Be Who You Are, and You’ll Get to Where You Want to Be
Amanda Dominguez, Chief Operating Officer at Wiss, sits down with the Marketing Team to talk about her ever-evolving career.
Is there someone you look up to as a leader?
Amanda: In his famous work, The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran says on teaching, “If he [the teacher] is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” I’m thinking of someone I’ve worked with – a mentor, leader and friend who encapsulated this very thing for me. Someone who led quietly, giving me the space to find my own path forward, while always knowing and believing in what I was capable of – largely before I knew it myself. That is a gift. This unwavering confidence in me is what helped to fuel much of my trajectory.
How would you describe your style of leading others?
I’ve learned that good leadership begins with a real relationship. That relationship is symbiotic – an opportunity to learn and grow with each other. It’s about being open to learn from those that you’re leading. I lead a team that I genuinely look forward to spending time with each day – we are always having fun together and uncovering new ways to do things, working toward our common goal – to make Wiss the best place it can be. Having some fun is key.
Also, people want to know that you care about them; that you are genuinely interested in their success. A good leader is ‘ride or die’—someone who’s going to be there for you through success and also through failure because they believe in you. Give people the safety to fail and you’ll unlock so much potential. I’m still learning every day, but these are some of the qualities that I strive for.
“A good leader is ‘ride or die’—someone who’s going to be there for you through success and also through failure because they believe in you.”
Is there anything you would have done differently in your career, mentally or actually?
One thing that I wish I had been more aware of is that your career does not have to be linear. I really believed in my upbringing that I had to do A, then B, then C; be the best you can be in that vertical. I spent many years doing something that didn’t fulfill me because of this mindset. The moment that Wiss believed in me, and I had the courage to make a significant change, it freed me up to consider career alternatives that turned out to be life changing. You can always start over. I wish I had had that realization sooner.
“The moment that Wiss believed in me, and I had the courage to make a significant change, it freed me up to consider career alternatives that turned out to be life changing.”
What were you doing before you made this pivot in your career?
I went to school and majored in Accounting. I did all the right things: I got an internship in my junior year… I got a job offer going into my senior year… I started my career in Public Accounting as a Tax Associate at a large regional firm… I later got my Masters degree in Tax… I got promoted a couple of times along the way. I was moving up the ranks nicely, and I felt so invested in this career. I had checked all the boxes – the only box left unchecked was my happiness. The realization that this work was not fulfilling to me made me feel like I was failing.
At the same time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had to take a step back and reflect, what are the things that I like? I looked at my current work and I identified the aspects of my role that I enjoy. For me, it was always the people. I loved interacting with my peers. I loved teaching the people below me concepts that weren’t clearly taught to me, to make their experiences easier. I loved getting involved with recruiting, helping the HR team with finding and training talent. That planted the seed: I can use this knowledge and experience that I had built up for almost ten years, and not completely start over, but instead leverage it to do something different.
“I looked at my current work and I identified the aspects of my role that I enjoy. For me, it was always the people.”
Thankfully at the time, Wiss was looking to implement a people-focused role. Fortuitously, I had built the trust, the relationships and the respect of my peers. Wiss approached me and asked if I wanted to take on this role in Learning and Development in HR. It was as if the stars had aligned. Once I took the role, it kept expanding. My knowledge of the business helped it to develop. And here I am! I am thankful every day.
Would you put down this pivot to luck or something more than that?
I like to think of it as, I made the most of every opportunity along the way. I worked really hard – that’s an important piece of this. Had I not done well and given back my all, Wiss would not have entrusted me with such opportunity.
What’s next for you?
On a bigger scale, the best thing I could ask for is to continue working with our awesome Leadership team to help Wiss and our People achieve their maximum potential. There’s so much to be excited about – a growing organization with amazing talent. To have this opportunity to have an impact on that trajectory is incredible to think about. Being able to look back on that—on what we’ve achieved as a team—would be a really great feeling.
“There’s so much to be excited about – a growing organization with amazing talent. To have this opportunity to have an impact on that trajectory is incredible to think about.”
You have two beautiful young girls. What do you think they learn from seeing you in action?
First of all, I have so much more respect for working parents, now that I am one. I didn’t fully appreciate this before, especially as my parents always worked. I thought, that’s just what you do! It’s a lot of hard work. You literally have two full-time jobs that you care and worry about, often feeling conflicted along the way. When I reflect on the last few years, I realize that it was not until I had my daughters that I fully understood what I’m truly capable of. It took having them for me to see it. I hope that I can give them the confidence to always know that anything is possible for them if they want it and are willing to work hard for it. Also, this is for them: I do what I do with them in mind, and with them always in my heart.
That’s a really moving response. One final question: what are you reading or listening to at moment?
The last audible that I listened to was called ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle. It’s a memoir of her life, but in it she’s really talking about all of the roles that females are expected and conditioned to fill; these predetermined characteristics that we’re raised to believe that we as women should have. She challenges this and encourages you to be unapologetically who you are. I’ve struggled with this myself. Her book is a powerful reminder to do you. We only have one shot around the sun; shame to do that under anyone else’s terms. Be who you are and you’ll get to where you want to be.
“We only have one shot around the sun; shame to do that under anyone else’s terms.”
Thanks so much for sharing your story today!
It’s been my pleasure!