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    • 04/15/2018 5:03 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)

      Woman of Substance

      A woman of substance is a woman of power, a woman of positive influence and a woman of meaning. To be branded a woman of substance is one of the greatest compliments one can give a woman.  You don’t have to be famous to be considered a woman of substance, you just need to create your own unique presence.

      We honor the life and times of Betty Doyle


      The photo (circa 1975) is Betty Doyle receiving an award from the Director of Personnel, Norm Perlberg, for her work at the Defense Intelligence Agency where she was the coordinator of the Federal Women’s Program. 

      Elizabeth Mahan Doyle died April 5, 2018 at the age of 95.  She was an Electronics Engineer/Intelligence Analyst and a strong proponent for women in the engineering field long before STEM was an "industry."

      She served as a Physicist in the Bureau of Ships, Navy Department from 1944 to 1948, where she became an Electronics Engineer.  Her assignments included tours of duty in the Direction Finder Design Section, the Infrared and Ultraviolet Passive Detection Systems Design Branch and the Radar Design Branch.  In 1956 she transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency, working as an Electronics Analyst in the Headquarters Electronics Intelligence Processing Center where she interpreted signals intercepted by the famous U-2 missions.  While there, Betty Doyle earned a special award from the National Security Agency for her classified reports on the Soviet Surface-to-Air Missile Radar.  This work led to the successful design of electronic countermeasure systems.

      In 1963, Betty Doyle moved to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) where she conducted special studies to identify radar signal collection requirements and to determine how successful the airborne collections missions were in satisfying these requirements for both the Air Force and Navy.  In 1971 she was appointed to be the Federal Women’s Coordinator for DIA in addition to her responsibilities as an Electronic Engineer/Intelligence Analyst. In this capacity she was the ombudsman for all of DIA’s female employees.  If there was a problem she had a stable of generals and admirals that she could work with to address the issue.  Needless to say, this didn’t earn her a spot on some individual’s Valentine’s Day Card Lists.  But she was committed to see that all women in DIA were treated fairly, properly, and with the respect that they deserved as professionals. 

      Betty Doyle was a tremendous role model and a pioneer for women.  We honor her work and the path she carved for women in the STEM fields and the workplace.

    • 04/15/2018 4:54 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)


      Role models are important in developing a career path.  In this section we present women who have achieved high levels of success and influence in their career and personal life.  They are committed to women's leadership issues and helping others through mentoring and sponsorships and are truly great role models.


      Martha Boudreau

      EVP, AARP

      Martha Boudreau is AARP’s chief communications & marketing officer and is a leader in the communications industry.  She brings a wealth of expertise in national and international communications strategies with previous roles as president of the mid-Atlantic region and Latin America for FleishmanHillard, a leading global communications consulting firm. As a member of the global management committee, she was a key figure in growing the firm’s presence in the Middle East and its expansion into Latin America. Martha has also represented FleishmanHillard at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and was an active participant in regional WEF events as well as the forum’s Global Gender Parity program.

      “My career has benefited enormously from key mentoring relationships which, in turn, cemented my own belief in the importance of serving as mentor to other women.  In some cases, I had formalized mentor relationships while at other moments, I mentor through situation specific advice, encouragement during a difficult time or an unvarnished piece of advice.  I believe women create networks differently from men and often women hesitate to build out women-specific leadership traits.  I have found that mentoring relationships create a safe environment for helping other women build their confidence as they create the path forward in their careers.”



      Nicky Goren

      President & CEO, Meyer Foundation

      Nicky Goren is president and CEO of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, which pursues and invests in solutions that build an equitable Greater Washington community in which economically vulnerable people thrive.  Prior to joining the Meyer Foundation, Nicky served for four years as president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation, which focuses on increasing the economic security of women and girls in the DC region. Her earlier career included senior level roles at the Corporation for National and Community Service—the nation’s largest grant maker supporting service and volunteering

      “I have been fortunate in my career to have great mentors and bosses who invested in me – some were men and some were woman. They modeled for me the kind of leadership to which I could aspire. As a woman leader who is focused on advancing equity – in the workplace and in the world -- I believe in leading from a place of caring and compassion, supporting members of my team to achieve their potential, and hopefully passing on what I learned from the great mentors in my life.”



