’s a lot of caregiving needed for her. When she was born, she was three months early and spent 2 ½ months in the NICU. It was very rough the first few years of her life, and I definitely put my career in the backseat so I could care for her. As a career-driven woman, that was hard for me to do.
Thankfully, I was able to still be present at work while slowing the pace of my career by not taking on any additional responsibilities or roles. But once the more difficult times with my daughter were over and I was ready, I made the decision to reinvest in growing my career again. I was fortunate that working at New York Life allowed me to make these decisions and incorporate the flexibility I needed.
What drives you? And then how do you kick back when you need to relax?
I'm a doer, I've always been a doer. In school I signed up for every activity because I like to be involved. My parents didn't go to college, but they worked hard and created a good home. I think that's important and I learned from their work ethic. They drive me to be better.
Any time I get to relax, I spend time with my girlfriends. Nothing heals the soul better than laughing with friends.
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