As we get closer to our 12th Annual Top Women-Led Businesses Luncheon on May 18th at Jungle Island, we thought it’d be a good idea to get up-close and personal with one of our incredible panelists. Carmen Perez- Carlton is currently completing her tenure as President of FPL Fibernet, a company she joined in 2004 where she has held several positions, including director of accounting and administration and vice-president sales, prior to being appointed president in 2007. Carmen has had an incredible journey and we wanted to learn a little bit more about Carmen, the woman behind the business.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Cuba and raised between New York and Miami
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
As a child it was probably being on Broadway, but as I got older, I knew I wanted to be an executive and run a company. But I still love Broadway, and my favorite show is Wicked.
How/ what helped you get to where you are today?
Determination, resilience, and a lot of hard work. I noticed a consistent pattern in the successful people I looked up to – a major focus on communication skills. I realize that this sounds broad, but I believe it is one of the most important factors of success.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date?
I’m happy to say that I have two. The first is seeing my three children grow into great, happy adults. And second is, selling FPL Fibernet for $1.5 billion. I was there for twelve years, president for ten, and while I’m incredibly proud, the feeling is bittersweet.
What is your ‘secret’ to success?
I don’t think there is one particular secret because success is driven by so many different factors. I would say it is a combination of communication skills, resilience, and hard work. I also had great mentors along the way.
Who were these mentors?
There are a couple, starting back to when I first started out at Deloitte. Mentors can be leaders in the company, bosses, people you report to, or peers who are successful in their own field. However, it is always someone who is very candid about his or her feedback. I have always been willing to receive that feedback, internalize it, and implement it in my journey to grow. They were always people that I admired who were ahead of me in their professional careers and I made sure to learn everything I could from them.
What is one leadership lesson you have learned along the way?
As a leader, you have to earn your employees respect and trust. The most important thing about being a leader is setting the vision and the strategy to achieve that vision. You have to have a team that respects and trusts you in order to implement what you want. I find that being in the trenches with them is critical. I have also learned that as a leader you have to listen. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the people doing the work, no matter what level of the organization they are in. Lastly, I always hire people that are smarter than me and that have the right attitude.
What advice would you give young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
1. Be observant of others and find a role model in your company.
2. Networking is crucial.
3. Be willing to take risks when it comes to developing your career and career moves. I think women are less likely to do something that puts them out of their comfort zone and that uncomfortable place is where the magic happens.
How do you disconnect?
For a long time I didn’t disconnect because I was raising three kids and my life revolved around them and my work. Now it’s travelling and I love boating on the weekends