Why do you do what you do?

Bad knees and growing boredom teaching dance led to a career shift.

A friend suggested HBS – I was "at least as smart as the bottom half of his class." Hence my adventure from dancer to Board Vice Chair of a major corporation. I relish risk and change – emigrating from the U.K., attending HBS, speaking truth to power, seizing opportunities.

For me, accepting risk is essential for living a full life. Straight talk is in my DNA, though I had to grow "business legs" for courage at work. (Then learn diplomacy to be heard!) I telexed our chairman after seeing his WSJ quote on our approach to China, saying he could jeopardize our negotiations. I was often the lone voice pushing for line jobs for talented women for whom staff moves were the norm. Business is more productive if one doesn't mince words or play politics. I have found my element in business leadership.

Change at home gave balance that I did not know I needed. As I approached 43, our son arrived. Several months later we added a good friend's two sons when she died of cancer.

Flexibility, straight talk, both key to my journey....emigrating, changing careers, advancing, and building a family.

— Patricia Barron