Sylvia Ann Hewlett: 'I got away from class distinctions'
3 July 2014 Last updated at 18:30 BST
You might have the brains, work hard and be good at what you do, but you could still stumble on the career ladder if you don't have what one Welsh-born economist, author and consultant calls "executive presence."
Sylvia Ann Hewlett heads up the US-based think-tank Center for Talent Innovation but has been back in her native Britain.
She grew up in Cwmbran and Croesyceiliog in the 1950s, one of six girls and went to school in Pontypool but had an early ambition to study at Oxbridge..
"As a a girl it wasn't clear what you could do in the valleys, it was a pretty bleak place," Hewlett told BBC Wales' Wales At Work programme.
She tells BBC Wales business correspondent Brian Meechan that class distinctions were one of the reasons she left for the United States - and they still exist.
Listen to the full interview