As part of Women’s History Month, Sands is featuring women who have contributed to the company’s success and exemplify its culture of professional growth and advancement.
Meg Russell has been with Sands since 2012 and is vice president of corporate information technology. She provides thoughts about her career trajectory, resources and learnings that have helped her succeed and advice for women in pursuing their professional goals.
Outline your career path prior to and at Sands.
“I spent the first 12 years of my career as an officer in the United States Air Force. During that time, I held positions in military contracting, program management and various professional development roles. I transitioned from the Air Force to a renewable energy company and spent four years developing utility-scale solar energy projects in the California desert.
“Since joining Sands in 2012, I have had the pleasure of working with most of the corporate departments and many of our properties, managing projects related to corporate and global initiatives as an executive director in the corporate project management office and later as part of the newly formed global process innovation team. Most recently, in late 2020, I joined corporate information technology and, along with my team, am responsible for successfully delivering corporate and global technology initiatives.”
What skills, trainings, mentors and experiences helped you build a successful career?
“So much of how I approach my professional and personal life has been shaped by my time in the military, such as the importance of working as a team and executing my responsibilities in the context of larger organizational goals. Even the physical training I completed had an empowering impact on my mindset, realizing that the limitations we put on ourselves are nothing compared to what we can actually do.
“I can also attribute my success to the many mentors that took the time to share the reasons behind their decisions as well as really listen to my perspective. I learned the importance of the “trust but verify” principle when I forgot to confirm whether the general’s bag that contained the uniform he was to wear as the keynote speaker at that evening’s event was loaded onto the military jet (it was not), and I experienced the importance of extending someone grace as he never once reminded me of my mistake.”
What advice do you have for women specifically or anyone who wants to advance in their careers?
“I wish it didn’t sound like a cliché, but I think the best way to professionally advance is to be really good at whatever responsibilities you have, even the small stuff. People will associate you with excellence and they will look for ways to give you more opportunities and trust you with expanded responsibilities.
“The second bit of advice I would offer is to try anything and everything, even if you aren’t perfectly qualified. Before I interviewed for a top Air Force professional development position, the incumbent told me I was unlikely to get the job because I am a woman; thankfully, I didn’t listen to him because that experience was a defining point in my career and opened up opportunities that ultimately led me to Sands. Trying new things doesn’t necessarily mean changing your career. Get involved in your community, volunteer to organize an EmpowHer event or play in a charity dodgeball tournament; all are opportunities to be exposed to and develop a professional network with new colleagues, community members and decision makers.”
What are your ideas for evolving the workplace to better support and empower women?
“One of the things emphasized in the military is that each of us is responsible for creating an environment that endorses our organization’s core values and principles. I think it’s important that we proactively and intentionally create an environment that is inclusive, that is an opportunity where women can thrive. We need to recognize the benefit of different ways of working, thinking and communicating. We need to view those differences as a positive, and appreciate and encourage them, particularly different communication styles.
“I want to recognize that the Sands’ employee resource group for women, EmpowHer, is a fantastic initiative. I’m seeing such a difference in women in the company intentionally advocating for and developing each other. I also love seeing the mentoring that is happening – I see relationships developing with people across the company where women in more junior positions are getting direct access to women on the leadership team that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. The people who are doing the mentoring are so actively engaged, and the mentees are so excited. It’s making such a powerful difference for all who are involved.”
This content was originally published here.