Being a lifelong student has been key to Laura Clayton McDonnell’s success. As a vice president of enterprise sales for digital workflow company ServiceNow, McDonnell is tasked with leading teams that help customers achieve better outcomes. But she didn’t start out in sales.
After earning a joint MBA and JD at Berkeley, McDonnell worked in private practice and then as an in-house corporate securities lawyer for Apple, Cisco, and Sun Microsystems. She later transitioned into executive leadership roles in the business world. “It comes down to valuing a growth mindset and learning,” says McDonnell. “Bottom line, I am a student of my customer. I am helping to solve their problems. That’s how I sell.” That growth mindset has carried McDonnell through all of her roles, from the VP of strategic services at IBM to VP at Microsoft.
Equally important for her success have been self-reflection and personal growth. “To develop a high-performance team, you have to know what drives you,” says McDonnell, who advocates developing a personal philosophy statement. “Mine is to live life in an exemplary manner through courage, curiosity, compassion, humility, integrity, and optimism.”
She infuses these values into all aspects of her life, including serving on the boards of numerous philanthropic organizations, such as Women United of the United Way of NYC and the Women’s Forum. Helping women to progress in their careers and for communities to thrive, says McDonnell, “is what drives me, what motivates me, what’s absolutely essential.”