Take Ownership

My True Story

During my co-op, I was given the exciting task of compiling a headcount report for the VP/CIO. After hours of analyzing Excel data and putting together those lovely pivot charts, I came up with something pretty significant and sent it off to my team lead to look over and send off.

The next day, my supervisor came to my desk and asked me why a particular group had such high numbers. After taking a second look, I realized that number was definitely wrong, though it had been pulled from the most recent data we got.

It turns out that the report had already been sent to the VP/CIO and I was in quite a panic. Immediately, I went back in and redid the entire report; which took a long time and I ended up staying overtime… but it had to be done properly, and I wasn’t going to leave until I got the right numbers and found out where I went wrong.

Finally, I found the root of the problem and generated a new report with revised numbers and sent it off to my team lead explaining why the initial numbers were stated as such, what I revised/corrected, and that I took full responsibility for the error; and if the VP/CIO had any questions or concerns, he could speak with me directly.

My Learnings

My team lead sent it over saying we had new numbers and fortunately, the VP/CIO overlooked the mistake without saying anything! My supervisor commended me for taking full responsibility for the situation and correcting it as soon as it was identified. Even though I was a co-op student, I did not believe in cowering below my supervisor/team lead and having them “protect” me (though I am sure they would have because I lacked experience). Instead, I did what was right in my eyes, and it proved my professionalism.

The Least You Need to Know:

  • If you make a mistake, address it immediately
  • Apologize for the mistake and take corrective action
  • Identify how the mistake occurred and implement preventative precautions
  • Don’t do it again 

It’s okay to make a mistake once, but learn from it and never do it again.

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