Shital Mars, CEO of Progressive Care, doesn’t shy away from her non-traditional background, she uses it as an asset. Afterall, according to Shital, it’s helped shape who she is today and informs the way she interacts and manages her teams. I spoke with Shital this month to learn more about her path to CEO, her perspective on skill-development and cultivation, and why without her finance team, she’d be “flying blind.”
Jeff Thomson: You had what many would consider a non-traditional start to your career, working three jobs – special education tutor, bookkeeper and unpaid intern – before being hired full time at an investment banking firm. What about your background has prepared you most for the CEO post you hold now? Do you believe a diverse background better prepares people for executive-level roles?
Shital Mars: It makes me a little sad that my story isn’t more common in the executive world.
I have always been a big believer in compound competence. A lot my strength and confidence have come from learning the business from the ground up. Because I know the ins and out of the operation and I know what it’s like to do the jobs my employees are doing, I think they relate to me better and respect me more. It also helps me make practical and actionable decisions. I know how long projects take, how much they cost, what questions to ask and what kinds of obstacles there will be because I was in the trenches once and experienced those problems first hand.
I believe in diversity, to my core. I’m the beneficiary of someone taking a chance on a person with a non-traditional background. How many more people are there like me that don’t have the right degree from the right place with the right connections waiting for their true potential to be tapped into? What kind of benefits can a company realize when they bring people who may think a little differently about the world and how it works instead of always looking for the same kind of candidates? It’s a risk for sure and not all candidates will work out, but I think we would all be better off if more companies took these kinds of risks. I also hope that when it’s my time to step away from this position, the person who comes after me is someone who had to work their way up.
This article originally appeared on Forbes