Women, surely you are in the driver's seat to make or break your career. And while you can find progressive companies, mentors and sponsors to lend a hand and support your progress, I would not count on these alone for your success. Every woman needs to pursue effective career advancement strategies on her own to move up the success ladder. Here are some recommendations:

1. Specialize

This lays the foundation for your career. One of the most critical strategies for success is to develop credibility through developing a unique expertise. What differentiates you? Consider a specialty degree in your field, which will increase your knowledge and make you stand out from the pack. At the same time, you need to take care that your expertise doesn’t lock you into a single area, which could hold back your advancement. Think of having sequential specialties so after 10-15 years, you have a varied portfolio.

2. MBA

Most chief executives today see having an MBA as a path to top leadership.

MBA programs offer the opportunity to develop your leadership skills, critical and strategic thinking, and communication skills. They also provide instruction on how to read and manage a profit and loss statement — essential if you see your future self as running an operation or business. You’re likely to have the chance to think about business on a global scale. Another benefit touted by MBA grads: you build personal and business friendships that will serve you for the rest of your life.

3. Executive leadership training

The past two decades have spawned a surfeit of women’s leadership programs. Most are three to six days in length. They can be five-figures pricey, but participants rave about the opportunities for business case problem solving, leadership development, managing crises and even personal brand-building. Most are interactive and experiential, and women who attend often remain in each other’s networks.

4. Negotiation training

Women often aren’t good negotiators for themselves. Don’t let yourself be a “managerial bargain” even in your first job. Get trained in how to negotiate; there are specific techniques women should know. Your company won’t teach you this, so look outside at programs like at UCal San Diego, which offers a Women in Negotiation Certificate.

5. Developing executive presence

Some of us come by it naturally, but we all can use some pointers on how to exude the confidence and compassion of a leader. Your company may offer such training or point you to individual coaches.