“She Suite” Panel Discussion

Last month Washington University hosted a “She Suite” panel discussion on International Women’s Day. Following is a summary of the sage advice from the female C-Suite leaders in business who are also Washington University Executive MBAs:

BEING DIVERSE

Proactively inclusive companies outperform those taking a more passive approach. If your company is not there, it will require a culture shift. The tone must be set from the top.

As a leader in your organization it is your job to ask the questions, “have you thought about … “ when developing, hiring and promoting employees. At any level it’s our responsibility to address non-inclusive comments or omissions. Call it out respectively during the meeting, or after one-on-one, but do not let it slide.

BEATING CHALLENGES

Use the health and abilities that you have. Don’t regret what you don’t have.

Get to know yourself well. Recognize where you can improve and continually work on it.

Always ask for feedback. Continually ask your colleagues and teams you work with, “Help me understand what I don’t have.”

GOALS & BALANCE

Set out to continually learn and grow and your career path will take you far.

Get the formal and informal education and skills of what is needed to be considered.

Have the confidence that your voice can, and should, be heard at the table.

Balance changes on the day. Balance is not equally distributed over a given day or even a week. Know that every day will be different. Sometimes “A” is the priority and others it’s “B.” Rely on the resources you have to help you keep the balance. They are capable. You don’t have to do it all.

DECISION MAKING

Learning agility is key. Get to know yourself and read the signs on what a good learning opportunity is or is not for you. If you have a feeling of “dread,” it’s a “no go.” If you have a bit of fear, it’s likely a great opportunity for growth.

When we are younger we want to say “yes” to everything, but “no” is many times the best answer for all involved. If you can’t make a real difference or something doesn’t align with your goals, say no, and say it quickly. Just be honest about why you’re saying no. People will understand.

The esteemed Panelists

While the panel was highly diverse in their backgrounds and personal communication styles, they all seemed to have some of the same admirable qualities:  honesty, grit, always looking to improve themselves and others.

  • Rebecca Boyer, Chief Financial Officer, KellyMitchell Group, Inc.; EMBA alumna
  • Andrea Faccio Chief Marketing Officer, Nestle Purina North America; EMBA alumna
  • Linda Haberstroh President, Phoenix Textile Corporation; EMBA alumna
  • Mary Heger Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Ameren Services Company; EMBA alumna
  • Deborah Slagle Senior Vice President, Biologics Technology Cluster, MilliporeSigma; EMBA alumna
  • Joyce Trimuel, Chief Diversity Officer, CNA Insurance; EMBA alumna