Journey to the C-Suite: Life Lessons to Advancing Your Career

Pitney Bowes senior leaders Ana Chadwick, Shemin Nurmohamed and Debbie Pfeiffer share their unique journeys as women of the C-suite.

At Pitney Bowes, we have always embraced engagement, inclusion and diversity as core values that drive our success. Our commitment to empowering women is reflected in our history of female leadership across various business and operational roles since the 1980s. Today, we are proud to have women make up half of our Board of Directors, and our global workforce is comprised of over 43% women and 36% of our global managers are women.1

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down with the top women leaders at our company, Ana Chadwick, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Shemin Nurmohamed, Executive Vice President and President, Sending Technology Solutions, and Debbie Pfeiffer, Executive Vice President and President, Pitney Bowes Presort Services. Together, they reflect on their unique journeys to the C-suite and answer a few of the questions on many working women’s minds today. Let’s jump into the conversation.


One common thread through each of your paths to your roles today is ongoing change and development. When you look at your careers, what was most valuable in helping you transition to different roles?



I've always been growth minded and development oriented. Having a framework of constant change and development enabled me to take educated risks throughout my career which allowed me to expand my skillset. I always tell myself and those I mentor: unless you're uncomfortable, you're not learning. You must take those “scary” opportunities, embrace them, and say, I’m going for it… then don’t look back.



As a single mother when I began my career, I encountered unique challenges that helped shape my determination and resilience—qualities instrumental in navigating my professional journey. Despite these difficulties, I remained focused on balancing my responsibilities as a parent with advancing my career and contributing to the success of the business I supported. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and agility, traits fundamental to my continuous professional development.



To grow you must be constantly learning because if you aren't learning, you've stopped growing. Learning and letting go of impostor syndrome are key. Everything is learnable within a corporate environment, so once you get over the initial fear of “can I do this?” and acknowledge that you can learn anything you set your mind to, you'll start to take chances that will get you out of your comfort zone and enable you to grow.


How do you manage your work-life balance with the pressures of society for women to “do it all”?



It all starts with routine and prioritization. For the past 27 years, my husband and I have “date night” on Friday night. It’s our night to unload the week and connect with each other without distractions. We prioritize this commitment to each other and make sure to pre-set anything else that may hinder us from having that time together because getting time to connect with my partner and my family is critical.

The second part of my routine comes down to my workouts. My team knows that twice a week I run out the door because I have kickboxing. It’s important not only for my physical health, but also my mental well-being. It enables me to take a break after work, which allows me to show up for my family when I get home.

The third component is probably the most important to consider for working women: how to share the load as caretaker – whether that’s for a child, elderly parent, or a disabled sibling.

It’s important to realize you can’t do it all. Instead, we need to ask ourselves what is it that I need to do versus what is it that my parents can do; or a spouse or partner?

There are things that you will never delegate. For me that is the advocacy for my special needs child. I've made that a priority and I make it work because I’m able to be flexible in other parts of my life. This is where ruthless prioritization kicks in, and you need to be honest with yourself and your boundaries.



It’s essential to recognize that achieving the right work-life balance requires support from others. It's about understanding that not every day will be perfect, but with time, things will even out. There may be instances where work commitments interrupt family time, but it's all about finding balance and being adaptable. Ultimately, it boils down to identifying your priorities. For me, being present for my children was paramount. It's also crucial to have a mutually respectful relationship with your employer. Knowing your personal goals and boundaries is key, and finding an employer who supports them is essential. In my case, I was fortunate to find an employer willing to accommodate my role as a single mother while still allowing me to actively participate in meetings and travel as needed.



I made certain changes as soon as I became a leader. I would not have meetings in the evening or dinner meetings. Instead, if I wanted to get the group together, I would meet over lunch because I found dinner engagements were difficult for working mothers to attend. Something as simple as adjusting meeting times can give an opportunity for all voices to be heard.


What do you hope for the future, whether it's for us as a company, as a society, what's the thing we should leave here optimistic about?



Every day I hope that each one of us develops into a better version of the day before. I look at the numerous awards and accolades we receive for our diversity and inclusion efforts and I’m immensely proud. We owe it to our teams today and for our future to continue to step up our inclusive leadership.



I hope for the future that we continue to foster a more inclusive world, not only for women, but for all other minorities and diverse populations. I recently read something McKinsey published that said companies who have a greater diverse population tend to be 25% more profitable. So, there's proof out there that having diverse teams enables better business outcomes. I don’t want diversity to become a ‘check the box’ metric either. It should be fostered naturally by companies who create environments that allow highly skilled employees accelerate to the top.



I'll bring it a little closer to home. My hope for the future is that we continue to embrace our unique Pitney Bowes culture and drive this business forward by doing right by our clients, our employees, and the business. I hope that we all stay true to our values.

1As of 12/31/2023



Did you know?

At Pitney Bowes, creating an equitable business for women takes form in many ways and we celebrate women and their accomplishments in serving clients, creating value, and innovating in our markets throughout the year. Women have held top-level positions in our major businesses and functional areas for over 40 years.