Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Blanca De La Rosa, an Author, Writer, and Speaker, based in Aldie, VA, USA.

What’s your product and who is your target audience?

Over my forty-one-year professional career, I learned that there are certain attributes, skills, and action steps that are essential to career success and better positioning yourself for that next career move. “A Holistic Approach to Your Career” is an insider’s guide for coping with the challenges in the corporate maze with uplifting and inspiring advice. Discover how to assess the journey of your career, manage a bad manager, deal with career failure, and develop a career road map. It offers a fresh approach and insight into climbing the corporate ladder to increase the chances of success in the workplace.

This book is honest and pragmatic in its accounts of my professional experience and provides sound advice based on my reality and my personal experience. It features practical advice on how to manage conflict, tips on getting ahead, navigating the land mines and banana peels in the corporate world, and overcoming career failure. The overall tone is positive, uplifting, inspiring, and motivational while realistic. It encourages readers to dare to dream and prepare and position themselves for that next promotion. The following pages contain information about personal career mistakes and guidance beneficial to anyone who dreams of building a successful career. I pair personal stories with strategies for overcoming adversity in the workplace.

“A Holistic Approach to Your Career” is for those recently entering the corporate environment, providing guidance that they may not get in the classroom or at home. For those that need guidance and advice on how to advance their careers and move on after career failure or dealing with a bad, ineffective manager. Millions of employees are silently suffering through the abuse of a terrible manager or depressed about their inability to advance their careers.

Tell us about yourself

I was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in the Projects of the upper west side of Manhattan in New York, during the time before the Hispanic population developed the supportive Latino community which exists today. Although I struggled without support in cultural and linguistic transition, I was able to graduate from Pace University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management and to establish a successful 34-year career rising through the ranks of Mobil/ExxonMobil Oil Corporation.

As an immigrant, I struggled with learning a new language and acclimating to the weather, fashion, values, and customs of a new culture. At times, these changes were so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure I’d ever fit in. My parents could not help, as they were also struggling to acclimate, and they did not understand or know what it took to get ahead in this new environment. Like many immigrants before them, they were trying to find their place in the land of opportunity. In the 1960s, there was no supportive Latino Community to help with assimilation and ascension within the dominant English-speaking culture. With no one to help ease the difficulties of transition, there was ample opportunity to stumble linguistically and culturally. We made plenty of mistakes along the way.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in a predominantly Spanish-speaking environment within our slice of the Big Apple. We spoke Spanish at home, and most of the kids from my elementary and high school, the local businesses, and my circle of friends were of Hispanic descent. I had little to no exposure to other cultures. However, I did not understand the impact of this lack of diversity until I ventured into the working world as a legal secretary in Midtown Manhattan. Despite some similarities in my background with the other secretaries at the law firm, I seem to have missed a lot in the translation while growing up in New York City’s Public Housing Development (The Projects). I had a lot of catching up to do.

The law firm took the girl out of the projects, but it was extremely difficult to take the projects out of the girl. Unlearning the behaviors of eighteen years does not happen overnight. Behavior modification is a long, continuous, and arduous journey that may or may not fully eradicate those learned behaviors. The behaviors, emotional reactions, and experiences I learned during the first eighteen years of my life became part of my personality. They are a subconscious part of who I am. It was the armor that protected me and helped me cope and navigate a volatile environment. These behaviors lay dormant in my subconscious as part of my personality, resurfacing when I feel threatened. There is a trace of that ‘old me,’ that ‘me’ that you cannot see, hidden deep in my subconscious. That ‘old me’ resurfaces when some external event wakes it up and brings it forward. I’ve fallen back to familiar behavior when threatened, which, most times, has been an overreaction.

I started my corporate career in 1982 while still working on my undergraduate degree and after six years in a small law firm. Nothing in my background had prepared me for a job in corporate America. Having grown up in a humble working-class environment, I entered the professional world with little to no knowledge of corporate etiquette and its unwritten rules. As I looked around our corporation, there were no role models, no one to emulate, and no one to offer advice on the dos and don’ts of the corporate environment, so I had to do it my way. I had to learn things on my own by trial and error, making a lot of mistakes along the way. Some of these mistakes caused me to make some career moves, and others I overcame.

I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if we had not immigrated to the United States. When I visit this beautiful yet impoverished island of the Dominican Republic and see the need and want in the eyes of some of the people, I think, “That could have been me.” So, I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for everything that I have been able to obtain and accomplish.

What's your most significant professional accomplishment?

My greatest professional accomplishment was developing a successful 41-year professional career. Who says you can’t climb the corporate ladder—your boss, your coworkers, your parents’ or siblings’ negative programming? How do you excel when the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you every step of the way? How does an immigrant, born in a small town in the Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City’s public housing development, wind up in a fortune 5 company such as Mobil Oil Corporation?

My son told me that a person from the South Bronx once asked him, “What does your mother do for a living?” He responded, “She is a businesswoman at Mobil Oil Corporation.” The person responded, “People like us do not get jobs like that.” Well, they do, and I did by empowering myself and creating an amazing career. I did so by not letting the naysayers get me down and by believing in myself and my abilities.

