How Expressing Gratitude Strengthens Relationships and Opens Doors

As the holiday season begins, the Forté team is grateful for our supportive community, more than 100,000 women strong — and we’re especially excited about our new Alumni Leadership Council. The Council is part of Forté’s commitment to supporting women at all career levels. We want to help these impressive post-MBA women continue to advance into the highest ranks of business leadership, while sharing their insights, perspectives, and experiences with other women in the Forté network.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked the inaugural members the following question: How has gratitude been important in your career? Their answers are both inspiring and thought-provoking.

“Having a mindset of gratitude is important for leaders, in both times of adversity and of triumph. Setting aside dedicated moments to appreciate the discretionary efforts of myself and my team gives me renewed focus and fuels me moving forward. Setting aside time to reflect, celebrate, and learn, enables leaders to demonstrate their ability to carry themselves with grace.” – Karisa Mashlan, MBA IE Business School

“I have an amazing job and when it gets stressful, it’s helpful for me to remember how fortunate I am to be doing such purposeful work. Coming back to a mindset of gratitude helps me conquer the hard days and overcome obstacles.” – Rachel Heydlauff, Senior Consultant

I am always thankful for the opportunities that come across my desk — no matter how big or small, they serve as an  opportunity to leverage my skills or develop new ones, form high-performing teams, and move an organization’s mission forward. It’s the willingness to say yes that others remember, and in turn, that has propelled my career. I am grateful for the chance and the chance taken on me.” – Asha Aravindakshan, Author, Skills: The Common Denominator

“There are two sides to the coin of gratitude: showing and receiving. It is easy to forget to show thanks for all the positive things that happen in our career, as we tend to focus on the negatives.  However, by actively appreciating what is good, it has  allowed me to perceive the bad in a different way, one that helps further my development. On the other hand, receiving gratitude in our career acts as a positive reinforcement: the more appreciated and recognized I have felt throughout my career, the more motivated I was to strive for more.” – Joanna Bitharas, MBA, Management Consultant

I’m a big thank you note writer — I always have a set of personalized stationery ready to send off a quick few words to let someone know I appreciate them. I think it’s important to let people know how their actions have positively impacted you. But it’s also important for me to take stock of who the key people are in my life as well so that, even somewhat subconsciously, I know who I can come to for future advice, rely on for help, or remember to return the favor.” – Stephanie Simon, CXM Implementation Manager, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Co.

Gratitude means showing appreciation — not just for the large deliverables or end of a project but saying ‘thank you’ for a nicely worded email or providing informal feedback. One or two words of giving thanks can go a long way.” – Jenny Le, Corporate Strategy Associate

I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the many mentors, coaches, and sponsors who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career. Reflecting on that gratitude regularly keeps me grounded and driven to be a role model for others, but also to do my part in supporting and mentoring women and diverse talent around me to reach their career aspirations. I’m grateful to be selected to serve on Forté’s Alumni Leadership Council in the aim of furthering Forté’s mission to launch more women into successful professional careers.” – Rachel Bush, Finance Director, Johnson & Johnson

For me, gratitude boils down to being grateful for the mentors and colleagues that have become more than coworkers, they have become my community. Throughout my career, I have met some wonderful people who have helped guide me through my different careers, encouraged me to take risks, and supported me through every big swing. Through this strong community I’ve built, I know that I’m not alone and I’ve always got a few cheerleaders behind me!” – Zhana Edmonds, Head of Organic Social, Specialty Retail, and Luxury, Wayfair

“Gratitude has opened up a whole network to me. By being grateful for the time I’ve spent with others, they’ve made other introductions for me that they might not have considered before. I love paying it forward by mentoring young women and giving them access to my network.” – Vonetta Young, Investment Readiness and Fund Formation Advisor

“It’s very important not to only have a mentor but also a sponsor to help you progress in your career goals. I am very grateful for those who sponsored me during my career, who stuck their neck out in order to advocate for me, create opportunities, and build that visibility. I am so thankful for these few people and I in turn, look for opportunities to sponsor others, especially those who lack representation in management positions.” – Leila Areff, Finance Excellence Program Associate, Siemens

I am forever thankful that I am able to thrive in my work and passion because of the trailblazers who came before me. Whenever I speak with one of those trailblazers, I am instantly rejuvenated with valuable perspective, gratitude, and reminders to lift as I climb.” – Amie Kromis, National Director of Vendor Diversity

“Gratitude has played a critical role in the various stages of my professional career. Early in my career, I used handwritten notes and unexpected gifts to thank the individuals that poured their knowledge, advice and support into me. After a few years in the corporate world, I showed my appreciation for the professional growth and opportunities afforded to me by mentoring those coming behind me. The past few years have brought me to a new stage where I appreciate the importance of showing gratitude to myself for the hard work and perseverance that brought me to this point. I do this through taking the time to work out regularly, actually unplugging while on vacation, or simply giving myself the permission to be an imperfect and constantly evolving professional.” – Juliet Lawrence, Senior Finance Manager, Dow Inc.

Learn more about Forté’s Alumni Leadership Council.

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