      Hilary Provinse

      EVP & Head of Mortgage Banking, Berkadia

      Hilary is an EVP and Head of Mortgage Banking at Berkadia, where she manages a team of 134 mortgage bankers in 29 offices around the country. Previously, Ms. Hilary was Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Engagement at Fannie Mae, where she was responsible for managing all of Fannie Mae’s multifamily production activities and customer relationships, including the Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS) lending platform, Structured Transactions, Seniors Housing, Affordable Housing, Small Loans and Borrower relationships. Earlier in her career, Hilary spent 10 years in public finance investment banking, working for Goldman Sachs & Co. and Bear Stearns & Co. in New York. 

      “Commercial Real Estate and Financial Services have historically been male dominated industries. From my years working on Wall Street in the 1990s, through my leadership roles in real estate today, I have been committed to growing, mentoring and encouraging women in these businesses.  We are fighting the good fight and making progress but not nearly quickly enough.  I am optimistic however that change is possible if we keep pushing.  I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from the mentorship of others throughout my career, so I am committed to serving as a voice for women in the Commercial Real Estate industry.”

    • 04/15/2018 4:37 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)


      Executive Edge 
      Member Spotlight

      An interview with Perry Yeatman
      CEO, Perry Yeatman Global Partners


      In the past 30 years, you’ve been a senior executive at two of the world’s largest companies, Unilever and Kraft Foods, and lived in Singapore, Moscow, and London, not to mention the many cities across the USA. Now you’re an award-winning author and the CEO of your own consulting firm, Perry Yeatman Global Partners. How did you make all that happen?

      I feel so blessed to be where I am. As you say, the opportunity to work for two Fortune 100 companies, and with some of the most prominent people of our time – from world leaders like Margaret Thatcher to iconic CEOs like Irene Rosenfeld to thought-leaders like Peter Drucker – have combined to create a career and life that has surpassed even the wildest dreams I had growing up in a small town outside Philadelphia. But while my career has in many ways been extraordinary, the biggest factors in determining my success were somewhat ordinary, namely: hard work, smart risk-taking, perseverance, great mentors and sponsors and, of course, a bit of luck. So, if my story is anything to go by, I would posit that even if you don’t consider yourself extraordinary, you can still have an amazing career and life, provided you are smart, focused and motivated.      

      What strategies have you learned about advancing your own career that you could share with other women?

      My top three pieces of advice would be:
      1. Know what you want and go for it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. It’s your life, so live it with no regrets for the things you didn’t try to achieve – personally and professionally. You may fail – I certainly did at times – but if you learn from those failures, you’ll be a better person and a better leader the next time. 
      2. While being clear on your destination, be flexible in how you get there. Careers unfold over time. Very few people take a straight path to the top.  So, while you need to know where you want to go, you also have to be open to opportunities that are moving in the right direction, even if not perfect.  Because in my experience there are very few “perfect” opportunities, especially while you are moving up the ladder.
      3. Forget balance - go for integration instead. As an ambitious career woman, I could argue there is never going to be a “great” time to add kids into the mix.  But, I would never have wanted to miss out on being a mom as my kids have truly been the greatest joys in my life.  So, plan to have it all but recognize you won’t have it all at the same time and you’ll have to make some tough choices at different points. And, when those decisions loom, don’t be swayed by guilt. Be smart about what you most want and advocate for that. As long as you don’t drop out of the work force altogether and you’re thoughtful and intentional about how you select what you do, you can find a meaningful way back in, even if you had to step back for a bit.         
      You exude confidence in your abilities and career path.  Where did you get this confidence?

      First, I have to say that there are plenty of things I still worry about and am insecure about.  But, my ability to succeed in my career is not one of them.  I built that confidence over the decades through experience.  I have routinely taken on some of the most challenging assignments and always found a way to deliver.  So, these days, there isn’t much that would scare me in terms of career moves.  That said, I also never forget: 1) that while I know a lot, there are always things I don’t know and 2) that you rarely achieve anything great alone. So, I always surround myself with excellent people - people who are different than I am - and I am never afraid to ask a question or ask for help.
       
      Where is your career heading? What will your next career challenge be?

      I’ve been out on my own for the past five years and it’s been great – giving me the flexibility and autonomy to do some things with my family I never had time for while working at the upper echelons of major corporations.  But, as my daughter looks to head off to school soon, I’m thinking it’s time for me to pivot again and take on a new challenge, something exciting and meaningful in a larger organization that really revs me up.  

      Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge?  How does Aspire Ascend support your career or personal goals?

