The biggest lesson I learned in my career: Advice from corporate citizenship professionals


Since 1985, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has been helping organizations align corporate citizenship objectives and business goals to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Through research, networking opportunities, and execu­tive education classes, the Center has helped more than 10,000 professionals deepen their understanding of the skills and solutions needed to conceptualize, build, and grow corporate citizenship programs and initiatives that are as strategic as they are impactful. The Center benefits from the wide array of experi­ences and perspectives members bring to all of our resources and events—including our courses—where learning grows exponentially as a result of our dynamic members.

Here, five corporate citizenship profes­sionals who have earned the Center’s Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice answer the question: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career? Read more of their perspectives in the article Career Path, which appears in the latest issue of the Corporate Citizen.

Shantrelle E. Johnson, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, Advance Financial Foundation

The practice of corporate citizenship is fluid and broad, therefore, initiatives you may be driving one year are not the same initiatives you may be driving the following year. In this field, you must have the power of influence. A major part of my role is to bring ideas that align with our core business to senior leadership for corporate support. Therefore, you must be able to learn to deal with rejection of ideas and keep pushing to make small gradual changes that are best for the company, employees, and the community. Lastly, it takes time to move the needle. After being in my role for five years, the importance of the work I provide is recognized and respected.

Sally Del Fierro, Director, Community Engagement, Port of Seattle

The power and opportunity of collaborating with others has fueled my biggest successes. While it is a simple concept, partnering takes real work, an open mind, trust, and a win-win attitude. Through collaboration, good ideas become great ideas and outcomes are more creative, fun, and authentic. I love President Harry Truman’s quote: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Duncan Graham, Product Strategy Manager, Black Knight Inc.

The career you start out with is not necessarily the one you finish with. Embrace every part of your journey knowing that all the experiences you have will ultimately inform you about where you belong. Have the vision to embrace this and the courage to execute on it. CAUTION: Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone…frequently.

Geoffrey A. Castro, Program Manager, Corporate Community Relations, CenterPoint Energy

The biggest lesson I have learned is just how important relationships are. From employee engagement and community partnerships to career growth, maintaining, nurturing, and building new relationships is an essential tool for making an impact.

Tobi Herron, Director of Community and Employee Involvement, Faurecia Clean Mobility

I have learned that sometimes timing can be an underrated component in the work you’re doing. You may have a great idea or project, but if your audience isn’t ready, that great idea becomes a nonstarter. This is why stakeholder engagement is critically important. You have to be mindful of where your stakeholders are in their thinking and workflow so that you can ensure your project complements their initiatives. There are very few instances where the big, bright idea gets traction when it is presented out of the blue.

Are you interested in earning your Certificate in Corporate Citizenship Practice in HALF the time at HALF the cost? Join us in San Diego, January 14-18, 2019, for the Accelerated Certificate Summit.