My Advice for Women in Business: Know What You Want and Ask for It!

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By Helen Fanucci, ‎Global Windows Sales and Digital Transformation Leader at ‎Microsoft

The most important piece of advice I could give to women hoping to advance their career is to know what you want and ask for it.  On the surface, this may seem obvious and easy. However, asking assumes you know what you want. It also presumes that you’ve built some credibility in your organization so that others want to help you.  As an example of this, some studies have shown that women do not ask for raises as frequently as men do; and when they do ask, they often do not get them.  Globally the gender pay gap is 46% less pay for women. In the U.S. the gap is 20%.

Planning and Goals

The foundation of knowing what you want requires that you’ve taken the time to create a plan and goals for yourself. Your plan should include looking out 6-12 months with detailed actions on what you need to do. It should also include a 5-10 year plan that will be an outline and become clearer and more detailed as time progresses. Your plan should be based on your goals, values, personal priorities, and life situation. It is essential for those who have ambition to define outcomes to measure themselves by.

Your plan and associated goals become the lens through which opportunities and projects are evaluated. When you are given an opportunity, ask yourself: How does this opportunity enable me to achieve the goals I have? If it does not forward your goals, it is not a good opportunity for you at that time. Your plan will also provide a framework for prioritizing projects.

I mentor a woman who grew her salary by 28% in two years (by asking for multiple raises) and defined a new role that she created based on seeing an opportunity that the organization was not capitalizing on.

Connecting with People

As you reflect on what is needed to move your goals forward, you likely will think of individuals to connect with who can help you accelerate achieving your goals. This is where it becomes important to have clarity so you can ask for what you want. Most individuals I’ve managed do not ask for what they want because they have not defined it. As Lewis Carroll famously said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Asking for What You Want

If you are asking your manager for a raise, promotion, or have an idea that you believe in and want to pursue, it is important that you are an individual who has delivered value and has built some credibility so that people take you seriously, listen, and are inclined to say yes when you ask.

To do this, deliver on the fundamentals and basic expectations of your role. Look for opportunities to deliver above and beyond what is expected. You are uniquely positioned in your role to see things that those above you and around you cannot see. Make recommendations based on your vantage point. Propose ideas and suggest how things can be done better and more efficiently. If you see a gap that you’d like to fill, define the role and its responsibilities and expectations and then ask to do it.

This really works! I mentor a woman who grew her salary by 28% in two years (by asking for multiple raises) and defined a new role that she created based on seeing an opportunity that the organization was not capitalizing on. She then suggested that she would be an ideal candidate for the role. During a recent reorganization, she got that role.

Special Event

Helen Fanucci will be a panelist at the 5th Annual Women in Leadership event at GGU in October. Join her and other distinguished panelists as they share stories, tips, and insights on how to navigate a successful career. The event is open to the GGU community and the public. Admission to this event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Date: October 25, 2017
Time: 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Location: Golden Gate University, San Francisco [directions]


5:30 – 6:30 pm — Registration begins / networking
6:30 – 7:30 pm — Panel discussion and Q&A
7:30 – 8:00 pm — Post-panel networking

For more information about this event, please visit

Get updates and share with friends: #GGUWomen.

About Helen Fanucci

Helen Fanucci leads Windows Enterprise Sales for Microsoft and has held numerous sales and marketing roles at IBM, Apple Computer, and Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley and London.

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