Tell us who you are!
That is always such a difficult question… you, know? I mean, we are so many “things” and they change and morph as we grow. I am a complex woman who lives in a constant state of “indecision”. A big part of me wants a career- an important career that makes me feel respected, honored, admired and financially successful. I crave the attention – to my detriment at times – because I sacrifice so much to achieve it. That realization can be painful to admit- but it is true. How many conversations have I had with my husband, my son, my sister- from miles, countries away – in different time zones – different worlds – where we discussed this/that – all the while – our lives on very independent planes? It can be emotionally difficult to have a career. I feel that every day.
I am a woman. I am at a point in my 26+ year sales career that finds me stalking an exit strategy. I am afraid. I know that I completely self-identify with my career. With my title. With my income. If I walk away – what will be my value, my self-worth? Hard questions to ask. Even more difficult to answer. My life keeps turning, year / year. I love my work, it leads me and I follow. I am very blessed with an amazing husband who completely supports me in all aspects of life. A good partner in life is essential. My situation is not unique, but my story is my own. To forge a career and family alongside the other is both a universal challenge and a unique experience.
I am also a small town, Southern girl who was raised in a house where education was important, and exposure to the world was through books and television. My family was not sheltered; all are educated and have been successful in life. But, we were not mobile to the point that we ventured out in the world and experienced it. Not beyond near borders of towns and states across the Southern US. Early on I knew I wanted a career that took me out of my immediate environment. My “hometown” just never felt right, it never felt like “home”. My mind always wandered to another place, another city or country. I was smart, intuitive and fearless. At the age of 12, I wrote a letter to the Editor of Harper’s Bazaar and told her that I wanted to work in the Fashion Industry. I wanted to come to New York! What advice could she give me to help me to break away from my world and experience hers? She graciously wrote me a lovely letter with sage words on following my dreams, studying hard and never giving up. I was thrilled to receive it! I had connected! I had engaged something that heretofore had seemed like a dream! That “something”? A name in print. In a magazine. Wrapped in photographs, words, and colors, that mesmerized me. And now, that “something” was real. She was real! It was all real! I knew it to be true. I could connect with that world, all I had to do was reach out. To try. My first epiphany – my first mentor.
At 50 – I am more fearful than I was at 12. Life does that to you. It serves you experiences that teach you boundaries and fear creeps in. I question myself almost daily as to why I am no longer “fearless”? Some might call being fearless- careless or overly confident. That is not what I mean – I would describe it as “in the zone”…. Not taking chances… more like acting on absolute certainty that you would be successful. An intuitive understanding of what you wanted to achieve and reaching it… step by step. To Try. That Zone eludes me now. I am hoping that mentoring will help me to find it again…. I am at my best when helping others.
Tell us more about your career steps and other projects you were part of!
I started my “career” out of necessity. I had always wanted it- but life had taken me down a path of “wife”, “mother” in my early 20’s ( I admit I had something to do with that, I mean, every good Southern Girl I knew got married and let her husband manage the hard stuff, right?)…. Anyway… I was so “not me” in that relationship. And it showed. I wanted to be heard. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be important. And… I wasn’t. Not even in my own home. And well, I reached the end of that chapter. I could no longer live in that situation and chose to leave. I was fearless. I was in my Zone. I was a single mother, 24 and I went to work in business development, in the temporary staffing industry. I worked for three franchise offices of three separate corporate brands. By the age of 30, I had generated over 12 million dollars in revenue for those franchise owners- dramatically increasing the capital value of each of their independent business units and creating the platform for what was ultimately the sale of each franchise back to their respective corporations for millions of dollars in profit, per owner. All were male. Glass ceiling. Yes, it is real. Epiphany #2. What’s in it for me?
I set my sights on the Pharmaceutical Industry. I was in my Zone. From there- my career flourished. All of the “real world” sales experience I had coming into the role, the education I had gained completing my degree and the self-discipline I mastered being a parent, student and employee- took me to ranking #1 in the national sales force in all three products marketed by my company. I was literally on top of my world. I was in my Zone. I moved to a larger organization, launched a key clinical compound in diabetes in the ranks of Sales Leadership, Managed Markets and National Accounts. I won numerous President’s Awards and enjoyed much success across my pharmaceutical career.
