News Archive July/August 2014
Women Leaders Thrive in a Man’s World by Being True to Themselves
At the August monthly meeting, Deborah Ferguson, NBC5 Today Co-Anchor, led a panel discussion on the ins and outs of dealing with male-dominated cultures in the workplace. Panelists included Debbie Cooley, owner, MPak Inc,, Jennifer Potts, director of Global Sourcing, Outsourcing and Commodities for Bell Helicopter, Textron, Kalisha Holland, director of Equipment Utilization in Marketing at BNSF Railway Company and Tricia Hatley, P.E., vice president, Freese and Nichols, Inc. More than 80 members and guests attended the meeting at Colonial Country Club.
At Ferguson’s urging, panelists weighed in on their personal perspectives on managing their time, dealing with stereotyping, fighting for fair wages and benefits, selecting mentors and processing feedback and staying true to your own values and personality.
Generational differences emerged as Debbie Cooley, 61, explained her decision to start her own business, MPAK, in 1999. Sexism was more overt and accepted. Cooley decided to leave her sales job where she was leading the company in product sales but was paid 45 percent of her male counterparts’ salary with reduced benefits and perks.
“I was the only woman in sales in my company, and I was leading everyone else in my field,” she said. “My choice was to stay and accept my position or strike out on my own and take my customers with me.”
Other panelists had champions who supported their rise to leadership positions. Potts early on had an opportunity to design a new aircraft leading a team of engineers. ‘My chief engineer was behind me 100 percent,” she said. “Taking a risk and accepting a high visibility, high reward position taught me many skills.”
Hatley worked her way up through the ranks at Freese and Nichols. She was hired at 22 to bring new skills to the company, but she found she had to learn the old methods first. “I was patient and used my differences to my advantage, “she said.
“Women should network and my commitment to being home with my children in the evenings has inhibited me. My advice to young women is to make this part of your work life a priority,” Hatley said.
Holland agreed: “Your mentors don’t have to look like you. They can be members of organizations outside your company who have specific skills you need help developing. It’s amazing how enriching these relationships can be.”
Potts likes to have accountability partners, “people who give me blunt criticism and critiques, as well as praise that fills me up with good feelings about myself.”
In conclusion, when asked about the impact of the book, “Leaning In”, on their work lives, none felt it had anything really new to say or they didn’t bother reading it at all.
“My takeaways from this book were twofold: Have a voice that adds value and don’t be afraid to be your true self,” said Holland.
In conclusion, all panelists agreed that to be or not to be a woman was secondary to being successful and moving up the ranks. The real key to success in business is to be capable, smart, fearless and self-confident. In the end, these are the traits of a leader.
July Social Event at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
More than 40 Forum members and guests attended a summer social event and movie screening at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on July 17.