I’ve pondered this question ever since because I believe that behind every successful man or woman is someone who helped develop them for success along the way in their life or career. For me, this support started quite early, and I attribute much of my success to it.

My mom was very instrumental in teaching me how to drive accountability to others when things weren’t right—and how to do this in a respectful way. For example, she made sure that if I ordered my own food and it wasn’t correct, I needed to ask the server to make it right. To this day, and in my career at Cummins, I’ve continued to drive accountability to various players in many processes across the organization.

The next critical person in my life was my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Cruz. She was so kind to me and made me feel very special by picking me up as she passed by our house and taking me to school so I didn’t have to ride the bus. I cherished those moments we shared during our drive together.

When I was a young child, my two older brothers always included me in their activities, like riding motorcycles and four-wheelers and swimming at the beach. They placed no limits on me because I was a girl, and I also appreciated how protective they were of me as their little sister. This inclusion has helped me in my career because I’ve worked on many teams where I was the only female present or participating in a meeting. It’s helped me to avoid feeling excluded and like an outsider.

I’ve also been fortunate to have many friends in my life—people I can lean on when things get tough. Life deals you some unexpected challenges, and having friends during those times is so important to help you manage through the difficulties.

Finally, flipping the “behind every successful man” truism, I’ve also been very lucky to have my husband, Scott, in my life. He has always supported me when I wanted to further my education, earn additional credentials, take on challenging new roles at Cummins, and give service to IMA®. The very successful controller on the Amsterdam Women’s Accounting Leadership Series panel stated that having a spouse who didn’t stand in the way of her success was most important. I would have to agree with her.

Who or what has been critical to your success? I’d like to hear from you at gwhite@imanet.org.

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