March 8, 2018
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

As we celebrate Women leadership in our community, we asked 13 Women Leaders 2 very important questions. Read what they had to say.

HEATHER HAAS

President, Advisa

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
My mother instilled in me the genuine belief that I could do anything in this world if I always surrounded myself with people I could learn from. This has proven to be really incredible advice. At every stage in my career I’ve sought to work with brilliant people respected. Then, I became a sponge, learning all that I could. Now, I’m acutely aware of the opportunity I have to pay that experience forward to others who are making their way.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Create space for questions and conversations. Follow Simon Sinek’s advice and “start with why” before getting to the what and the how. Why is gender parity and inclusion important to our organization? Why is it hard to do? Why should we care? Then, what needs to change? What is at stake? How do we make this a priority? Many smart, capable people have never stopped to consider specifically what the lack of inclusion and parity means for the health and prosperity of their organization. As leaders, it’s our job to create safety and ask the questions that pierce the status quo and provide a glimpse of what’s on the other side.

HOLLY NUSS

Partner, Teplin + Nuss

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
I had an amazing female mentor early in my career who not only taught me the basics but guided me in how to lead a team and grow young employees into a solid support staff. I truly would not be where I am today without this mentor or without the other female CEOs and VPs I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout my career.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Recognize and reward those who are inclusive. You can lead by example but giving your employees the power to be inclusive promotes it across the organization

ELIZABETH LUKAS

CEO, North America, Decoded

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
My family is my biggest motivator. They believe in me when I sometimes don’t and they remind me every day to bring my best to the people around me. My external motivators are amazing women like Sheryl Sandberg, Brene Brown, Ginni Rometti and Beth Comstock. They are great north stars for what an authentic and passionate leader looks like.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Change is always difficult in the beginning, but the diversity of gender, backgrounds, and ideas is the food of innovation. You won’t survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution without it.

CHERYL DURZY

CEO, LibDib

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
Hmmm, one memorable act. That’s tough as it has been about 10 years of experiences that led me to create LibDib, and it was based on the challenges within the industry that our platform is trying to solve. But I think my defining moment to really go for it and start this company was when I had hit rock bottom when it comes to doing sales for my family’s winery. We had gone from 40 distributors to 14 in 5 years. We were finishing up a law suit with our “4th tier” marketing company that didn’t follow through on purchase agreement contracts. I was trying to get new wholesalers and couldn’t even get a call back. I was so frustrated, I took an Uber to an Air Bn B, watched a Netflix movie while waiting for my Doordash delivery. Then I went to sleep on a Casper mattress while reading on my Kindle. If technology could evolve the way people get a cab, book a hotel, watch movies, eat out, sleep and read a book, why couldn’t it help with B to B alcohol distribution? So that was sort of a made up “moment” in time at the Air B n B, but you get my drift, right?


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
If you want your company to be inclusive, you need to walk the walk. Spend some time evaluating. What does the make-up of your company look like? Who are you spending time with? Who and how are you mentoring. What is the make-ups of individual departments? If you don’t like what you see, then make some changes.

JOANNE MORETTI

SVP, CMO, Jabil

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
My path to the CMO of a Fortune 500 company wasn’t from an “agency” per se; I came up the ranks through software engineering, sales, product marketing and then marketing. What that did for me was completely open my eyes and put me in direct line of sight to customers and their problems. What I’m going to say is: If you are in marketing and haven’t done sales … go do it for a year! That kind of learning and getting close to customers, as well as business in general, is worth its weight in gold.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
I would guide them to focus on education and the skills gap we face as a society. While STEM related jobs pay almost twice as much as other professions, we are still having a difficult time attracting both women and men into these professions. If we plan to have billions of internet connected devices by 2020, autonomous vehicles, cities that think and are smart and efficient, hospitals and patient care that’s in a much better state than it is today, we need to get our butts in gear, and get kids taking STEM courses in college. With over 60% of CEOs surveyed in a recent survey projecting that up to 50% of their income will come from technology enabled income, my question is, who is going to drive that innovation, if we can’t find people today? Who is going to change the world and make all these dreams a reality? Inclusion isn’t a goal; it’s a necessity.

