Published On Mar 17, 2021  
in  Leadership & Development and PECO Culture

Cassandra Burnham joined PECO in 1997 and, over the years, has experienced a wealth of opportunities to learn and grow. Currently serving as Associate Vice President of Communications, Cassandra began her career with PECO as an administrative assistant where she was able to learn the ropes of the business and eventually grow into the role of Acquisitions Analyst and then Finance Coordinator. In the early 2000’s, Cassandra moved into a work-from-home role as a Lease Abstractor. When PECO University was launched, her degree in secondary education (English) led her to volunteer to help set the programming and she eventually earned the title of Director of Learning Services. Throughout all of these roles, Cassandra frequently assisted the company and its leadership team with communications needs and, in 2016, she followed her passion for all things communications to become a part of the Marketing Team as Director of Internal Communications. She was promoted to Associate Vice President of Communications in 2019.

Cassandra has been a member of PECO NOW (Networking Opportunities for Women) since its inception, serving on the Support Committee and the Advocacy and Awareness Committee. She currently serves on the Advisory Board as Chair. She was also instrumental in establishing PECO Community Partnership and is a member of PECO MORE (Multicultural Opportunities, Resources and Education). She also helped establish the PECO Culture Award, the TAE Innovation Award and the Good Neighbor Award programs.  She was a 2017 recipient of the Culture Award. She is also active as AVP of Operations with The Edison Foundation, which provides scholarship opportunities to the children, grandchildren, dependents and spouses of Phillips Edison associates.

We asked Cassandra to share a bit about her journey and what advice she would give to others starting out in their careers.

What advice would you give to working women? 
Always be on the lookout for new opportunities – and pursue them. Remember that often, your ideas, innovative thinking and passion will give you a chance to create those opportunities for yourself (don’t be afraid to do it!). Challenge yourself and continuously seek new skills and knowledge that will keep you growing both personally and professionally. But keep in mind that no one will make you learn new things, take on new roles or stretch for your goals – you must be internally motivated and action-oriented. Know your own priorities and understand that they may change yearly, weekly or even daily – and adjust accordingly. Finally, never lose sight of your own well-being both physically and mentally. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be any good to yourself or anyone else.

What was your biggest mistake and how did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake was believing that the plan I set at age 21 for my career (and really my life) was set in stone. Things change – life happens. Being inflexible about your plans and goals is setting the stage for frustration. I don’t know how many times over the years I said to my mom or my friends, “This isn’t how I planned things.” I learned over time that being open to new possibilities, continuing to learn new things and being willing to change are invaluable traits that not only save you from a lot of unnecessary stress  but often open new doors to even better places than you ever imagined.

What is your favorite quote or advice you’ve received?
My favorite quote has been attributed to a many different people in different variations, but essentially it is: You can’t control everything, not the people around you or often situations and circumstances – but you can always control how you respond and your attitude. That’s where your power is. I think of that often when I’m facing decisions or problems in life. It’s a good reminder that you always have a choice in how you respond to things, and how you perceive them. Often choosing those two things wisely can make all the difference. 

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