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AVA: The Secret To Career Success

We are AVA, a macro-learning environment for ambitious professional women. We provide weekly on-line content and timely in-person workshops to build critical workplace competencies. Send this to friends and and share on social media @advancewithava.


In a recent article, Laura Williams, the Chief Marketing Officer at Thomson Reuters said she wants to see a world where they "hire me because I'm the best, not because I'm a woman". With a mission to pave the way for future generations, she hopes we stop using the term "female leader" and see women for what they are: "inspirational, transformational, powerful and high achievers".

At AVA, we also want to see women recognized for their best traits at work. To achieve this, the founders of AVA discussed many different options for the business set up. While we agreed on our purpose - to substantively help early- to mid-career women pave a better path to the career growth they seek - we really debated the execution and struggled with the name above all. How do we convey our mission in one word?

The "Origin" of AVA

Working with one of our favorite branding specialists, Graham Milner, the principal at GMP Consulting, we knew we wanted a name that appealed to working women - feminine but strong. We also wanted something that could represent who we are and what we wanted to accomplish.

We discussed many aspirational names with cool images. And then Graham asked, "did you know Ava is the most popular girls name in the world?" Wow, not only did we want something universally appealing, we all know and love an Ava in our circle of friends and family. Plus the the name itself represents 'origin', 'popularity', 'to breathe' and 'living'. To help women start at the origin of their career and breathe life into their work dreams would be nothing short of fun and amazing. AVA it is!

The Acronym Holding The Secret To Career Success

AVA also evolved into a powerful acronym holding the secret to your best career path. As we shared our experience of career success during our planning process, It became clear to the founders that we had all followed a certain pattern. At the collective heart of how we each navigated our career growth is a three-part formula that became our AVA acronym.

The first A in AVA stands for Assess. We agreed we had only done well in our careers when we were able to honestly assess the situation around us. Additionally, we needed to be able to objectively assess our individual ability and skills. This was a longer process that involved a lot of reading, talking to someone we trusted, journaling, and going to workshops. Once we took stock of our current state we could then think about where we were going next.

The V stands for Visualize. As Lewis Carroll said "if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." It's important to continually have purpose in your career. And it was no different for each of us. Once we had really thought about our options, imagined our career dreams and visualized the various paths, we became focused on the end result. Creating a vision board, talking this through with a trusted confidant, more journaling, and mapping it out are the most useful ways to visualize future options.

The last A is our favorite! It stands for Advance. Each of us advanced in our career by having a plan of action. We knew what skills we needed, we knew where we wanted to go and proactively worked hard to get there.

We believe the final key to success is practice. All of the AVA workshops follow this three

step process and include lots of interactive opportunities to practice the tools and skills you will learn. We use fishbowl exercises, 1:1 discussion, role playing, peer review and support and group coaching with cohorts.

While everyone's path is different, make no mistake that growth is most effective when you are clear about what you need to do (Assess), know where you are going (Visualize) and have practiced and started implementing the skills (Advance) required to get you there.

Be the best. Get hired and promoted for being the best. And let AVA be the ace up your sleeve on your career journey.


What topics do you want to discuss? Let us know in the comments below. #advancewithava

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