During my career I have worked for, with and alongside many men. While I’ve never felt any difference in the way I was treated by them, I certainly felt outnumbered, which is partly why I started to reach out and rally other women together. In some business sectors, there are blatant gaps in pay, titles and roles. In others, there is no ceiling and women have ample opportunities to attain leadership roles. Personally, I never felt the ceiling or if there was one, I crashed through it! For that reason, among others, I do my part to mentor and nurture women professionals so they have the confidence to become the leaders I know they can be. My goal is to inspire 1 million women to consider STEM-based careers or further their development in their chosen professions. The number may sound daunting, but I think it’s achievable.

For the past several years, I have served as editor-in-chief of “The Butterfly” blog, a social digest for business women that features the latest stories on inspirational women in business and STEM-related businesses. I truly believe that the small things, including women-focused communities and mentoring opportunities, can make a huge difference in pushing the envelope in a positive and constructive way on behalf of both businesses and the women who support their success.

KAYLENE MOSS

VP Global Talent Management

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
My first real job out of college had me working for “the worse boss” you could ever imagine. He believed in the art of intimidation as an excellent management method and I have to say he was very good at it. I was young and naïve and spent many moments in the bathroom crying. I really felt like I was a nothing and he was this big powerful leader of a major brokerage company. I finally had enough courage to leave that role and I vowed to myself that I would never be intimidated by someone like that again. I believe that has allowed me to be my authentic self and actually flourish with increased self-confidence. I think of that situation and even though it was rough for me, I gained so much insight on leadership and myself.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Lead by example. All the D&I initiatives and corporate speak are nice but unless the CEO are willing to actually do it and make the change starting with their organization and the BOD, it wont happen.

KIRSTEN FISHER

Founder + CEO, Imagine Home Organization

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
I worked for two decades in a male dominated field and while I rose successfully through the ranks, I was never able to achieve the level of leadership responsibility I sought. The best thing I have ever done was to start my own business, in a completely different field, doing what I love. I am so energized by the service we offer to truly help people and the potential to grow this small business into something big!


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
CEOs need to be open to change in their hiring, motivating and mentoring practices to find unique talent and then foster an environment that allows those voices to be heard. We need to allow our employees to challenge us and sometimes say – OK, let’s try that! And then get on board to really make it work.

CHARLOTTE CHIPPERFIELD

Founder + CEO, Chipperfield Media

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that you can only grow your business as much as you grow yourself. There have been two significant acts I’ve taken in order to grow professionally and to the grow my company. The first is mindset. Getting clear on my goals, feeling fear and taking strategic action anyways, has helped me build confidence, (including charging what I’m worth). Secondly, surrounding myself with like-minded business women has been huge in helping me not only feel less alone, but has been a great community for sharing resources, ideas, and support along the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.

BETH SIMONETTI

EVP, CHRO, Tech Data

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
I was fortunate to have a couple really terrific bosses, early in my career and they inspired me to push myself and allowed me the opportunity to make decisions, make mistakes and learn from them. I realized that I had a voice at the table and I better use it!


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Start with an internal assessment….define and educate what inclusion means. It’s more than diversity. You can have a diverse population but if you don’t include those factions of diversity at the decision making table – you don’t have inclusion. The CEO should start with himself! I love this quote but don’t know where it’s originally from….”Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

DANA LANDIS

Head of Leadership Assessments, Google

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
In my role as head of executive assessment for a talent consulting firm, I worked very closely with leadership teams across a broad range of industries and regions. In that role I was able to see how senior management teams and Boards of Directors tackled some of their most challenging organizational issues. Witnessing how gender dynamics played out in those scenarios helped me understand where diverse perspectives play a critical role in helping orgs tackle tough issues and take action. Witnessing that firsthand helped me trust my voice and my contribution, even around leaders far more experienced than I was, and solidified my faith in the power of diverse teams.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
I am a believer in critical mass. To really benefit from the full range of perspectives that diverse teams bring to the table, it is critical to move past tokenism and ensure that women and people from underrepresented groups are not working in isolation. Make sure teams are balanced, and that organizational culture and values are evolving to mirror a broader range of styles, priorities and perspectives.

