How Women Leaders Build Careers They Thrive In

Female Designers Having Brainstorming Meeting In Office

By Christie Hunter Arscott and Lauren Noël

Early career women understand that building a career and life they thrive in is no small feat. Instead, they find they are navigating a labyrinth of obstacles, twists, turns, and often dead ends. They desire to learn from the stories of triumph, defeat, and resilience of those who have gone before them as they chart their own paths. Research from QUEST identifies six mindsets that high-powered women leaders display. This article outlines how senior women leaders think and provides a roadmap for early career women for how they can flex different mindsets to build careers they thrive in.


“How do successful women leaders build careers they thrive in?”

This is the question that is top-of-mind for early career women who desire to learn from the journeys of the accomplished female leaders who have come before them. Beyond seeking inspiration, the next generation of women leaders are asking for practical advice on the capabilities they need to navigate tough choices, tradeoffs, disappointments, and adversities in their quests to build careers they thrive in.

When answering this question, the senior women leaders we interviewed spoke both of the skill sets that have contributed to their rise and of the mindsets that have shaped their overall outlook and approach to building meaningful careers and lives.

When it comes to skill sets, these women display deep technical expertise. Their day-to-day activities and responsibilities showcase their mastery of their fields, whether it be human resources, legal affairs, risk management, operations, or other areas. They also possess a high level of industry knowledge coupled with an understanding of their organisational contexts and cultures. They have a breadth of functional business knowledge and display broad-based business acumen. They understand the core business functions that drive bottom line impact. In addition, they are highly-skilled communicators, strategic thinkers, problem solvers, and people motivators.

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About the Authors

Christie Hunter Arscott is a leadership advisor and researcher, specialising in gender and generational strategies. She serves as Principal of QUEST – a global leadership institute for early career women. In 2017, Christie was selected for the Global Thinkers50 Radar List of the 30 management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organisations are managed and led.

Lauren Noël is the Managing Director of QUEST, ICEDR’s global leadership institute for early career women. The International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) is a global consortium of 30 world-class companies and 15 business schools. In 2017, Lauren was selected for the Thinkers50 Radar list of the 30 management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organisations are managed and led.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.