A humble and consistent commitment to seek out different opinions, uplift my community, and encourage others to be their authentic selves.
Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?
Honoring achievement shines a light on the good work that is being done by people who often don’t seek recognition. When we recognize people for their achievements, no matter how small, it makes them feel valued. The recognition validates their dedication and energizes them to do even more. This is, ultimately, beneficial for the business community because members of the business community at large see themselves in the individual who was recognized and that motivates them to get involved. When the business community is inspired to do more, the community as a whole benefits and this floats all boats.
In my personal life, I enjoy working with students through Read Better Be Better, teaching them to develop a love for reading. I also love planning “Dorm Dwellers” Christmas parties for newly enlisted airmen at Luke Airforce Base, celebrating them for serving our country. I believe it’s important for me, and other leaders, to show up for those who may not have others to show up for them.
While honoring large achievements is important — to me, exceeding expectations and inspiring others to do the same leads to daily recognition of a job well done. That is more impactful personally and professionally.
What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?
Identifying trusted mentor(s), internalizing their feedback and then acting on it is a crucial skill. Good mentors are solution oriented. They look at all the angles, apply their experience and judgment, and then help identify pathways for the mentee to achieve personal and professional goals. They are compassionate and, as these mentor/mentee relationships grow, mentors can become fierce advocates propelling the mentee. But building these relationships requires more than a monthly coffee meeting and it’s often a two-way street. Mentors and mentees who come to care personally about each other’s success are often the most successful pairings.
Building meaningful relationships with mentors and others in your daily life is essential to success. I have realized success in my career because of the people who’ve mentored me and the people who’ve given me advice. More importantly, my professional growth is due to the people who have given me a chance to succeed.
I have found that meeting and listening to people from a variety of backgrounds and careers provides the opportunity to productively shape our belief systems and decision-making capability. Awareness and respect of different points of view creates worldly perspective and is the key to long-term success in any profession.
What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?
As individuals, the best way to make a difference for young people and especially women is to focus on our commonalities and not our differences. When we find common ground and get to know each other, we are far more effective in solving problems and finding solutions that benefit everyone.
I also think that making a difference in the lives of young people requires those of us who are more established to meet those who are coming up where they are. Those who are younger want success and it may be measured differently. Our values may not be their values, and that’s okay. We need to listen, nurture and guide — often in ways that may seem nontraditional. Particularly in large organizations, helping younger people to find their voice while showing them how multiple perspectives can work together to achieve even better results will help them achieve greatness.
In today’s world compromise is often viewed as a negative. However, when we work to find solutions that benefit everyone, everyone is invested in the success of that solution. This leads to a stronger state and business community, which ultimately creates a thriving business environment, bringing new companies and jobs to the area.
I am a native Arizonan with a passion for our state. My professional experience spans from local governments to presidential campaigns and cattle to cable. As a board member for Read Better Be Better and a member of the Fighter Country Foundation Blue Blazer Squadron, I strive to give back to my community in a meaningful way.
Rachel Aja is currently the Southwest Region Government Affairs Director at Cox Communications.
In Few Words
- What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? WICT Rising Leaders Program
- What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Dedication
- What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Patience
- What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Networking
- What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? The greatest issue facing Arizona today is divisiveness in everything we do.