- Nancy Uridil believes in the power of her visions.
- Surround yourself with people who understand and support your goals.
- Everyone has their fair share of struggles; always remember to believe in yourself, you are your biggest cheerleader.
Can you share a little bit about your journey – how was your childhood and what key experiences may have helped you become the person you are today?
My parents were World War II veterans. A microbiologist father and a mother who worked outside home and excelled at every job she took. She didn’t have a college degree, so she wanted me to have all the opportunities that she didn’t. That is how I got enrolled in different classes, which greatly helped prepare me for the future. When I was attending senior year, my Physics teacher gave me a brochure about the Society of Women Engineers from Los Angeles’ section. And while listening to a room of female engineers talking, I decided that I wanted to do that too.
It wasn’t easy being one of a few girls in college. I faced a lot of discrimination and unequal treatment, from catcalls to being excluded from certain opportunities. However, I did not let this stop me, and I learned how to be more assertive and excel in my field. But upon my discovery of the student section of the SWE in Purdue, I was able to work an internship that summer for Procter & Gamble, which really opened doors for me. I was offered permanent employment soon after and worked for the company for the next 20 years.
How much of an impact do you think the Society of Women Engineers made on your career path? Would you have done anything differently if you were to go back in time?
The Women in Engineering Program was the first of its kind, and alongside my internship at Procter & Gamble, I learned that it was possible to work with both people and technology.
If I could have done anything differently, I think I would’ve gotten psychological counseling earlier. It was through therapy that I was able to achieve personal developments, and I wish I would’ve started earlier. Another thing is that I would have liked to obtain my MBA, as it is a relevant credential to have.
Was your transition from internship to leadership position intentional? If so, why did you decide to choose P&G?
It was intentional. I chose Procter & Gamble because I would have people working for me in my first job – sixteen guys who had never had a woman boss around them. Procter & Gamble provided clear responsibilities, a good boss who coached and held accountable, and existing processes and systems. I really committed myself to the position and actively searched for advice to learn and improve.
How did you balance your work and personal life? What would you say to those women struggling with doing so?
You can have it all, just not all at the same time. After all I’ve been through, especially around the time when my mom had grown older, I’ve truly come to learn that you can’t really do everything alone without external support. So don’t be afraid of asking for help when you need it.
Whether it’s working or staying at home with your family, you are the only one who can decide what will make you happy. In times of struggle, personally, I always find relief in my friends and my spirituality. Wherever you go, whatever your struggle may be, you can always bring your spiritual life with you to help.
What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Different biases, sexism especially. I was around 24 when I fully understood the extent of sexism in my life. I learned to be aware and assertive. I understood that I must pick my battles and remember to build as many bridges as possible. Besides that, another challenge was my desire to nurture my personal life beyond my career. Until a certain point, I had always been focused on my career. After several serendipitous events, I ended up moving to Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, and I got married three years later.
What do you want to be remembered for and what legacy would you like to leave?
I want to be remembered for creating a loving family. I’m passionate about my family, so I invest a lot in them. I also want to be remembered for my contributions: creating great leaders, financial success, building democracy – essentially as a person who created and brought visions to life.
We all have different experiences with biases, but we all have our own ways to overcome these. For Nancy, it all starts with a vision. She believes in setting her goals and following them. Aside from having a vision, her advice is to join with like-minded collectives, as they can make a critical difference. Remember that you are responsible for your own development. You are your greatest contribution to the world, and your success will be the representation of that contribution. Just keep doing what you’re good at.