Megan Lee, CHRO & Vice President of Strategic Planning, Panasonic
What are some of the primary obstacles you faced while trying to move up the corporate ladder?
Over the years, there have been some of the usual challenges with under-representation of women in both the boardroom and the C-suite. In the past two decades, there has been steady improvement in the number of women executives, both in our parent company in Japan as well as here in the US, but there is still room for improvement. Also, as a Korean-American, I have faced the challenge of being a non-native English speaker, but this has been less of an issue.
What role have coaches and mentors played in your life, and how did you go about choosing your coaches and mentors?
Mentors and coaches have been instrumental in my life and I believe they are crucial for a person’s development. Those relationships have helped lead me to new behaviors that have enabled me to achieve my personal and professional goals. The people I sought out as informal mentors have been people I admired for their skill and understanding. No one assigned them to help me, I introduced myself and asked for their help on my own. They were generous enough to trust me and to allow me to learn through their experiences. In a few cases, someone who became a mentor chose me; such people were able to see things in me that I didn’t recognize in myself. I’ve been blessed in that way.
How has networking impacted your career path?
Networking has had an abundance of positive impacts on my career development that has helped me build mutually beneficial and lasting relationships. When you’re able to connect with people through networking, it’s great for brainstorming, idea sharing, and perhaps gaining a radically different perspective and deeper understanding of your industry and the marketplace as well as the business challenges others may be facing. Networking is not something I take to naturally, so I’m still working on developing that skill.
What involvement have you engaged in the local community that you found helpful for self-development or helping others grow?
At Panasonic, there is a rich internal culture that encourages outward community engagement and this has afforded me the opportunity to work with a variety of community and industry organizations. In addition to participating in professional organizations, being able to share my professional experiences through traditional and reverse mentorships and public speaking opportunities has allowed me to connect with people I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. It is also a great way to get a deeper understanding of yourself and your strengths and weaknesses.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would like to share with individuals who are trying to advance into a position like the one you currently hold?
I strongly believe there is no substitute for hard work. But it’s not just about working hard, it’s also about working smart. Don’t ever be afraid to ask people for clarification or assistance; part of the challenge in growing your career is knowing when you ought to call on the help of others. You hear it often, but I can’t repeat it enough: Whenever we stretch, we grow! In addition to working hard and helping others, humility and a willingness to listen underpin one’s success. You should never lose sight of what you were like when you first started out on your career.
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