By Erika Varga McEnroe, Sr. Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Synopsys

Even though we are already in the second month of the new year, it is never too late to consider resolutions we can commit to as we strive to grow as leaders. As senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer at Synopsys, itself a forerunner in electronic design automation (EDA) and intellectual property (IP) for semiconductor design, I’ve had a front-row seat into what it takes to put a positive stamp on colleagues, an organization, and one’s own career path.

For anyone who’s interested in leadership—but for women, in particular—I recommend these three resolutions for starters:

  1. Be brave
  2. Act confident
  3. And, above all, be prepared

First, we need to BE BRAVE. We need to be willing to take on challenges, speak up, and ask those tough questions.

Second, we need to ACT CONFIDENT. Women are so much better than we give ourselves credit for.  So even if you don’t yet feel confident, act confident. Confidence is something I’ve struggled with, yet this has probably caused me to be more prepared than the next person.

Finally, above all, ALWAYS BE PREPARED. While you can fake confidence, you can’t fake knowledge or preparation, so you need to take the extra time to prepare yourself by enhancing your skills and your knowledge. This is how you earn the respect of others. The doors of opportunities open when you impress the people in the room (or Zoom!) around you.

I didn’t strictly plan my career path. Instead, I attribute my moves to people—mentors, professors, former bosses, and co-workers—who suggested areas where they thought I’d perform well or offered me opportunities for growth in new positions. It’s always helpful to listen to people who know you and know your strengths. If you’re following your strengths, you almost can’t go wrong in your career journey. With each step, you’ll pick up crucial skills and knowledge to earn the respect of those around you and lead you to your next phase.

Look for guidance from people in other ways as well – find your inspiration from leaders around you. Take note of the qualities and characteristics of the leaders you respect the most. Whether it’s how they handle stressful situations, how they delegate, or how they treat people, commit to emulating these qualities to become the type of leader that you would admire.  And remember the words of Maya Angelou:  “… people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I also encourage people to get involved in groups outside of your own organization, whether it is a benchmarking group with people in similar positions at other companies, or a non-profit organization that you are passionate about.  You will be amazed at how this will enhance your leadership skills, broaden your thinking, and expand your network. I became a board member for Watermark, an organization whose mission is focused on empowering women to make their mark in their companies, careers, and communities. This experience has provided me with a rich opportunity to share ideas with others and bring a lot of valuable perspectives back to my work at Synopsys.

It’s also very important to feel good about the work that you do and where you work.  I am very proud to be at Synopsys.  Not only does Synopsys play a significant role in a future of “Smart Everything,” we are putting our values into action to also deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits to all of our stakeholders through our “Smart Future” Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. We are helping address global issues such as climate change, as well as focusing on social issues in the communities around us.

Adding one last suggested resolution to the list: read a book. In particular, read “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. This is a book that I’ve gifted to other women. As I’ve mentioned, confidence is so important, especially for women. This book is about believing in yourself.

Author Bio

Erika Varga McEnroe is vice president, deputy general counsel, and chief ethics & compliance officer at Synopsys, Inc., an S&P 500 company.

She is currently responsible for corporate governance, public reporting, mergers and acquisitions, ethics & compliance, privacy, marketing-related legal matters, and procurement. Erika also helps lead Synopsys’ corporate social responsibility efforts.