Name: Carol

Vocation: Cofounder of Franklin Street Policy Group, an advisory firm and professional networking organization

Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?

I am currently the cofounder of an organization that convenes, connects, and advises global impact leaders across sectors to develop solutions without borders. I worked for a management consultant for 15 years, which was incredibly rewarding but I felt something was missing. I made the decision to return to school to earn a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University. After graduating, a classmate and I would get together to catch up and would end up talking for hours about international affairs and the implications for businesses and development organizations. We decided to start a policy group to connect with others in NYC who have similar interests. What started as casual dinners among friends grew into the business we have today.


2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?

The biggest barrier for me is what’s referred to as “imposter syndrome.” For some reason, it’s easier to believe that successes in life are due to serendipity rather than the result of hard work and competence. I am motivated by other women who have built successful organizations, and who have taken risks in their careers that have led to interesting, unusual career paths. Sometimes we start out in one direction and wind up doing something completely different! It can feel frustrating but I don’t think a linear career path is best. It’s important to branch out, even if it’s taking on a different type of project at your current job, or making a lateral career move in order to learn new skills.


3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there?

My ideal state is to be in a position where I am involved in a variety of rewarding initiatives and continually meeting new friends and colleagues who can help me grow. It’s also critically important to have some flexibility and work-life balance. Achieving that can be quite difficult, since things are so competitive and there is so much information that we have to digest and act on quickly every day. A key learning for me is to not focus one hundred percent on every single task that needs to get done, but to prioritize my energy on projects that are truly important and will have a long-term benefit.


4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general?

One thing that disturbs me a bit is the intergenerational competition and sniping that I see among Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials. Each generation has its particular challenges, but we really can all learn from one another’s struggles, and we have a lot more in common than differences. Ideally, it’s best to have a diverse group of colleagues and friends – across generations, genders, socio-economic groups, and ethnicities – because you always grow and learn from others’ experience and perspectives.


5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobbled to getting a work mentor etc

Yes, buy quality not quantity, don’t stress so much, take any opportunity to travel, always do the right thing even if it’s not popular or you think it won’t be noticed, be gracious and willing to lend a helping hand, and give credit where it’s due.


BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (general thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!)

Really, I think you have to do both. The “follow your passion” advice is great if you can support yourself by doing so. But for most of us, we need to think holistically about what we want professionally and personally, and put together a plan to achieve those things.


BONUS BONUS QUESTION: What are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I left a very good paying job at a prestigious firm to return to school. There are times when I thought I made a mistake, especially from a financial perspective. However, the experience was worth every penny since it has opened up a whole new world of ideas and connections. You have to keep moving forward!