Advice from Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley
On October 21, 2019 the National Security Action hosted a group of diverse young professionals to a dinner with Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, U.S. Ambassador to Malta. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012 and served until 2016. It was such an honor to get to know Ambassador Gina’s story and learn from the knowledge she shared with the group. Her genuine positive energy, transparency, fearlessness, and resilience was contagious and inspirational, thus, leading to writing this article. Throughout the evening Ambassador Gina shared her story, which to say the least, was not easy, but it was her own. She shared a multitude of gems that will “empower you to become the leader you want to be.” Here are a few of her key points:
Be your own self-advocate. You’re in charge of your journey. Don’t let anyone else define your story for you. There are three type of people that you need in your corner to promote you and help you fulfill your passions, which include a:
Mentor. This person will help you navigate your career. This is the person you can share your challenges and get advice on how to overcome.
Advisor. This person knows your office and/or organization. They will know how the system works. You can learn from them and make the system your own.
Sponsor. This person can “make it rain” for you. They are the person that helps you get the job or project you wanted and puts you in front of the right people to make things happen.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. “Women you know just as much as the guys”, Ambassador Gina. Make sure you are not just there, include yourself in the conversation. Leaders and allies also play a role. If you are in the room and see someone is not speaking up, call them by name and amplify a point that they made or ask them to share their viewpoint. Everyone’s voice is important and will help to diversify the conversation.
Know your system. It is important to know the system of how things work (i.e. at your organization, on your team, in your industry) as the system is the rule and key to success. Knowing your system means knowing who has power, who has final word, who has the budget, etc. Don’t make assumptions, know how things operate.
Keep your business private and short. Have discretion when sharing with others your experiences. No one wants to talk to the “bitter” person at work. Know your audience. Keeping a smile on your face and exerting positive energy goes a long way.
Don’t stay in an unhappy situation. Staying in an unhappy situation causes internal corrosion. In order to exert positive energy, you MJUST be whole inside.
Big thanks to Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley for sharing not only your knowledge, expertise, and wisdom; but for showing a group of young people the importance of staying true to yourself and to never give up! Thank you to Leo Cruz and National Security Action for sponsoring such an amazing event!