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Your career is a marathon, not a sprint: 4 tips from Katy Fink, VP, Chief Human Resources Officer

In today's competitive job market, career success requires more than just skills and experience. It's essential to seek guidance and inspiration from experienced professionals who have excelled in their careers. We had the opportunity to connect with Katy Fink, Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at Stryker, to learn more about her professional journey and get some valuable advice you can use while navigating your career path.


For more than 20 years, Katy has been mentoring leaders, building high-performing teams, and developing strong workforces as an HR leader. In her current role, she is responsible for Stryker’s global HR policies, practices, programs and activities, including talent acquisition, retention and development.


What advice does Katy have for professional development? Let’s find out!


1. Embrace discomfort and try new things

Some of the best advice Katy received early in her career was to try new things that make you uncomfortable – and this lesson stuck with her. Whether it's leading a project, presenting on a topic or taking on a new role, embracing discomfort signifies personal growth. Not all stretch opportunities work out, but each experience offers valuable insights about yourself and the company.


Early in Katy’s career, she was offered the opportunity to take on a role in Human Resources, even though she didn’t have an HR background. “I was excited and anxious about the decision, and when I have that feeling, I know I should try something. Lucky for me, I discovered I love HR and the opportunities to develop talent and engage employees.”


2. Your career is a marathon not a sprint

Throughout Katy’s career there have been ups and downs – times that she’s been fully focused on work, and times when her focus was needed elsewhere – and that is OK.


Years ago, Katy faced a pivotal moment in her career when she decided to step away from work for a year to focus her energy on personal family matters. Although it was a difficult decision, Katy reflected confidently on her time away from work sharing, “It solidified for me the importance of knowing what’s most important to you and realizing that your career is a marathon, not a sprint.”


3. Lead with authenticity

There is a common misconception about leadership – the belief that leaders should conform to a specific set of behaviors. Katy emphasizes the importance of knowing oneself and leading authentically. “I have come to realize that the best leaders know themselves and lead in a way that is authentic to them. Doing so builds trust and generates more engagement, followership and inclusion – which drives better results.”


4. Never stop learning and growing

Aspiring leaders should consistently challenge themselves to learn and grow. Katy suggests various methods for personal and professional development, such as reading, networking, engaging others on new projects and pursuing formal learning opportunities. “Inspiring new perspectives and learnings can be discovered in many different places.”


Interested in more career advice from Stryker’s leaders? Make sure to subscribe to our career blog for the latest content.


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