      One of the things women don’t do nearly as well as their male counterparts is make time to network and build professional relationships outside the office.  So, when I moved back east and then stepped down from Kraft, I wanted to be sure I built and maintained relationships with smart, capable, interesting professional women in the DC area. Aspire Ascend is one of the ways I am able to do that. And, the investment has paid off - both personally and professionally.

      What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

      I was lucky to have been born curious. So, I am always seeking new insights – about myself, about business, about government and civil society and the world at large. I just love to learn. It’s one of the reasons that having the Kellogg School of Management as a client for the past several years has been so wonderful. I’ve had a chance to step back and “study” business as opposed to just doing it. It’s been enlightening. I never got my MBA. I applied and was ready to enroll when a work opportunity in London came up that I just couldn’t turn down. So, I deferred. But in the end, I never went. Now I know what I missed! I’m so grateful I got a second chance.       


    • 04/15/2018 4:10 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)



      Our experienced coaching team focuses on helping executive women increase their effectiveness, identify their strengths and development needs, build confidence and support to make bold moves and set and achieve challenging goals.

      Michelle Riklan

      Chief Career Marketing Officer

      Riklan Resources

      Michelle is an expert in employment issues, employee relations, training and development, and coaching.  She creates individual career marketing tools, educates professionals on how to position themselves to attract opportunities, and provides the fuel and support needed to accelerate career growth.

      Michelle delivers fresh insights and practical real-world strategies focused on attaining professional career growth. Her expertise spans the personal career-marketing spectrum, from leveraging LinkedIn to find and be found by opportunity, to executive resume writing. As an internationally recognized subject matter expert on careers, a storyteller, and an entrepreneur, she is passionate about assisting individuals to market themselves effectively and overcome challenges - individual by individual and one audience at a time.

      As part of the coaching team at Aspire Ascend, we asked Michelle to share with us a few insights for women executives and their resumes:

      “We live in a job market that demands candidates are well equipped with effective marketing tools, and a resume is one of the most crucial components to a personal career marketing campaign. A resume’s purpose is to communicate the value an individual has to a potential employer in a way that compels the reader to call the candidate for an interview.  One of the first things we tell clients is as a potential candidate, you are a “product” that requires branding, marketing, and selling!”

      Here are some tips from Michelle:

      With 6 seconds to make a lasting impression, these sections are crucial, and they need to hit hard. They consist of the following:

      1. Contact Information
      2. The Header
      3. The Value Proposition Statement
      4. Core Competencies / Key Skills

      1. CONTACT INFORMATION: Must be easy to read and on each page. Provide only one phone number and only one e-mail address. Include a personalized LinkedIn URL. Create hyperlinks from e-mail and the LinkedIn URL.

      2. THE HEADER: Products have labels, and that is how we start. When a reader picks up a resume, it must be crystal clear to that reader who the person is and how they potentially fit into the organization. They do not want to waste time trying to find that information and you may get passed over if this information is not obvious at first glance.  Begin your resume with a header and if you’d like to be more specific, even a sub-header.

      Example:

      CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

      Hospitality | Hotels | Multi-unit Restaurants | Private Country Clubs

      Notice how the header defines the candidate and the sub-headers offers more details.

      3. VALUE PROPOSITION STATEMENT: Sometimes known as a summary section, this section is the hook.

      We are often questioned about an objective statement instead of a summary…Never use an objective statement - you are an executive!

      A Value Proposition Statement is designed to grab the reader’s attention right from the start and persuade the reader to continue reading. Our rule of thumb is if someone else can cut and paste what you wrote and put it on your resume, then it is not very effective. This is an opportunity to differentiate from other candidates by offering more than generic information.

      4. AREAS OF EXPERTISE:  You need to include keywords, and make sure they represent the level of the position you seek. There are skills that are not necessary to list in this section such as "Strong Communication Skills," "Organizational Skills," etc. Instead, use applicable keywords that indicate that you offer expert knowledge and experience.

      When crafted properly, the above will fill the first 1/3 of the resume and can put an executive at an advantage from the competition.

      These are just some of the career advice we provide through our Career Management program at Aspire Ascend.  Learn more and become actively engaged in your own career direction and your online presence on a regular basis. The time spent working with a career management coach will help you increase your financial reward and better position you as an executive.

    • 04/11/2018 3:16 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)


      Whenever I’m in the presence of women who have achieved success in the historically male-dominated workplace world, I’m left with a sense of joy and inspiration. 

