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By Lauren Simpson
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  • Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • Communication
Women's basketball alumna Spencer Lane '13 exudes confidence in everything that she does. This confidence isn't just a personality trait for Lane, but rather, a guiding principle of how she lives her life.

However, Lane's radiating confidence wasn't inherent from a young age. Instead, it was something that was learned, something that was impressed upon her at Cornell, where she graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

It just so happened that Lane's time on the Cornell women's basketball team was what helped her realize how confident in her abilities she should be. Dayna Smith, The Rebecca Quinn Morgan '60 Head Coach of Women's Basketball, and assistant coach Val Klopfer were catalysts in Lane's transformation.

"One of the biggest things I look back on at Cornell, and that I learned from both Coach Smith and Coach K, was just coming in with confidence," said Lane. "I wasn't the most confident player my freshman year, but when I left Cornell, my confidence was so much stronger. They really instilled that in me."

Smith and Klopfer's constant belief in Lane helped build her up, and not just into the strong woman that she is today, but into one of the top point guards in Big Red women's basketball history.

A team captain as a senior, Lane ended her career ranked eighth all-time at Cornell in assists (284), a mark which still ranks 10th today. She was a skilled distributor of the basketball, finishing her senior season atop the Ivy League in both assists (4.1 apg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) and dishing out at least 100 helpers in each of her final two campaigns.

Lane's confidence on the court as her career progressed was undeniable, and when it came time to enter the professional world, it wasn't a question that she would maintain that same level of belief in herself.

"As I turned that corner into a full-time job, I wasn't going to go in at the start and not be confident again," said Lane. "Even if I don't know exactly what I'm doing, I have to trust myself and my abilities and be confident."

After graduating from Cornell with a bachelor's degree in Applied Economics and Management, Lane embarked on what would be a successful seven-year career at Google. She started out as a Digital Account Strategist, consulting with small- and medium-sized businesses and helping them strategize how to best-utilize their digital advertising. But Lane wouldn't stay in that role for long, using what she learned at Cornell to quickly advance through the ranks.

"I took pretty much any opportunity that I could, and that was a big part of what I learned in college, which is taking advantage of every opportunity and getting my foot in as many doors as I could," said Lane. "That allowed me to progress my career pretty quickly at Google."

Lane ultimately landed the title of Senior Account Executive for Large Client Sales. Instead of assisting "Mom and Pop stores" with their digital advertising needs, she was now part of a team that was leading the strategy for the top 10 automotive groups in the nation. The jump that Lane made was substantial, but if anyone had the confidence to make such a leap, it was her.

"If you think about starting with small- and medium-sized businesses who have budgets of maybe a couple thousand dollars each year, to ultimately managing 100 million dollars of Google advertising spend, that's really the big trajectory and where I jumped from," said Lane.

Last week, Lane took the next step in her already-impressive career, starting a job with Automotive Management Services, Inc. (AMSI) as their Director of Digital. What makes this especially ground-breaking is that Lane now becomes the first African-American woman to hold this role within the company.

"Being able to be the first African-American director for this company is a big feat, and it means a lot," said Lane. "I'm going into it excited about the opportunity, knowing that I'm forging new steps."

As someone who values being her authentic self just as much as exhibiting confidence, being a minority and holding a director role becomes even more special for Lane. Not only is it a milestone accomplishment for Lane herself, but it's meaningful for those that follow behind her as well.

"Representation matters a ton," said Lane. "Just seeing someone who looks like you in the position that you may want to fulfill allows you to feel like you have a better chance of getting there and makes it seem all the more tangible."

Although Lane may not have known it at the moment, the confidence that her time on the Cornell women's basketball team taught her has had a positive trickle-down effect on multiple aspects of her life. Her confidence allowed her to have a standout basketball career at Cornell. Her confidence propelled her to a successful career at Google and now one at AMSI. And finally, her confidence has allowed her to be in a position to inspire others to not only believe in themselves, but be their true selves.

"I don't always have to know everything, but what I do know, I know to be confident in myself about," said Lane. "That was one of the biggest things I learned at Cornell."

This article originally appeared on CornellBigRed.com

Header image: Spencer Lane '13 (right) played for Cornell's women's basketball team and graduated with a degree in applied economics and management. Photo courtesy of Cornell Athletics.

Lauren Simpson is the assistant director of athletic communications for Cornell University Athletics & Physical Education.

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