I began my career with Sun Microsystems and was paired with a few senior Account Managers. I was also assigned a mentor who was a veteran marketing executive making her debut in sales, Shannon Bradley. I remember Shannon as sharp, fast and wildly successful. She was super-creative, and I watched her do amazing things, that the other more senior people couldn’t quite do. As this was my first job, I just thought she was spectacular. To me that was powerful and I wanted to learn how to do that.
I started managing people in 2005 and recall my first ever hire was female. I had several other women who joined the team shortly after, Anna Thomsen and Shelly Seeger. I remember how much the dynamic changed as my team was 40% female. By 2008, we were the top team in the world. Powerful.
The concept of powerful was the attraction…notice I didn’t say power. I love leading teams (powerful), but don’t crave the authority (power). It is an important distinction, as that subtle difference drives leaders one direction or completely another. One of the most powerful women in leadership, Myrna Soto demonstrated how to gracefully leverage her talent to transform an otherwise, traditional organization – something the predominantly male organization couldn’t accomplish. Another powerful woman I learned a tremendous amount about leadership from was Paulette Scheffer. During our time working together, I watched her lead a corporate wide transformation, while fully in control and with a perfect leadership posture – Ruthless Standardization! It is not that either of these ladies were driven by the power, but their leadership was powerful and moved otherwise, unmovable organizations. In 2012, I married a powerful woman that was my worthy adversary in every way. Every day, I get challenged personally, professionally and intellectually. In 2013, my Latin American team added its first ever female to the leadership team. In 2014, one of the brightest young women that I hired into her first Account Manager role only a few years earlier, Aline Brasil, became the top Account Manager in Latin America.
I have had the good fortune to begin my career and leadership experience surrounded by powerful women, and consequently, as a natural behavior, proceeded to have teams that were nearly 50% women. For me, that was not ever a goal or a focus. I want to say that it was me being blind, but would never want to minimize the tremendous sacrifice that women make to survive and thrive in today’s world. In many cases, what we don’t see is how they may have worked twice as hard to even be given the opportunity to be in any of the of the above positions I mentioned. Something is not right about that!
For every woman, who gave up or placed her career on pause to stay home and children – from the bottom of my heart, I thank you! Thank you for looking after our next generation. Thank you for making the personal sacrifice that most men may never fully understand. Thank you for supporting your families. My mom, Heather Klenner, was one of these women, who put her career on hold for 20 years to make certain my sister, brother and I had the best possibility of success in this world. I am forever grateful for the gift of her sacrifice.
I can go on and on about the successes that I have seen with the extraordinary women that I have had the privilege of working with, known and interacted with over the years. In fact, I can probably write an article on men that says nearly the same thing — but that’s the point! That’s at the very foundation of gender parity. I say foundation, because this is a much bigger topic and I am not the right person to go deeper on that, however I am in a position where I can make a difference, both in my words and my behavior. My life and my career have been drastically impacted and influenced by powerful women and I am who I am because of the sum total of all of my experiences; equally with men and women.
We need to embrace women, amplify women, promote women…in a similar way we have done for men for many years. Maybe someday this won’t be a conversation because we’ll evolve into a truly balanced culture where the best person for the job gets hired, regardless of the gender, race, creed or otherwise.
It makes me proud to work for a company where nearly half our leadership team are women. I love working at a company that has a wide ethnic diversity across all functions, like we do. I love working for a company that leads. Always.
Leadership comes in many forms.
Whether you are in a corporate environment, managing at home, or something else, to all of the women that make an impact on the world, your spouse, your children, your career and society, both domestic and abroad, Happy International Woman’s Day 2018!
#PressforProgress #InternationalWomansDay2018 #IWD2018