Though the journey of our careers and lives can often be winding, feature backtracking and zigzagging, every step is a part of the thread that makes us who we are. We were lucky to have Rhonda Winter, EVP of Bluelock, share her “thread” with Linking Indy Women at a recent event.
Beginning her career at General Motors, Rhonda made her way into the tech field more by chance than by intention – the IT department happened to have an opening as she was entering the workforce. As she cycled through learning the various departments at GM, she ended up in processing, where she discovered a love for problem solving, a facet she would look for in all her future career endeavors. “You have to learn who is at the table with you and understand where they come from to solve a problem,” said Rhonda. Additionally, GM helped show her how technology changes lives – at home and abroad. Through nearly two decades, she was able to travel and gain experience and appreciation for how various cultures handle their problem solving issues.
Rhonda was often the only woman in her department at the manufacturing giant, and other women she encountered throughout the company were often tough – a trait she learned to incorporate into her work style. Self described as someone who “loves the hunt of finding a tough problem and fixing it”, Rhonda’s next move was a departure from manufacturing. Taking a job at a greeting card company, she found that work environment is just as important as the work itself to happiness. Though the “cubicle jungle” wasn’t for her, she did continue to discover who she was, including the importance of working at a place that shares your core values. “Understand who you are as early as you can,” says Rhonda.
Returning to her passion – technology – and the possibilities that can bring, Rhonda has also spent time at the NCAA, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a local art museum. These experiences led her to another valuable lesson – crowdsourcing resources and asking questions can often get you to solutions faster than relying only on yourself. “You are going to get stuck, a lot. There is magic in connecting and giving experiences,” says Rhonda. This approach also enables people to “think out loud” together, something she cites as one of the best tools for her career. “You have to figure out how to collaborate and work together in order to drive knowledge to another level.”
Now at Bluelock, she has found her ideal thread is a balance between her work and home lives. An avid horsewoman, Rhonda spends her weekends engaging in competitive equestrian activities, something that helps her disengage from work – which is a must. “You need a pop off valve when you work hard. You can’t have the pedal to the medal all the time,” says Rhonda. So what is her best advice to women who are looking to find the thread in their own careers and lives?
- Realize you need to be an individual
- Work of mouth learning and mentors are key to growth
- Good value comes from asking open ended questions – it allows people to tell you what they really think
- Learn to say no – instead of dragging someone along, teach them to work with you
- Get away from C projects and focus on A projects
- Give yourself a listening period when you take a new role. Talk to other employees and ask them questions – both those that feel positively and negatively about the workplace.
- Make friends at work and don’t lose connectivity to your groups
We can’t thank Rhonda enough for sharing her story with us!
Want to learn more about Rhonda or connect with her? Check her out on LinkedIn!
Interested in connecting with fellow women in 2017? Make sure to sign up for our emails for learn about all our Linking Indy Women events!