By Leadership Rhode Island Women's Network | 9/10/20
LRIWN: Debbie Proffitt, LRI ’16
Vice President, DoD Operations and Business Development at Purvis Systems
The Leadership Rhode Island Women’s Network interviewed Deborah Proffitt (LRI ’16), Executive Vice President, Vice President, DoD Operations and Business Development at Purvis Systems. Her Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Positivity, Developer, Empathy, Achiever, Connectedness – 4 of the 5 are in relationship building domain.
What do you consider the 3 key skills for success?
Personal relationships, flexibility and willingness to learn. So much of what I do is based on working with others, expanding that network of business relationships and maintaining those relationships. Flexibility, being willing to take on any task, if even for the short term, be willing to get your hands dirty for the success of another person or a project. Willingness to learn, every position I have had has required a lot of learning – changing careers I had to go back to school, becoming a project manager I had to get certified, learning provides valuable tools for expanding your opportunities and finding your passion.
My mantra is….
You are giving back, you are making a difference, you are touching lives.
How did someone come to be a mentor to you?
When I was teaching I met a Mom, who happened to work for my father. We continued our friendship to this day as we ended up working in the same industry. We would often have long chats about what we wanted to do with our careers, how we were feeling about our careers and she always provided very good insight and advice.
What challenges have you taken to get to where you are now?
A lot of hard work and sticking with it. My hard work was recognized and I was very lucky that it gave me career opportunities, opportunities to grow.
What would you tell your younger self?
Take the time to figure out your passion and follow that passion in your career. I am always so impressed by younger people who have so much conviction in what they want to do for a career and they follow that path. For me, it seems like I didn’t have that passion and was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. I knew I wanted to work with people, in the social services, my college internship was at a counselor in a runaway home and my first career was teaching preschoolers. Then I ended up in the business world where a mentor reminds me that I am still working closely with people and touching people’s lives, listening to people, it’s still an important part of my career, good advice. I guess my 5 top strengths reinforce this idea. I still continue to satisfy my need to touch the social services by volunteering with organizations like the United Way and serving on the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB) and co-chairing the GWB Career Pathways Advisory Committee (CPAC).