The Value Proposition is ecstatic to have Julie Mullins, MBA ’12 guest blogging this week about a professional development event featuring one the Smith School’s most accomplished alumni, Lisa Anders, MBA ’95:
It’s no secret that women have a history of being minorities in leading business roles. According to Catalyst, women in the US collect nearly 60% of the four-year degrees, but hold around 14% of senior executive positions at Fortune 500 companies. However, on Friday February 10, the Women Leading Women event was held at Smith to celebrate just the opposite.
With energetic and confident words from the evening’s moderator, Dr. Joyce Russell, to the encouraging life stories of Lisa Anders (Smith MBA ’95), the evening had an undeniably positive vibe. As women flooded Frank Auditorium from all over Maryland, DC, and Virginia, whatever feelings of the week’s pressures were lifted after embracing the enthusiasm of the room.
Lisa Anders was inspirational, to say the least. Her words touched a chord with me as she spoke of following her passion in life. As a little girl, Lisa had a dream of working in construction. Despite this being a male-dominated industry, she followed that passion to the job she currently holds as the VP of Business Development for McKissack and McKissack. It is here that she works on large, meaningful projects such as her most prolific role as the Senior Project Manager for the recently completed Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
A few key takeaways that Lisa provided to break through the glass ceiling:
- There are many differing personalities in the workplace. Take the time to listen to and understand each individual to properly tailor your message. This earns respect regardless of the audience.
- Seek out projects and opportunities that interest you. You can do this by fostering relationships and making key personnel aware of your interests/focuses/goals.
- Don’t ever shy away from your dreams. Don’t settle for less just because you think society says one thing or another about the path you have chosen. Lisa liked building. She could have shied away from the construction industry because it is a male-dominated industry. Instead, she has added diversity to the field, which brings about new strengths, skills, and ideas.
The night was completed with a wine and cheese networking reception, providing the opportunity to meet and chat with new faces, bringing together the area’s current and future leading women. This was an inaugural event, but the 200 women and men (but let’s be honest, it was mostly women) who attended can attest to the fact that it should be a lasting tradition at the Smith School.
To see it for yourself, watch the video of the event.