Women leaders share the secrets of their success

Mentors are a key component of women's success in business

Strong professional networks and self-confidence help women advance in their careers, Neena Shukla writes for Virginia Business.

Shukla is a senior assurance manager and government contracting niche leader at PBMares, an accounting and business consulting firm.

She explains that while "men and women both possess key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation ... women seeking to climb to the highest levels of business often face a double standard where they have to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves."

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To overcome those barriers, women need "confidence and connections," Shukla says. She argues that companies must do more to help boost women's confidence and to discuss early on with women how they can achieve leadership roles. Women also need role models whom they can aspire to be like and who encourage them to aim higher.

"As women leaders we have to give them the confidence back and tell them you can do this and as a company, we are here to help you," says Lynne Doughtie, chair and CEO of KPMG.

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin's first female CEO, says never turning down a promotion helped her climb the career ladder. "I always did something I was a little not ready to do," Hewson says. "I think that's how you grow."

Shukla concludes, "The key traits are clear: confidence, passion and determination" (Shukla, Virginia Business, 3/8).

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