This month on LinkedIn, in honor of International Woman’s Day, Laura Stevens, EVP, General Counsel, took over our channel to share her experiences and career advice. As a member of the executive team and head of our legal department, Laura and her team develop legal policies and processes aimed at risk mitigation, compliance and comprehensive legal services. Laura is a beloved mentor at Cengage, having worked here for 18 years, and currently manages a team of 60+ employees. We are so grateful she also finds the time to be the executive sponsor of our Women in Leadership (WiT) Employee Resource Group.
Read on to learn more about Laura’s career journey in her own words.
“No matter our experience level- we are all humans, and no one can be expected to know everything. Many people (including my younger self) avoid asking questions because they just assume everyone else knows the answer and want to avoid exposing a lack of knowledge in a particular area. You should never be afraid to ask questions, it is one of the best shortcuts to development and growth.
As my career has progressed, I have worked hard to create a network of family, friends and colleagues who I can reach out to and ask for help when I encounter something new or unknown. I urge others to foster relationships and find mentors who will take time to break your question down or share their experiences and perspectives. Most people who are experts in their areas love talking about it, so take advantage of that.”
The Impact of Cengage’s Women in Technology (WiT) Employee Resource Group
“WiT creates a real sense of community by bringing together women+ of different life circumstances, roles and experiences. The goal of WiT is to promote a culture that supports and empowers women+ and people of gender minorities at Cengage. The group goes above and beyond its objectives to develop women+ by broadening networks and building skills and capabilities. The community aspect is really inspiring and unique; WiT organizes events to check in with our women+ employees, sharing how to manage stress, anxiety and stay connected – which is essential during challenging times like these. When I attend these events and panels, I am struck by the incredible blend of honesty, vulnerability and vibrancy our participants and panelists show.
Today, on the two-year anniversary of this 450+ member group, WiT leaders are rolling out four new initiatives. These initiatives empower women+ to learn and grow through leadership opportunities, networking and career/skill development in order to achieve career mobility and achieve their professional goals with confidence.”
Non-Linear Career Paths
“There is no denying the structural and systemic issues making it more difficult for women to re-enter the workforce after leaving voluntarily or involuntarily. The penalties of this work gap include losing out on lifetime earnings and role potential along with the personal impact of losing confidence and increased self-doubt. But this is not to say the gap-period should define how women think about their careers.
When I made a decision to take a career break to prioritize the near-term needs of my family, people said to me that my career would never recover. But I recognized through my own journey, and the experiences of other impressive women, that it is possible to jump back in. By looking at your experiences and transferable skills as well as what you might need to augment through reskilling or upskilling opportunities, women can see their value and not limit their potential based on expectations set by others. I see no upside to focusing solely on the things you won’t have when off-ramping in your career if it is a decision that you must make. You can’t let it dominate how you think about your career going forward.”