The spring Advancing Women in Business networking event was held at the MSU Management Education Center in Troy, MI, hosted by the Broad College of Business. Women with connections to the Broad College came together to network and gain powerful insights from a panel of female leaders. Some also arrived early to attend a workshop led by Jane Evarian, associate director, Career Management and Employee Relations at the Broad College. Panelists included Lisa Beck (BA Financial Administration ’89), finance executive in Sales and Marketing at General Motors, Angie Kelly (BA Accounting ’98), office managing partner at Ernst & Young LLP, and Pam Sanborn (MBA ’16), plan president at Molina Healthcare of Illinois.
The panelists engaged in a lively Q&A with attendees and candidly answered questions with experiences from their own professional and personal lives.
Big topics that were addressed included the challenges women face in the workplace when they want to advance in their career and, in general, as working moms. The women in attendance left with new insights to help them manage their careers.
In one discussion topic, attendees learned that women are usually more modest and cautious than men; however, this can cause them to be overlooked for advancement within a company. “I don’t like to sit around and talk about what I’m doing. But you have to because if you don’t you could be overlooked and someone who is louder than you could get the job that you want,” said Beck.
Panelists also shared that it’s important to take time at work to reflect on accomplishments, to be less modest and brag about themselves and the great work that they do and how they contribute to the team when the annual review comes around or a position that you want to apply for opens. Instead of trying to remember everything you did when the time comes, be proactive. “Every month go back to your calendar and go, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I’ve sat on this project, we implemented this.’ You remember at the time the value of it, what changed, the ROI on different things. Just write things down,” said Sanborn.
Women and men are all playing a game in the workplace, but currently, play by a different set of rules. One of the most common examples of this is working moms. Not too long ago, most women didn’t come back to work from maternity leave. Now, however, the climate has shifted significantly.
“Growing up in my career; I had two small girls, I was on the manger potential list and had challenging jobs with lots of requirements. I had daycare pickup, drop off, and my and my husband’s careers It was hard, I will admit it was hard. What I learned is to communicate with your boss or leader … where you are in your life and that you’re going to get the job done,” said Beck.
Kelly added that flexibility is very important in helping parents, both mothers and fathers, as they navigate life and try to manage a work/life balance. “In this day and age, with technology, you’ll actually work harder if you do whatever it is you need to do and be where you need to be and then go home and get online later and finish whatever it is,” said Kelly.
Sanborn mentioned to expect stalls in your career if you are a parent who takes off time to be at home with your kids, “When I look back, I probably could have made different choices. Putting career a little first before my kids or something else, maybe I would have gotten here faster, ” said Sanborn. “But I’m not sure I would have been happy with myself. I think we put more pressure on ourselves. We’re raising human beings, you have a family.”
Each speaker gave parting wisdom at the end of the panel discussion.
“Really look out for each other … To the extent you can help each other as peers. Be happy when someone’s promoted. Really help network and reach out if you can help someone in their job, or mentor someone. The more we help each other we’re just all going to rise,” said Beck.
“Do a little less talking and really listen. Observe. You’ll learn a lot … Sometimes listening is better than speaking,” said Sanborn.
“I would encourage you to intentionally network, which you’re doing right now … Just take the time to have lunch with a colleague that you don’t see every day or someone that’s in a different department that you might be interested in. I think it will pay dividends,” said Kelly.
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