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How up-and-coming leaders can stand out from the crowd

Written on Jun 29, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

While there is no one path to success, taking initiative and speaking up can be instrumental in excelling your career, says one software president.  

“Stop being afraid,” said Dania Buchanan, president of SmartVault. “If you have skills and competencies that align towards business outcomes, or see yourself in a position, don't be afraid to say it. Tell your managers and company leaders that you're ready to take the next step in your career.” 

Buchanan will present her session, “5 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When I Was 30,” at the July 20 Women, Wealth & Wellness Conference. She’ll share life lessons she learned in her journey toward achieving balance as a leader. 

When it comes to long-term leadership, Buchanan said it’s not enough to be highly skilled in a specific area. Instead, she said those with the skills need to take accountability for projects and business goals. That shows you’re invested in the company’s success and willing to be accountable for the project’s outcome.  

Buchanan said that after spending decades in the software industry, she appreciates the cultural shift that has come around vulnerability and being true to who you are in the workplace. Thanks to thought leaders such as Brené Brown, it’s becoming more acceptable for leaders in the workplace to be more open about their mistakes or struggles and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.  

“Vulnerability is an act of courage, and we're all just humans trying to do the right thing,” Buchanan said. “The best that you can be is your authentic self and show up every day living your values.”  

And while many professionals have leadership goals, career fulfillment can take on many forms. Buchanan said success looks different for everyone, and before jumping into more visible leadership roles, she said it’s crucial to do some self-reflection to understand if this is what you truly want.  

“Not every path to success leads in moving up a ladder,” she said. “Sometimes you can be an incredibly valuable resource to a business as an individual contributor when you're just the best at what you're doing. Remember that success is not defined in one way.”  

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