Finding My Leadership Voice: What I Wish I had Learned Earlier in My Career
Over the course of my 20-year career, finding my voice has been a bumpy road — it’s not something that came naturally to me. Earlier in my career, I operated under the assumption that my leadership voice was not valid until I had more years of experience, more people standing behind me, or a more senior-level management position. It was important to me that I wasn’t just a loud voice, but one that contributed in a meaningful way to whatever project I was working on. I see now that this belief limited my potential to grow professionally and limited my opportunities to share my ideas and demonstrate my ability to be a leader from any position.
While I cannot discount the role of “with age comes wisdom,” there have been a few significant inflection points in my journey to find my voice. Some of these have been working for some amazing managers who believed in my potential and provided me with opportunities to learn and grow.
As a female engineer, an important part of finding my own voice has also been through the support and empowerment I have found in other women. Finding this support and inspiration can be difficult. Events like NAEM's Women’s Leadership Roundtable have been integral to my success. I’m thrilled to be co-chairing this event, taking place in June, that is bringing together a group of environmental, health, safety and sustainability (EHS&S) women to help grow our network, strengthen our business acumen and other leadership qualities, and empower and inspire all of us to find our voice and do amazing things.
This journey was not always an easy one for me, but its mix of positive and negative experiences (thankfully more good than bad) has brought me to where I am today. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m grateful for those leaders who have given me those opportunities to find my voice and the women who have supported me directly or indirectly as leadership role models. I hope that I can continue to pay it forward to other women that are working to find their leadership voice.
NAEM's 2019 Women's Leadership Roundtable takes place in Savannah, Ga., from June 25-27, 2019.
About the Author
Fawn has a B.S. in environmental engineering from the University of Florida. She is a resident of Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors with her two children and husband.