Follow the Leader: Eco Chic

I recently sat down with Martha Corrozi Narvaez, Associate Policy Scientist for the University of Delaware.  Martha is a respected leader in her industry and although we’ve known each other for many years, it was quite refreshing to talk “business”.  My biggest takeaway -although our backgrounds and industries are quite different – that core leadership lessons are universal.  

In her role, Martha spends her time on projects focused on improving the way we live with water – the quality, flow, and storage.  The awesome thing about Martha is that while the rest of us were chasing fame and fortune in the business world, she focused on her passion for public service and the environment.  Read the interview below.

1. Biggest career success?

Taking the work that I do at a local level and watching it expand nationally.  I’ve found that in this industry, good work has a ripple effect – you are given opportunities to expand into other areas and projects based on the quality of your work and your reputation.

First impressions are everything.

2. Biggest lesson learned?

One big lesson learned for me was mentoring.  When I began my career, I identified a mentor based on the person who is immediately above me in my organization.  But over time I realized mentoring is much more that just your next career step or promotion.  It is about creating a network because people have different strengths and learning from folks outside of your current role is just as important and internal mentors.

3. Biggest regret?

Yes, there is one that comes to mind.  I was pregnant with my son and was offered a job.  I didn’t feel comfortable with the long-term security of the position but a year later, the same position opened up in a more stable team.

Because I was pregnant I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be able to handle the change so I opted out of the interview process.  I often wonder where I would be today if I had gone in for that interview.

The lesson here is to take risks and put yourself out there!  Explore opportunities regardless of the stage of your life! You owe it to yourself.

4.    Share a leadership story.

My field is dominated by male engineers who have been in the field for years and tend to think “inside of the box”.  As a young women and non-engineer, this was, at first, intimidating.  But in time, I built up my confidence and experience and it has its advantages.  I’m often the lone woman at meetings or in workgroups and this almost forces people to listen.  And the most surprising thing to me is that my thoughts and “fresh perspective” are nearly always welcomed.

5.    Your “big 3” ?

On Networking – Force yourself to network and don’t burn bridges.  You never know who your next boss or project partner will be.  Participate in lectures, talk to people you respect.

On Mentoring – Be a mentor and push people out of their comfort zone and watch them flourish and grow.

On Managing – Managing a project is like being an interpreter of many languages – it requires lots of listening and collaboration to make it work.

About Martha Corrozi Narvaez

Martha is an Associate Policy Scientist for the Water Resources Agency at the University of Delaware.  Martha has spent over 10 years working in Water Resources and Public Administration.  She is a published author and holds a BS from Lehigh University and an MPA from the University of Delaware.  Learn more about Martha here.

Image Source: iStockPhoto

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