Letter to My Younger Self: Andrea Scott, Human Capital Management

21 FEB 2020

Andrea Scott is chief operating officer of Human Capital Management (HCM) and also oversees HCM Strategy and Brand. 

Dear Andrea,

Spoiler alert: your life is going to be filled with the unexpected – with many twists and turns along the way.

So much for thinking you would grow up to be an FBI agent, or work for the CIA. Right now, I bet you can’t even imagine that you could work at an investment bank, but it’s going to happen – so buckle up! Saying “yes” to the Goldman Sachs offer will be the best decision you will make, besides saying “yes” to marrying a really wonderful guy. It will help shape you, as a professional and more importantly as a person.

Your run at the firm is going to be interesting, to say the least – 24 years, three divisions, three continents and seven different roles – you will see a lot. There will be many successes, you will make a real impact, you will laugh (a lot)! But…there will be disappointments and frustrations along the way, too.

Overall, your days will be purposeful, your skills valued, and your counsel sought and appreciated. You will make a difference, and will meet people who become some of your closest friends. So trust yourself and your judgment, and be flexible and embrace change. If you’re positive, you will see that positivity resonate in others – so be your authentic self and follow your north star.

And I should have started this letter by telling you that you will be happy…so relax.

With that, here’s some simple advice to help you along the way:

  1. Ask for help (the smartest people ask the most questions). Over time, you’ll learn that asking for help is actually a sign of strength. After all, it is almost impossible to advance in your career without the assistance of others, and asking questions promotes collaboration and a more productive work environment. You will see that most people want to lend a helping hand – they too find it rewarding!
  2. It’s your worst work day...until the next one. Move on. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the past – if something happened, you can’t change it – but ask yourself: Is anyone going to remember what happened tomorrow (Probably not! Tomorrow really is another day)! Is there a lesson to be learned? If so, let that be the takeaway, and don’t forget to acknowledge the good things that happened that day, too.
  3. It’s ok to say “no.” Sometimes, you won’t agree with a request – not because you don’t want to help, but because you think there might be a better approach to achieve the desired outcome. So start by asking: What do we want to achieve? What is the objective? That will help you understand what your stakeholders want to accomplish, and give you the foundation to brainstorm a different path. There will also be times when you may need to say no because you just cannot take something else on – and you know that if you were to say yes, you would disappoint yourself and the requestor, because you wouldn’t be able to deliver. That two-letter word can be really hard to say, but knowing when to use it shows that you understand your priorities. Don’t overcommit – at work or at home.
  4. Take the high road, and always be kind. Kindness should really be the new “cool.” Being kind to others not only helps you feel good about who you are, it also puts a smile on the face of others -- and that kindness is contagious. A simple good morning to a stranger on the street or to a co-worker in the lobby goes a very long way. Kindness at work boosts morale, and the added benefit is that it can also help diffuse stressful situations.
  5. Handwrite your thank you notes. In today’s digital world, opening a handwritten note is not very common, so writing one can really help you stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t have to be an essay – short and sweet will suffice. A handwritten note can truly brighten the recipient’s day – and it’s something they can keep and reflect on for years to come.