After graduating from MIT with a degree in Chemical Engineering, “dealing with being let go before ever starting to work was tough on the ego for someone who thought she was going to change the world.” But even early on, this resilient leader kept going and got a better job.
Recovering from the death of her “best friend,” her father, was extremely difficult for Kerone Vatel and her family. Here she offers strategies for recovering from loss and uncertainty.
Accepting What Happened
In life, things happen that will often test our emotional and physical endurance. Losing a parent, for example, can easily push any person to their emotional limits, and for Kerone losing her family’s “rock” and source of support, was a traumatic event. “My father was in many ways my best friend. I could consult with him on a range of topics: relationships, careers, politics, and philosophy.” The way she was able to get through it was to accept what happened and focus on what her family needed. “When you’re the 3rd of 4 children you get viewed as the baby and I really had to shine as an adult, and be responsive to my family’s emotional needs. It’s made me a better parent and manager of people.”
Owning Your Part
Another step in being resilient is to own your part in those situations where you do have control and use them as opportunities to grow. “When I was coming up in my career, [at another company], I was promoted to lead a team, and one day a young women in the group came to me, candidly sharing that she didn’t know where she had room to grow and develop relationships on her own. What became apparent to me when I reflected on the situation was that I did not do enough to define her role and responsibilities.” It was an important learning moment for Kerone as a manager.
Becoming Aware of What Makes You Tougher
During the crisis of 2008, Kerone went from feeling economically secure to having her family’s financial future pulled out from under her. She dealt with this difficult time at work by focusing on the impact she could make by improving how the firm did business. “I don’t dwell on revisiting the past. I’ve learned to pivot towards the future, [and] be very curious and focused on trying to do something that is beneficial for the greater good.”
What three qualities would you like to see young girls develop?
Empathy, hopefulness, and unwavering curiosity.
What is your favorite movie?
What do you like to do in your free time?
Dance, garden with my family, travel, workout.
What is the best advice you ever got?
“Life is hard for most people, and I have to remind myself not to let my ego cloak me into a false sense of comfort that doesn’t allow me to be humble.”