On Tuesday, March 16, we continued our Titans of Industry series with an event featuring our all-women executive team. Michelle Mills Clement, CEO, Nykea Pippion McGriff, President, Antje Gehrken, President-Elect, Sarah Ware, Treasurer, and Tammy Hajjar Miller, Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman, led a discussion on leadership, overcoming barriers and more. Here are the top takeaways from the event:
#1: The Importance of Volunteering
These women have all been volunteering for most of their careers, and they credit their success today to taking that first step into volunteerism. What led them to make the leap?
“[Being in our industry] It’s like being a sponge… at some point, you have to give something out. The more you give, the more you get. Volunteerism is that for me. It only enhances what I do,” Antje said.
Sarah credits volunteering for expanding her network locally, statewide and nationally, as well as encouraging her to grow through professional development.
“I wanted to align with the best,” Tammy said of why she first got involved. Now, she says, she wants to remain an example to other women who are looking to female leaders for inspiration.
Nykea got involved to make a difference, she said. “I decided to get involved to make a change. No one chatted with me about committee work, so I sought it out.”
#2: Inspire and Lift Others Up Too
As she stated above, no one spoke with Nykea about volunteering opportunities. When she first wanted to get started, she felt alone even though she had the desire to get involved. Today, to ensure no one else feels the way she did, she goes out of her way to introduce herself to new people and ask them if there’s anything she can do to help them.
Sarah is focused on finding her replacement. She wants to fill the table with people who look like her so we, as an organization and an industry, aren’t continuously counting the first, second, third and so on when it comes to leadership.
#3: It’s Okay to Create Boundaries
Does work-life balance exist for these leaders? If it does, what does it look like? How are they taking care of themselves? As they shared their tried-and-true tips to “balance” their personal and professional commitments, it all centered on a common focus: boundaries.
Tammy said she schedules everything in her calendar. Even her kids know that sometimes, they may need to reserve time on her schedule to truly get time with her. When she is pulled in so many different directions, her time is precious, and the only way she can ensure she makes time for what matters is to block it out on a literal schedule.
The other leaders also practice similar scheduling, but maybe not as strict as Tammy’s approach. Nykea says there is one thing she never compromises on and it is one uninterrupted hour each day with her son, Artie. During this time, Artie gets Nykea’s full attention, and she does not allow anything else to distract her. Sarah echoed this, saying her Sundays are always for her family, so she can ensure she gets ample time for those who are most important to her.