My Journey to the C-Suite
Linda Greenfeld | Apr 02, 2019
Executive Director I Commercial Products
“Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing can substitute for the experience.” –Paulo Coelho
I started my career in sales and marketing, and then moved into product management as Health Net’s very first product manager. When the team evolved, I became an expert on their product lines and hence the go to person for other members of the team. The key for me was taking calculated risks to broaden my scope of responsibility, from managing an existing product line to doing actual product development work — creating something new from a blank sheet of paper.
With a sense of confidence that I would succeed, I took calculated risks and volunteered to take on new assignments. As time moved on, initiatives came to me as I was able to prove I was capable of delivering.
In looking back to the time when I joined L.A. Care, as thrilled as I was for the opportunity, my acceptance of the Executive Director role left me with a slight fear of failure. I had spent all my working career in the commercial health care space. Now, coming into L.A. Care, I was brought on board to what was referred to at the time the ‘specialty’ product line.
The infrastructure here was built around the Medi-Cal product, yet the expectation of my new role was to grow, sustain and improve the performance of the business — one tall order!
Needless to say, I was a bit nervous and anxious to accept what was probably one of the biggest challenges of my working career. I’ve spent the last 2 1/2 years building partnerships at all levels across the enterprise.
To me, every person, no matter what their role or title, brings value to the work they do and to the organization. I believe the successes my team and I have been able to achieve are attributable to the great partnerships and the support network we have developed across the organization.
“Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor.” –Lailah Akita
A leader’s greatest attribute is to inspire others to follow. I’ve had many great mentors, sponsors and leaders to help me along my journey to an executive leadership position.
I sought out mentors within each organization I joined, those that modeled behaviors, delivery and approaches that I admired. On the flip side, I also took note of what I did not want to become and behaviors I did not want to model. The key is to solicit ‘sponsors’ within the organization – those that trusted my judgement, acknowledged my accomplishments and applauded my efforts.
My advice to women who are interested in reaching an executive leadership position – find a good sponsor and mentor. Those aren’t necessarily the same people. And my greatest advice to women who are interested in reaching an executive leadership position: don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. It got me where I am today. Thanks for taking the time to share a few reflective moments with me.