Becoming a successful leader in business requires strength of mind, an indomitable spirit and the ability to guide others to high achievement.
Here are the stories of three women who took different career paths to business success, marshaling their talents, education and work ethic into business success. Their message? Following your dreams requires preparation.
For Sara Jones, 42, her path to career success began with her birth in Korea and adoption by a Utah family at age 2, raised by two parents with two sisters.
As a child growing up, she became known as an academic overachiever, graduating from Jordan High in 1992, receiving her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Utah and a law degree from Brigham Young University.
She said her motivation was an overwhelming desire “to not be poor,” she says with a chuckle.
“My parents were incredibly hard workers,” Jones said. “(They) had me working all the time — doing a job or filling out an application to college. They really taught me how to work for things.”
Because there were only girls, each daughter learned “all the jobs that boys would do.” Those experiences instilled a dogged work ethic that continues today, she said.
Jones said the decision to apply to law school was prompted by a speaker she heard in college talk “about his career as a patent attorney and how he made a lot of money.”
“I sort of just fell into it,” she said. Jones parlayed that desire into a successful career and a partnership at a local law firm, working primarily on software patents, she said. But after almost 10 years in the field, she wanted a change and decided to pursue other interests.
“I made the decision to switch careers and do something that I felt had a much higher potential to make a difference in the world,” Jones said. She is co-founder and vice president of operations of Women Tech Council — a Utah-based nonprofit trade association that provides mentoring, visibility and networking for women in technology fields.
Through her involvement with the council, she is able to use her talents to reach and help more people than she did as a lawyer, she said.
“I don’t believe I would have been able to visualize the other things I could do with my life without having a community like Women Tech Council,” she said. “It was there for me in the critical years that I needed to be inspired.”
“(Tech) is the one (industry) right now where (as a woman) you are really guaranteed a great job opportunity, but doesn’t mean you have to stay in that job forever,” she said. “It is a great start.”
One of Jones’ co-founders at Women Tech Council is Cydni Tetro, 42, a married mother of three and a tech entrepreneur who has consulted for companies such as Microsoft, Target and Disney. She currently serves as executive director of the tech council.
Born in Chicago but raised in Lindon as the oldest of eight children, her parents instilled the value of education early on to all their kids, she said.
Tetro holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science — with a dance minor — and an MBA from BYU.
“I was either the only girl in all-male classes or there were very few men in my dance classes,” she said. Tetro was one of just three women in her graduating class, she said.
After nearly 10 years, she said the original mission of the organization has not changed, and membership has always been free to anyone who wants to join.
“We (consider) everything by how we’re going to impact the economic growth (of our community) and what can we do to create visibility, mentoring and opportunities for women that will help grow the economy and create a great platform,” Tetro said.
She said that among the aims of the council is to help show young girls and young women considering a career in business or technology that the opportunities that exist for them if they are willing to pursue them.
“They should dream big. They can do anything that they want,” she said. “The biggest impact they can have on the world is to recognize the talents they have to be able to create and innovate.”
By Jasen Lee, Deseret News