Senior women at MetLife offer career advice graduates need to hear

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Valuable career advice from MetLifes Adriana Briones

Valuable career advice from MetLife's Adriana Briones

Impressive women at MetiLfe often offer unique advice from their own post-graduate experience that might come in handy to inspire recent grads as they forge their own professional paths. On the topic of “What I Wish I Knew” is Adriana Briones, Senior Business Planning & Strategy Consultant, who has been with MetLife for many years.

Adriana was born in Ecuador and grew up in Rhode Island. Between high school and university, she briefly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Parris Island, South Carolina. She went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, where she graduated with a degree in International Business with a concentration in Operations Management.

What did Adriana picture herself doing after college?

"I was very interested in manufacturing after I visited Hasbro’s gaming division plants in New England and Ireland, thanks to a work abroad program," explains Adriana. "Manufacturing is more complicated than you think - when you look under the hood, there are all these roles and inputs needed to make a finished product. And while we don’t sell tangible products at MetLife, there are many details that go into selling and servicing insurance - I learn something new every day."

Adriana's first job was assembling and completing the invoices for her mom’s Avon business when she was just nine years old. She was the “back office” and her mom was customer facing. However, her first job with a W4 was at a dollar store, "it was a miracle I was hired because even though I was 16, I looked ten years old," says Adriana. Her high school’s 'Finance Academy' program also helped her as it gave me the professional development she needed to prepare for the role. 

The manager later told Adriana that she wouldn’t normally hire teenagers but was impressed by how professional and prepared she was for the cashier role. That’s when Adriana learned that you can never be too prepared when it comes to your career.

What does Adriana wish she knew about career development when she started out?

"I wish I knew that interpersonal and communication skills are critical to being an individual contributor and leader and that you can practice and develop these skills at any time, in any environment," states Adriana. "Also, success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, you need other people to help you achieve your goals."

Adriana believes that building the right skill sets and having a good work ethic is the foundation for career growth. "However, it does take a village to have sustained success," she says. "That’s why every introduction is an opportunity to learn something new and form inroads with people who could become your mentors or sponsors, leading to further personal and professional development."

How does Adriana continue to learn and grow professionally?

"I look for programs that push me into new roles, projects and teams at MetLife," explains Adriana. "Also, I take every opportunity when meeting someone new to learn about their job, past roles and interests. In addition to asking questions, I proactively make use of available learning courses offered at work, even if the subject matter isn’t directly tied to my work."

Adriana explains how she feels that the key to starting and maintaining a career is NEVER burning bridges. "You never know who will be on your team, be your boss, direct report or stakeholder. It may take a long time to build trust but all it takes is one misstep to lose it."

Diversity and inclusion at MetLife continues to inspire Adriana 

Adriana is constantly impressed and proud of the efforts MetLife puts into diversity and inclusion (D&I). She grew up being a minority in her own community and thought that conforming was the best way to get ahead. But MetLife’s culture changed all that. Seeing unique backgrounds accepted and valued made Adriana want to stay and grow with the company.

MetLife’s diversity and inclusin has also provided Adriana with opportunities to practice and grow her leadership skills through the employee development network, “iRise”. She started as a member and quickly took on different leadership roles, from managing communications to ultimately leading the whole organization.

"At first it was intimidating but together with a senior leader we managed a leadership team of 30 and built programming for our over 2,000 members."

Does Adriana have a mentor or a champion?

"I’ve had both formal and informal mentors at MetLife," states Adriana, "but the most fruitful mentorships came from when I had a specific and clear professional goal in mind that I needed help achieving. This helped my mentors determine the right short and long-term steps to help me get there."

Join the pipeline of future leaders, like Adriana, at MetLife 

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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