Feb 10, 2022
Career Advice from Cigna EVP and General Counsel Nicole Jones

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

It’s a transformational time for businesses. New ways of working, new employee expectations, COVID-19, the Great Resignation, and more, are all pushing companies to rethink their approach to people, process and technology.

Today’s leaders are on the hook to lead a people-focused transformation throughout the business world. It’s going to take a new breed of leadership – one where empathy, prioritization, authenticity and “servant leadership” takes a front row seat.

Nicole Jones is executive vice president and general counsel for Cigna Corporation. We asked her to share some of her top career advice and lessons learned throughout her 20+ year career, to serve as a point of inspiration for other women leaders, and even those just starting out in the business world. Her advice, in first-person, is below:


Remember: Leadership Is Different From Management

Telling people what to do does not make you a leader. Leadership comes from realizing that your team is not there to serve you, but rather you are there to serve them – by guiding and empowering your people. This concept of “servant leadership” is one I have embraced and strive to embody every day.

Prioritization is Key and Priorities Change

After my now-teenage son Avery was born, I wanted to live closer to extended family because being nearby was important to me, and I knew it would grow to be important to him. I realized that prioritizing Avery and my family at that time would give me the inner peace and the motivation I needed to excel in my next career step. So, I quit where I was working to move back to the Northeast and joined Cigna.

Authenticity Matters

Embracing your whole self, and bringing all of you to work each day, with no apologies, will enable you to be the best you can be in your job. As a working mother, I have always felt supported by Cigna in this regard. Our company encourages each of us to be authentic and supports us no matter who we are or where we are in our individual journey.

Determine and Create Your Personal Brand

Someone once helped me realize that what you put out there is how people perceive you. And how people perceive you becomes your personal brand. How do you want to be seen? What do you want people to think/know about you? It’s an important question to ask yourself, and then be sure to create that reality. For me, I realized years ago that I like to help people and teams realize success. I embrace it and flourish in it.

To Improve, Keep Trying

I picked up many lessons as a student athlete on the basketball team at Fordham University. Not only did I learn about the value of team from my college years, but I also learned to work hard. Missing that foul shot? Keep shooting! Need to be faster? Keep running! The same holds true in the professional world. You can’t just give up because something is hard, or because you feel like you may be failing. Keep trying! Good things come to those who put the effort in.

It’s OK to Accept Help

No matter who you are, or how hard you try, you can’t do everything alone. Along my journey, there were many people who offered me help, and I learned to take it! No one has all the answers. And that’s okay, because we’re all on the same team.

The Skills and Traits of Successful Leaders in 2022

Read on for four key skills and traits leaders need in order to be successful in 2022 and actionable insights on how to build them.

Read article