At an early age Nkonye learned that giving your all was the mark of excellence. Her eighth grade teacher insisted that she go the extra mile, even though she had top grades. Today, she strives to do her best with every new challenge, and doesn’t rest on her past accomplishments.
This optimistic leader shares her insights on how to take hold when things appear out of control.
Change is a process. It includes feelings of anxiety, fear, and guilt. If you understand where you are in the process, it’s helpful. You have to be honest with yourself. Are you feeling anxious about change, because you’re comfortable in your current situation? Or are you afraid of failure, if you take a risk on something new?
People handle change differently. The way you react is not necessarily how others will react. That’s when emotional intelligence becomes very important. Work to understand others’ unique challenges, and then offer support. A change in the workplace can happen so quickly– you’ve processed it and moved on, but a colleague may not have. Find ways to give guidance and direction; sometimes you’ll be the supporter and sometimes you’ll be supported.
You have the power to accept or reject a change. A new situation might not be for you, and that’s okay. Not everyone has to accept change–some people can decide to opt out. It is okay to say, ‘I understand, but this is not right for me.’ From a career perspective, if someone is presented with a new job opportunity, for example, make sure it is the right fit.
Changes are happening to everyone, not just you. Most times, you are not alone during periods of change, so it’s best to be open to feedback from other people. By listening to their experiences, you may understand how to handle the situation better.
Find what’s constant during times of change. Look for something routine. Finding that thing can help you feel more in control, and feel better about yourself. For example, for me—it’s going to the gym, or doing my pro-bono work.
More from Nkonye
What did you excel in as a young student?: I was very good in math and science– and studied engineering in college. I apply these problem solving skills in my career.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years?: I’d like to be running a division at J.P. Morgan. I like people and management–I feel I have a great deal of knowledge to impart.
Favorite Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Favorite Book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
What is your fiancé like?: He is an engineer, calm, level-headed; being with him provides balance.
What would you say to girls wanting to go into STEM careers?: Hands down — do it! Be confident that if you’re passionate and put in the work, you will be successful.