LESSON IN LEADERSHIP
Greene was raised by her aunt and uncle who taught her the value of education and leadership. Her aunt was a principal for a school for deaf, hearing-impaired and blind students and her uncle was a pharmaceutical executive.
“I grew up in a home with leaders. I saw my parents (her aunt and uncle) as leaders getting up and getting dressed every day. And when I went to work with them, whether after school or holidays and I had to be at work with them, they were in charge.
They were the bosses. ... They led their organizations and I learned a lot just from being under my uncle’s desk and running around his office and watching him conduct meetings, and being at the school with my mom – my ‘aunt mom’ – and seeing her really lead her schools to greatness.”
FROM MEDICINE TO ECONOMICS
“(Economics) was not my initial interest. I really wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be an OBGYN. And what happened to me is because we didn’t have the money, my parents said to me, ‘Look, we don’t have the money to pay for eight years of medical school and then you’ve got to do residency and all of that.’
“And so unfortunately, I had to change and think about something else that I would enjoy and also be able to come out and make some money. So I picked economics and finance and it’s worked out. So while I wasn’t able to be the doctor that I wanted to be, things have worked out well with my background in economics and finance.
“Sometimes in life, these things happen and it really worked out well for me. It could have gone very, very different.”
“Of all the business disciplines, I loved economics. It was more theoretical than the numbers-crunching side of things. And I loved the theory and I loved understanding how economics worked.”
DIFFERENT WORK CULTURES
Greene said she was “probably a little awkward” early in her career at her first job.
“I was still kind of new to the country. I didn’t have language barriers but cultural barriers – understanding culture here. I didn’t do a lot of socializing. I didn’t do high school here to understand how people socialize.
“I wasn’t socializing in undergrad. So I found, for me, I really struggled, not with the tactical execution of my first job – that I got, totally understood that – but understanding how to socialize and build relationships with people here was very different.
“In the Caribbean, it can be very formal. The workplace can be extremely formal. Your interactions with people are extremely formal. Everyone goes by Mr. or Mrs. even if you’re peers.”
“I remember being told early in my career that I was aggressive. I always got things done, have always been able to execute well. So hearing that I was aggressive was off-putting to me. I don’t want to be aggressive. I want to be assertive.
“I want to get stuff done and I want to continue to build; and I want to continue to create and innovate and add value, but certainly not in an aggressive way. That comes with a negative connotation. That’s not what I’m trying to be and who I’m trying to be.
“So I had to understand the difference between aggression and assertiveness. ...That’s a part of me that, while I have found ways to make it more assertive and to make it one that comes off with more empathy, it’s not a part of me that will ever go away. I will always be able to share my opinions and speak up.”
A BIT OF ADVICE
Having a mentor, branding yourself and creating a network are three of the most important elements of growing in a career, Greene said.
“Create a network for yourself, particularly with big companies. You want to network. You want to meet people across different parts of the organization so that you can understand how the organization runs.
“You also want to build your brand from Day One – really, really important. I’m not even talking about how you dress. Dress is part of it. But build your brand.
“What are you known for? What do people say about you when you’re not in the room? What are the things that are core to your personality and what you stand for? It’s important and it’s important to become consistent with it ... I think those three things done well and done consistently really, really help.”
SERVANT LEADERSHIP APPROACH
“If you truly and with integrity invest in the success of the people below you, the whole unit (and) the whole team will be successful. The manager will be successful. The leader will be successful. The organization will be successful. So it kind of trickles out.
“But you have be somewhat selfless about it. Not to the extent that you erode yourself and your value and your energy in it. But really be of service to others and their success and you in turn will be successful.”
“When you have a good relationship with your associates, you’re able to drive success on an individual level to the point where it becomes collective.”
A BEACH GIRL AND DANCER
Greene started her current position in March but didn’t move to the area until June, so she’s still trying to find hobbies outside of work.
“I didn’t know anyone here so I’m still making friends and trying to navigate my way around and find the fun things to do. I love the beach. I grew up in Jamaica on an island so I am a beach girl. ... I really enjoy being around people and I do enjoy socializing.”
Dance is also an important aspect of Greene’s life, especially modern dance and going to performances. Her daughter has danced since she was 2 years old and is now studying for a dance minor.
“Dance is my chosen art form. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.”
Source: Inside Business