CECILE BARE

VP, Bank of Tampa

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
The amazing corporate culture at The Bank of Tampa, which is a culture of caring and first and foremost making the Bank a good place for the employees to work so that they will in turn provide the best service to our clients. The Bank has been supportive of me and behind me to finish my education and obtain my Certified Financial Planner credentials in order to further my growth— and has rewarded my work and dedication by providing me with great advancement opportunities along the way. I am celebrating 19 years with The Bank of Tampa this month!


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Don’t neglect your Women! Women are driven, hard-working and dedicated, and bring great attributes to the table, such as their nurturing nature.

LAUREN FERNANDEZ

SVP, Bank of Tampa

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
Awhile back I had a boss who was an awful leader. He put others down, asked his staff to complete ridiculous tasks outside of their normal scope of work, and was feared by many due to his erratic behavior. He motivated me to learn different management styles and ultimately find one that fits me and my organization. I’m a better leader today based on the experience of working for him and I continue to hone my skills in that area as I always want to inspire and develop others.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Focus on results. We are all aiming to make our organizations stand out, perform better, be more inclusive, and overall successful. Have decisions surrounding personnel be results oriented and the inclusion piece will quickly follow. If we reward and promote top performers without discrimination or preconceived notions, the organization will thrive.

ELLIE FINEHOUT

Chief Sales Officer, Modern Business Associates

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
In my eighteen years at MBA, I advanced from an hourly associate to the Chief Sales Officer. The pivotal moment in my career occurred five years into my tenure when we increased our worksite employee count by nearly 50% in a single quarter. I stepped up to the challenge of coordinating all of our departments as we on-boarded new clients and thousands of new worksite employees. This required a deep understanding of all our internal processes and navigating our system capabilities and its limitations. Most importantly, I honed my ability to identify other talented Team Members throughout the company and utilize their unique skill sets. As a leader at MBA, I am adept at troubleshooting issues and pinpointing those individuals who can move us forward.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Organizations need to demonstrate their commitment to developing women leaders. This includes promoting women to leadership positions and creating a sustainable pipeline of future women leaders in your organization.

ANDREA DERLER

Associate Vice President, Research Execution, HR and Talent Research at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

What has been the one memorable act or experience that has either encouraged, motivated or gave you the confidence to rise to the top of your profession?
I come from a very old family business in Austria. The business was founded by my grand-grandfather in 1903, survived 2 World Wars and is currently run by my mother. I grew up listening to my family members talking about business and leadership issues on the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, and worked in the business for 6 years myself as branch manager.

It was not a single event that created the fascination in business leadership in me. Rather, I experienced every day for almost 20 years how leaders impact employees and other stakeholders, and the impact this has on organizational outcomes. My passion for studying leadership has been unbroken ever since, and my intent is not to be an “expert” (leadership is way too complex to ever fully grasp its dynamics in my eyes), but to continue to spark new thinking and discover leading practices.


What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer organizations or CEOs looking to change nature of inclusion in their organization?
Communicate, communicate, communicate the importance of inclusion for you and your organization at every opportunity. Make it part of every public talk to highlight how the organization embraces inclusion, and more importantly, what it looks and feels like for people in the company. For example, T-Mobile has been driving the culture of inclusion and celebration of diversity by making it official on their website (https://tmobile.careers/diversity-and-inclusion), and their top leaders and CEO are very visible about their involvement in all kinds of events that emphasize D&I.

Building any type of culture requires time, consistency, and the ability for introspection by top leaders: are we doing enough? What do we hear from our employees? Are we acting upon what they say? Am I an example for the culture I want to drive? How are we handling people who oppose our values? Questions like these should be asked at regular intervals at the executive levels to make sure it starts to stick.