Finding Success Outside Your Comfort Zone

You never know what life will bring you until you're willing to step outside your comfort zone. While it is an action that many of us are oftentimes hesitant to take, Cynthia Ritter ’98 has learned that challenging herself to this seemingly small act has brought great reward.

This personal challenge started while she was a student at Gannon. The accounting major served as Alpha Kappa Psi honorary society treasurer, vice president and president, was a cheerleader for two years and also ran cross-country– something she said she never did prior to her junior year. "I had never run more than a mile in my entire life,"  Ritter said. But she made the choice to join with the goal of bettering her health, which she felt paid off in the end. "The motivation of the team and the coach changed my life."

This mindset carried into her professional life as well. Ritter is the Vice President of Finance at Tyco International, where she delves into tasks, such as working with the CEO and CFO to make investment decisions in the most productive way to achieve the best return on investment. "It’s not just taking a position and working hard, it’s really about taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone. That’s what I try to do with every new role is step outside my comfort zone," said Ritter. Her position at Tyco has also opened opportunities for travel, which she has embraced, spending three years in the Netherlands.

Cynthia Ritter ’98 (Row 1, second student on the left) during the ’97-’98 Cross Country season.

"It was a profoundly life-changing experience, to be honest. The professional experience was fantastic; the job itself was a big promotion for me, so that in itself was exciting," said Ritter. "For a personal experience it was great to be completely immersed in a different culture. I think just that alone really deepened my experience and gave me a very different perspective on life as well as on my job."

"One of the things about my career has been taking big risks," she said. "I try to always challenge myself to be successful and take myself out of my comfort zone, and I apply that philosophy to both my professional and personal life."