During my career, I held numerous positions, both domestic and international in nature, with increasing responsibility. These assignments took me around the United States, Europe, Central / South America, and Nigeria. I retired from ExxonMobil after 34 years of service. As a Business Development Manager and President of the company’s Employee Resource Group.

After my time in the industry, my most rewarding role was serving as a mentor to the young employees in her company – guiding them through the corporate maze.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an author?

My personal story was the hardest to write as I struggled with what to include/exclude. I did not want to offend anyone or come off as a drama queen.

Writing can be a career for some. However, for me, writing (creative writing) is a passion. When I write, I feel like I’m creating something. The process consumes my entire life and consumes everything around me. I write because I like to write and share my experience, and I would write even if no one read it. If I can help even one person, then writing is worth the effort.

I started writing and researching my novel “Pursuing a Better Tomorrow” in 2000 as a hobby. Since I had a demanding career and family, I’d work on it sporadically whenever I had the time and inspiration. I took a creative writing course at Northern Virginia University and was so discouraged that I put the manuscript down for about four years. What made me think I could write a book? But despite the experience, that nagging voice in my head kept telling me I had to write and publish this book.

The bulk of the writing and synthesizing of the research was done in about one and a half years after I retired and was able to publish ‘Pursuing a Better Tomorrow” in 2019.

What tips would you give to anyone looking to progress in their career?

The progression of your career and candidacy for job promotions require that you take a holistic approach. Taking a holistic approach to your career means taking a comprehensive perspective that considers every aspect of your work environment, which can lead to optimal career success and satisfaction. It requires that you consider everything from educational requirements to how you carry yourself at work. Ensuring that you strike a proper balance of the various aspects that make up the work environment.

More than a degree in higher education will get you hired, but once you are on the job, you must prove and distinguish yourself from the competition. Demonstrating that you can contribute to the company’s bottom line. Succeeding in business requires a complete package that takes more than just a degree. Your experiences, skills, and abilities need to be varied and balanced, and determining which is more beneficial to a successful career, book smarts or street smarts, is exceptionally difficult because it depends on the person and the circumstances.

Interpersonal skills. A successful career requires that you complement that formal education with informal education. You need to gain all the essential abilities and skills to deal with the growing demands of the personal and professional spheres. Besides your education and technical hands-on skills, you must develop and hone your interpersonal skills, also referred to as soft skills. Interpersonal skills are on balance with professionalism. In its simplest terms, professionalism is the ability to strive to conduct yourself with responsibility, integrity, accountability, and excellence as you go about your day-to-day.

A holistic approach top ten. I have detailed the top ten items that I have found to be most critical when taking a holistic approach to your career. My top-ten items are not listed in order of importance and are not meant to be all-inclusive or work for everyone. This list may differ from one person to the other, depending on their individual background and industry. This selection is based on my reality and experience. I encourage you to take and adhere to the items that resonate with you and leave the rest behind:

  1. Take the Initiative. Always give people what they need, not just the job description’s deliverables. Taking the initiative means going above and beyond your typical duties and taking charge of situations before others do.
  2. Continuous Learning. Stay on top of what is going on in your industry and understand how it can be affected by legislation, local events, or other worldly matters. Learning a new skill, technology, or process related to your industry—makes you smarter and increases your value as a person and an employee. Continuous learning is one of the best ways to further your career growth.
  3. Value of Communication Skills. Your career survival and competitiveness can depend on your ability to communicate effectively. Develop both your verbal and written communication abilities. Get what you want by making your words count.
  4. Decision-making. Decision-making is the process of choosing and solving problems utilizing your intuition or analyzing data or a combination of the two, and it is at the heart of success. Decisiveness is an essential aspect of getting ahead. Decisive people are respected and tend to get promoted.
  5. Establish Yourself as a Leader. You do not have to wait to be assigned a supervisory or managerial position to practice and develop your leadership style. Leadership skills are developed over time with practice and experience. If you aspire to have a formal leadership position within your organization, you should start developing, refining, and defining your leadership style immediately. Look for opportunities within your day-to-day activities to develop and exhibit your leadership skills.
  6. We all need Mentors. No matter the stage of your career, you will often need someone to help you navigate your work environment and point out the land mines. These should be people you know who honestly believe in you and your abilities and will help you navigate the challenges you may encounter in the workplace. Mentoring offers an opportunity to establish an informal one-on-one environment for coaching and feedback.
  7. The Art of Networking. If you are serious about your career, learn how to network. Get out there and meet people. These people may have networks of their own that you can tap into to help you reach your career goals. Get to know people, so people can get to know you. Networking takes time and effort, but it is well worth the benefits you may derive.
  8. Distinguish Yourself. Identify your unique and transferable skills and strengths so you can define and refine your personal brand and enhance your marketability. Identify and master the skills required in your field. Which of your unique skills will you choose to distinguish yourself and stand out from the competition?
  9. A More Confident You. Self-confidence is a belief in oneself, in one’s abilities, or in one’s judgment. It is freedom from doubt. Some people appear to be born with self-confidence, but most have to work at it. Self-confidence can be developed and nourished.
  10. Business Acumen—Understanding the Big Picture. Business acumen is an ability that allows you to understand and cope with unique business situations. Business acumen is not any one particular skill but a collection of competencies, knowledge, and awareness of multiple aspects of a business your particular business.

Where can people find you and your business?


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