      That was the case during Aspire Ascend's latest Wine, Women & Knowledge event and panel discussion in recognition of International Women’s Day 2018. The audience of women representing businesses and non-profits across numerous economic sectors received a tutorial on how to achieve success from three extraordinary women who rose to the top in their chosen fields by reaching remarkably similar conclusions early in their careers about how to move forward. And, thinking about it afterward, I realized that a pattern – a similar roadmap – is emerging for those women who rise to leadership.

      They recognize that workplace norms of today were developed decades ago by men who made up the majority of the workforce. It is now an accepted fact of workplace life that men and women think, lead and communicate in very different ways. And while today’s workplace may be a bit easier for women to navigate as a result of that understanding, it is still essentially “a man’s world.”

      This reality has shaped the thinking of most women in leadership positions I have encountered and with whom I work. The result is a remarkably similar roadmap among women who succeed. 

      Determine career objectives early and find a workplace environment that offers a chance to thrive; one in which you are offered opportunities that increase your skills and for which your success will be recognized. That requires homework, due diligence, prior to accepting a position and the strength to walk away from a job offer that doesn’t advance your career goals, even if it means turning your back on a tempting compensation package. 

      Almost every woman leader I encounter – whether a client, a colleague, or fellow board member – has had a mentor or a sponsor at some point in her career. I have written and spoken many times of the need to find a mentor, someone to guide and correct you, to provide advice and a “safe haven” where you can map out a pathway through some of the workplace minefields we all encounter.

      A good sponsor will also help you identify, address and even challenge the biases women in the workplace have to confront much more frequently than men. 

      Biases and assumptions about what women can and cannot do come in all shapes and sizes.

      A colleague of mine related a story about her niece who, early in her career, took two years off from her management role to raise a newborn daughter. When she returned to work part-time, concerns were raised about her ability to handle a management role part-time. But, one senior manager simply asked “Since she has been a top performer for several years, why do you think she would not be able to succeed at this job part-time?” 

      The result of that simple question, posed by an advocate for my colleague’s niece, changed her career trajectory. She remained in a management role and continued to be a top performer while working part-time. 

      I don’t know whether that advocate was a man or a woman, but it doesn’t matter. Mentors, sponsors and advocates can be either. 

      Know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it. But, do your homework first. 

      A common thread among the comments from panelists was the need to be self-aware and be ready to ask for what you want. And, be prepared. 

      One panelist gave the example of a potential new hire who, after receiving the job offer, negotiated for a higher compensation package. When asked what she thought her desired package should look like, and what similar positions paid, she didn’t have any facts to support her request.

      While she was given the position, she probably could have gotten a better compensation package if she had done more diligent homework. 

      And, what about the impression she left with her new employer? It could also have been better if she prepared more rigorous documentation on compensation. 

      My take away from the panel discussion:

      • Develop career goals early
      • Choose an environment that fits your work style and advances your career objectives
      • Ask for what you want, but be prepared to support your request with proper documentation 
      • Find a sponsor

      One last observation… Each panelist – a CEO of a national non-profit, an Executive Vice President at a multi-billion-dollar organization, and the CEO of an international consulting firm – had the same view when it comes to women helping women. As one of them said, “too many women who have made it pull the ladder up after them, instead of helping women coming up behind them climb each rung.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it with a bit more punch: “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

      Either way, it’s a message worth remembering. 







    • 02/16/2018 2:42 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)


      How many of you know about the Women in Business Initiative Board with the School of Business at George Mason University? 

       It is an exciting initiative with a mission to build a supportive network of female business professionals who can assist and open doors for Mason’s current female students, female alumni and other businesswomen. 

      Yes, it is for women! Consider this the “club” for today’s woman! Professional women like us owe it to young women to help them get a head start on their careers and provide them with opportunities to meet successful role models. I wish I had an executive woman role model when I was in college. That’s why I am on the Women in Business Initiative board.

      This year we will have four events that truly require great sponsors (like all of you) who have influence in your companies and to support recruiting top-performing female talent for your companies. You will also get the opportunity to be a provider of business insight in support of women in the workplace. These events are ideal if you are looking to mentor students, hire interns or young alumni, or get your company’s brand out in front of future employees.

