Throughout her career, Mellinda Devese has taken risks, learned when to walk (but never run) away, and discovered how to show up as her most authentic self. Most importantly, Devese has learned to recognize her value.
“Sometimes, when we emulate executives, we think we need to be very stoic and very professional and very sensible all of the time. And I’ve kind of abandoned that a little, for authenticity,” said Devese.
Recently, Devese spoke to a virtual group of Perficient team members as part of our Women in Technology (WiT) Career Growth series. As Vice President of Global Integrated Supply Chain at GE Healthcare, Devese captivated her audience by sharing personal stories and her unique perspective on challenges facing women and minority professionals today.
Here were key lessons and inspirational takeaways that Devese shared with the audience:
Face Your Fears and Take Action
“Don’t run away from problems, face them head on” Devese said. “If you choose to walk away from something because it’s not good for you, that’s different.”
She reflected on a time when she did just that. Things were going well in her career. She was driving results, got an exceptional review and her brand was established. A leadership role opened up. After discussing with her family, who would have to make sacrifices including relocation among other disruptions, the family supported Devese in going for the position. Despite her tenure with the company, performance, and leadership, the role went to a lesser qualified, white male candidate.
“I realized at that point in time, despite how hard I had worked, despite my achievements, I wasn’t going to get any further in that organization,” said Devese. “I did everything right but suffered humiliation. So I chose to leave.”
The move paid off. Today, Devese is in a role that is two levels above the position she sought with her former company. She is grateful for the lesson in humility. It taught her that fear can be a gift that forces action.
Engage Your Shadow to Build Your Brand
Sharing learnings from the Netflix documentary, Stutz, Devese shared the importance of facing negative inner voices to overcome anxiety and self-doubt.
“My shadow says the kind of things to me that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy,” said Devese. “I have learned that it’s important for me to metaphorically face my shadow. To engage my shadow, replace spiteful comments with logical alternatives so I can deal with my anxiety and self-esteem.”
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She also recommends writing two things down – to better define your own personal branding:
- What do you think people are saying behind your back while you’re not listening?
- What would you like people to say behind your back while you’re not listening?
When you identify those characteristics or traits that you want to be known for, you will reinforce those with every interaction. Devese also recommends keeping the written traits until they become a habit in how you show up.
“Reinforce your brand, because this is how you end up with people who will fight for you in a room you are not in.” -Mellinda Devese
Know Your Worth
We have all heard the expression, “fake it until you make it”. Devese wants women to abolish that notion. Women are not faking anything. They are nest builders, protectors, often balancing careers with being wives, mothers, caregivers and more.
While men often have a “put me in coach” attitude, women sit on the sidelines and overanalyze risks. Devese encourages women to get their game face on and go for it.
“A closed mouth does not get fed,” she shared. “If you are ready for the job or the next step that someone is offering you, then you are not thinking big enough.”
Step outside of your comfort zone. Remember there will be a learning curve. But know your worth.
Devese shared her approach to recognizing her own value when exploring a new role. It involves three highlighters:
- Green – for skills and/or competencies she has mastered
- Yellow – for emerging skills/competencies where there is still learning
- Red/Orange – where there is zero experience or skill alignment
Green areas will enable you to highlight your strengths. Yellow and red/orange will allow you to be upfront about gaps. They will also give you an opportunity to reinforce your learning agility. A key hallmark of a successful career is a willingness to never stop learning. That is where the magic happens.
Build Relationships Based on Trust
“The greatest support has come from developing high-trust, meaningful relationships with people,” Devese shared. “When somebody feels good about you, they’re willing to help you.”
Devese shared her support system today has included her family. But equally important are friends and those with whom she has cultivated high-trust relationships. She encouraged the audience to also examine how helpful each is being with others. And reminded that it is more than giving of time. It is also listening with respect and attention.
In closing, Devese shared her thoughts on the importance of women supporting women.
“Sometimes as women and minorities, we compete with each other because we think there’s only room for a few of us,” explained Devese. “We’ve got to send the elevator back down. We just need to uplift each other. There’s enough room for all of us.”
As Devese reminded her audience, women bring compassion, empathy, and fellowship. It is important to show up – as your most authentic self. And remember, always know your worth.
To learn more about Perficient’s Women in Technology, click here.