Colleen Athans

VP & General Manager

Location: Cincinnati, OH

"Looking back, I have so much respect and trust in my boss, who obviously believed in me."

The early part of my career was spent building my expertise in operations, which dealt mainly with the internal side of the organization. My boss reached out and suggested that I run one of our engine programs, which focused on on product and sales. This was an entirely different direction for me, which felt like a huge risk.

I respected my boss a great deal, so I told him I would think about the opportunity and let him know. He encouraged me to consider how I could learn and benefit from the new experience. Though I was afraid I might not be able to pull the job off, I realized that he would not have asked me to take on the role unless he thought I would excel in that position.

So I took the job. Before I even started, I laid out a clear plan for how I was going to ramp up. The gaps in what I knew were far greater than the strengths I brought to the role. But I did what I could to make it happen. Soon, I found that I was learning more about the business, my customers and, of course, myself.

Looking back, I have so much respect and trust in my boss, who obviously believed in me. He taught me to focus on what I could do for the job versus what it could do for me.

In my opinion, women are more likely to doubt their ability to learn something new; men seem to automatically say, “I can do that.” I think more women need to be willing to take risks; we’re just as smart as the next group of men. We need to stop worrying about knocking it out of the park before we even pick up the bat.