      • The Tips for Success event is hosted by the Women in Business Initiative with support of the School of Business Career Services. Hosted in the fall, this event presents one employer a unique opportunity to interact with School of Business students, faculty, staff, and young alumni. This interactive panel event is geared towards offering our students tips from professionals in the industry. As a sole sponsor and partner in action, you stand side-by-side with the School of Business as we inspire and teach the next generation of women entering the workforce.
      • The Women in Business Etiquette Presentation is hosted in the spring and this event presents one employer a unique opportunity to interact “up close and personal” with School of Business students and young alumni. This interactive luncheon and dinner is geared towards teaching our students business and dinning etiquette from professionals.
      • 3rd Annual Tour of Greater Northwest Wine Reception. This event supports Women in Business funded student scholarships at George Mason University. Who doesn’t enjoy a great glass of wine? And who would walk away from the opportunity to help a women be the first to graduate college in her family! Sip on Greater Northwest wines courtesy of Vienna Vintner, indulge in regional hors d'oeuvres, and get you passport stamped for chances to win wine-themed door prizes. Check out the photos from last year’s event here! Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 3, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Country Club of Fairfax. Register:http://business.gmu.edu/womeninbusiness/program/
      • Power Networking for Women, July 2018. Join us for an evening of networking and wine with the most influential businesswomen in the national capital region. Build your network and share knowledge while supporting Mason's effort to promote women in the workplace. Here are some great photos from the event
      So, let's make a real investment in future women leaders!

      Please contact Nikki Jerome at njerome@gmu.edu Women in Business Liaison with the School of Business or call 703-994-9850 for more information.


    • 01/10/2018 9:20 AM | Jan Molino (Administrator)


      Career Management should not start when you are suddenly faced with your job being eliminated at the end of the month.

      Regardless of your current job status or whether or not you’re considering new professional opportunities, it is vital to have a well-thought-out career management strategy in place.

      People don’t think twice about engaging a health professional to manage their health. 

      Or a financial planner to help manage their money.

      What about a career management professional to help manage your career?

      So, what is your career plan? 

      Does your resume sell who you are and your accomplishments?

      Does your LinkedIn profile tell the same story as your resume?

      Effective career management is an ongoing activity that is a powerful tool to help advance your career. 

      So, let’s talk about return on investment. By proactively managing your career, you’ll have more money for your financial advisor to manage. Just don’t stop when you find your next executive position. 

      It’s ongoing, remember?

      We have enhanced our career management services to include Certified Executive Resume Writers in addition to our executive career coaches who will provide expert guidance on career path management, job transition, career changes, professional resume development, board readiness, LinkedIn Profile, social media presence, and many more customized services.

      Our Career Management Service includes:

      • One-on-one executive career guidance
      • Coaching Packages available for: Career Management; Corporate Board Development; Executive Communications/Media training; Corporate Coaching; Executive Coaching; and Social Media
      • Strategic networking
      • Professional resume development, executive bios, cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), and much more to facilitate executive career transition.

      Ready to manage your career?

      Schedule your complimentary career assessment and get ready to manage your career at info@aspire-ascend.com



    • 12/13/2017 2:16 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      “Building Power as a Female Executive”

      I recently had the privilege of speaking at the 9th Annual Virginia Women’s Business Conference where I met amazing women leaders and entrepreneurs. I spoke about building power as a female executive, a topic dear to my heart. 

      Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe in the power of women.

      I believe that women have a unique perspective for leadership, and I truly believe women can shape the future of the workplace. 

      And I believe that the biggest key to building power is to surround yourself with powerful people.

      Women executives lead busy lives and deal with complicated business situations. Add to this, women often are in charge of family responsibilities. So, it is very easy to forego “discretionary” tasks like networking meetings. But it is a proven fact that the time you spend on this has a direct impact on your status and power.

      I learned a long time ago that successful women, those who shape their own destiny and disrupt the workplace, understand the power of networking. They know that strategic networking creates what is known as a “virtuous cycle”, a chain of events that build on themselves. It goes like this:

      • a powerful network increases your visibility; 
      • visibility increases your power and status, 
      • which in turn increases your ability to build and maintain the right relationships
      • and with those relationship, get more done through them. 

      I don’t remember who said it, but I agree with the sentiment: “even the Lone Ranger didn’t do it alone.”

      And I have seen it time and again, women enhance their power when they build the right network and, for me, that means developing a “toolkit.” Let’s call it a Power Networking Leadership Toolkit. 

      Read the rest of story on Huffington Post

    • 12/05/2017 4:56 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)

      Coaching Corner

      Our experienced coaching team focuses on helping executive women increase their effectiveness, identify their strengths and development needs, build confidence and support to make bold moves and set and achieve challenging goals.


