From Ambition to Achievement

Women have long navigated a narrow passageway to career success. No two paths are identical, and success depends upon a myriad of factors: development, support, culture, relationships, and communications, to name a few. Yet even amidst the variability, there are consistent determining factors that can have significant influence in women’s career paths. 

In Pivotal Moments for Women Leaders: Executives Reveal the Keys to Career Momentum, we share the findings of an in-depth study of 37 successful women leaders who share the career points, behaviors, and mindsets that fueled their momentum and charted the course for their professional success. 

The result: real stories from women leaders who made it to the top—stories of triumph, failure, trial and error, and the pivotal decisions that helped them to get a seat at the table. 

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A Career Blueprint for Women Leaders

Optimal career path

This report examines women leaders who made it to the top ranks and the powerful momentum they leveraged to get there. We sought to understand: 

  • What their career paths look like over time 
  • What behaviors, choices, contributing factors, and pivotal moments fueled their momentum 
  • How they made it to the top despite all the documented obstacles 

Key Findings

Our research revealed: 

  • Top three shared behaviors among women in leadership positions: tenacity, agility, and curiosity 
  • Top three contributing factors to success: clarity of purpose and personal brand, accurate assessment of their situation, and courage and confidence to act 
  • Top ways for women to create momentum and ways for supporters to help: early foundational experiences, late-career direct asks, rotations that give broad experiences, specializations, and higher degrees 
  • 68% of study participants cited pivotal career moments where they showed courage as a success factor 
  • 61% of study participants cited their brand or highly articulated value proposition as giving them an edge 

Download the report for a full list of findings.  

A Message to Employers

This research isn’t just for women. 

The Pivotal Moments report was created as a guide for both women and their employers. Uplifting and empowering women to foster greater representation and diversity in organizational leadership must be a co-creation between women and employers.  

The Pivotal Moments report includes guidance for organizations, helping C-suite members and talent leaders to: 

  • Understand the factors that accelerate career trajectory for women leaders, helping them to recognize and build on their strengths and unique capabilities
  • Integrate and replicate proven opportunities into existing DEI initiatives for greater reach and impact
  • Create systemic change that improves retention of women

Our interviews revealed many ways for women to create momentum, and for organizations to support them in this quest. The outcome will be better leadership, better organizations, and a better future of work. 

“I have ambition and have been this way from a young age. If you want to be CEO, you can be. You have to want it and work for it.”

Lydia, CEO of an Investment Firm

Download Pivotal Moments for Women Leaders