Wellington, CEO, Catalyst
in Career Choice:
Thirty years ago I thought Iíd build a career for myself in and
around public health and academia. If you had told me then that
Iíd be running the most influential think tank on women in business
and addressing standing-room only audiences of business leaders
in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom for Catalyst annual awards ceremony,
I would have referred you to a very fine mental health center
for which I worked and helped you check yourself in. But the business
world has changed since then and so have I. Women populate business
in record numbers. And we have six women CEOs in the Fortune 500,
triple the number in 2000.
Point & Mentors: I didnít have a lot of mentors when I
was building my careerĖ one didnít, back then. But there was one,
Steve, a distinguished professor of Psychiatry at Yale, who gave
me a professional nudge when I needed it. I had been working with
one of his colleagues building a community mental health facility.
For several years in the 1970s I took over running the mental
health center, while my boss wrote his way to tenure. When my
boss was appointed Head of President Carterís Mental Health Commission
he requested a leave, which was granted. Yale started searching
for a new director, while I kept running the shop. And I have
to tell you that back then, I didnít even think twice about it.
Then one day Steve called me into his office. He said in that
classic, flat analystís voice: ďDonít you want to be the director?Ē
It never occurred to me that Yale might actually give me the directorís
job. Even though it was the job Iíd been doing in all but name
for years. Steve said, ďJust go to the Dean and the Department
Chair and tell them youíre very happy theyíre looking for a director
and that after they find someone, and you orient him, youíll move
on.Ē So I did. And a funny thing happened Ė they stopped recruiting.
They gave me the job. I did it just as well as Iíd done it before
they gave me the directorís title and paycheck.
Since assuming the presidency of Catalyst in 1993, Catalyst has
doubled in size and initiated annual measures of womenís progress
in the uppermost ranks of corporate America. Under my leadership,
Catalyst has spearheaded the most comprehensive research to date
on women of color in corporate management.
Donít be afraid to take risks. Donít be afraid of change. Donít
be afraid to ask for and take on high-visibility assignments.
And, donít be afraid to fail. You canít win without failing.
To spend time with my grandson. There is nothing better than being
a grandparent! Iíve always been a mission-driven person. Professionally,
my work has always been ďcauseĒ related. I donít see that changing.
Itís ingrained in my character. I want to continue to have an
impact where I think there is a need.#
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