Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on November 25, 2014
A major responsibility of any leader is to help develop the next generation that follows. Many of us have had mentors at various points in our careers, and we know how valuable their guidance was to us.
I advise many current and future leaders. As chairman of the board of the Drexel University College of Medicine, I had a special opportunity to share some thoughts with newly minted MDs and PhDs at their commencement last May. I thought about the most important career advice I could share with them. An excerpt from my remarks follow:
Standing before you is a chemical engineering graduate from this great University, who just happens to be the chairman of the board of your College of Medicine. Now, how does that happen? How does an engineer become the chairman of the board of a medical school?
I can look back to the first day after my commencement, and see all the dots I created along my career pathway. The dots do not lie in a straight line. They zigzag. I took advantage of opportunities to accept assignments outside of my comfort zone. I looked for and implemented new ways of doing things within my areas of responsibility. I looked at problems in new ways, and found new solutions. I stepped out and did new and different things. I took risks. Sometimes I failed, but I never let that stop me from moving forward. It is said that those who never fail never do anything. Failure is painful when it occurs, but it develops resiliency and helps you tackle larger challenges in the future.