In 2008 my father was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. He was 68 years old. I knew that as a type 2 diabetic, his chances of surviving beyond 5 years were slim to none. It was devastating news. At the time, I worked in a directorship role with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. I worked in Oncology. I was very successful. Upon learning of his diagnosis, of course, I wanted to spend time with my family. My career would not allow it. So, I walked away. As fate was on my side, I transitioned into a career in Medical Education, with a focus in Oncology. I immersed myself in this new world and began doing all that I can to better educate the physicians who are treating the sickest of the sick. It has been very rewarding work.
In 2010, my father passed away. I was by his side. I will always cherish the time we had together in his final years- even though the pain of treatment and the realization that his life was coming to an end were daily sorrows to bear. That time was precious to us. I miss him every day.
As a Vice President of Global Business Development, I enjoy work with individuals from many cultures. My mind still wanders from city to city, country to country, I know no borders or time zones. The work that I do is very personal and I face each day with a renewed commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.
What does “Social Capital” mean to you?
To me, the idea of Social Capital works when it is built on real experiences. Genuine knowledge gained through authentic interaction. The 1World Social Capital Program provides a wonderful venue for that type of true relationship development. The complement of professional/personal networking, brokering of introduction and opportunity are natural elements of that relationship that can benefit both mentor and mentee.
What makes you successful in life/current job?
Having the ability to see beyond the “challenge”. Over the years, I have found myself often pulled into projects in the “clutch”. I’ve been asked to sell in the most challenged market, transform the least performing team, cultivate the most difficult relationship, negotiate the most complex contract… the list is long. In all of those situations, I was able to look beyond the negative and focus on what was working. Where were the sales happening, and why? What strengths could be identified among the team? Why was the relationship difficult? How could I simplify the conversation? One step at a time. One person at a time. One answer at a time. It is an art to clear the clutter and focus on the positive! From the most negative of situations, I have accomplished my greatest achievements. My brand.
What is/has been your biggest achievement professionally and personally?
Honestly, it’s not about me. My biggest achievements have been centered on the people that needed me the most. The members of the teams that historically underperformed, who under my leadership, bloomed and now have a legacy of success in that geography, in that market. Watching them walk across the stage, accept their awards and enjoy the success they earned one step at a time. It’s about the talent I identified, brought into the company and helped to progress, grow and reach their career goals. Those individuals and their families and the positives that our work helped to create in their lives. The foundation of success that has catapulted them forward in life. It’s about the example I set for my son, as a single mother juggling life and a career. The work ethic is took to be #1 and his “Mom”, understanding that from his young perspective, that was my title. I could list the accomplishments I have achieved professionally, but it is the people I’ve helped along the way that make it important.
What are your aspirations as a 1World Mentor for the 1World Social Capital Program?
To help women realize that they “can” – whatever that might mean for them, on any given day, in any given circumstance, personal, professional, in life, they “can”…… they just have to try. Put themselves out there and be genuine in their desire to grow.
What can you offer your 1World Mentee?
Honesty – meaning a real life discussion – based on my experience – and knowledge of others’ experiences in how to be the architect of their own life and career. I want to encourage them to have something to say and teach them how to be heard.
What does your ideal 1World Mentee look like?
Someone who understands that life is a process/ but we are not machines… we live, we learn, we grow… Life is an emotional journey and that as women we should stop trying to Not be emotional – we should learn to harness and use that energy to the betterment of our world – to soften the lines a bit. Life is to be lived, not ignored, suppressed or endured. My ideal mentee is interested in real conversation and discussing what is behind her challenges and fears….
What are your aspirations for your 1World Mentee?
To have a genuine growth experience. To never walk away from the relationship – but to grow in it for a lifetime.
Do you believe there is a glass ceiling for young female professionals?
If yes, how can we break it?
Yes. I believe that – historically – the world had been categorically run by men- but, I love men! They are human beings just like us with emotions and aspirations. They can be strong – and supportive – kind and wise and can give women in the workplace strength and advice that can only come from that “male” perspective. Perspective matters, but not at the expense of another – no matter the sex… So – Yes – there is a ceiling – but it is not only perpetuated by men- women have to learn how to be heard. Women have to learn how to not let fear creep in, but to be fearless.