      Jan Fox

      With more than 25 years and four Emmy Awards to her TV journalism credit, Jan Fox is a popular speaker, speaking coach, and author. She has coached company owners, CEOs, and senior leaders to improve their presentation and speaking skills. Her client list is among the most recognizable names in corporate America including nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Jan is also a highly experienced TEDx Talk coach and has prepared many speakers to appear on television and to deliver industry keynotes.

      As part of the coaching team at Aspire Ascend, we asked Jan to share with us a few insights for women executives on public speaking:

      Tips from Jan:

      The executive women who come to see me usually fall into 3 categories:

      • They don’t speak up at all, because they suffer from a serious case of speaker jitters.
      • They speak up timidly, but they can’t command the room.
      • They speak up often and loudly, but they don’t get the attention of others around the table.  
      Each of the above categories requires a specific approach, and, believe me, I want all of these smart women to see fast results.
       
      THE NON-SPEAKER: I use my ever-evolving list of mind-shifts for the women in first group.
      • We work on the belief that no-one else has their exact set of skills. Definitely, no one else has their personal and professional stories or their list of experiences.
      • I stress how they are obligated by the universe to share with the world. We find their stories that meet their personal and professional purposes. We practice and practice.
      • Then we target the exact moment to bring a story to life, and they tell it. When it’s over, they learn they still have a pulse, and the accolades are enough for them to try again and again. They learn to love sharing what they know.
      THE TIMID SPEAKER:  More often than not, all these women need to do is increase their volume and energy.
      • We use video to show that simply increasing their volume makes them seem bold and confident. They feel it.
      • We immediately see what they need to do to enhance their personal presence.
      • Their home work is to practice speaking louder with that presence in every conversation. I’ve heard story after story of their pride, when the pens and phones around the table plop down and every eye is now on the new bold speakers.
      THE POWERLESS SPEAKER:  This often takes a little more time.
      • If this is you, start by listening better right away. Listen to the questions being asked in your meetings. Notice who comments, for how long, and with how much conviction.
      • The powerful speakers use fewer words but more passion and stronger eye contact. If you’re speaking, but no one listening, you’re often the exact opposite- monotone, passionless with way too many words.
      • Home work is to talk to the organizer of the next meeting where you might have to speak. Ask for the agenda. We mark exactly where you can add something to the conversation. You make a commitment NOT to speak on every point and NOT to speak up first.
      • We practice and practice the places you can speak up. You stick to the plan! Almost every time, someone comments on how important your contribution was. That’s another one off and running with new-found confidence.
      These may seem like small steps, but the results are new-found joy and personal freedom. I love watching it happen! "


    • 12/05/2017 4:42 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)


      Member Spotlight:

      An interview with Marcia Davies
      Chief Operating Officer, Mortgage Bankers Association

      You are currently the Chief Operating Officer in an industry that still has a stunning lack of women in executive roles. Your knowledge of that lack of gender diversity has been the driving force behind “mPower” - an exclusive network for women in the real estate finance industry. How do you see this network leveraging the power and influence of women? What have been the challenges? Where do you see mPower having its biggest impact?

      The real estate finance industry, like many others, has been slow to recognize women as senior leaders. mPower is designed to help women engage, network and learn both from one another and through professional development opportunities we provide.

      We have seen tremendous success with our mPower events. In one year, we had over 1,000 women participate in eight events. Just last month, we held our first full day of programming for women called mPowering You in conjunction with MBA’s Annual Convention in Denver. Over 350 women participated in the Summit and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There were women from all stages of a career, from those who were just starting out to experienced professionals who have been in the industry for a while. It was so rewarding to hear the event inspired and empowered everyone – no matter level or tenure.    

      mPower also has a secure online community where women can post questions or share ideas with one another. The community has been active for one year and has over 1,300 members. One challenge has been while the community is large, the number of women participating in posted discussions could be more robust. We have seen an increased engagement, but it would be great if more women shared their comments and opinions. Often I hear women talk about how much the posts from other women helped them but, for whatever reason, they chose not to comment directly.   

      What strategies have you learned about advancing your own career that you could share with other women? 

      First, I would say: “don’t be afraid to take risks.” Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new responsibilities is not only very rewarding, but also provides a way for you to be seen in a different light, which most often is appealing to senior leaders within an organization.   

      Second, stay true to yourself. Be authentic. Don’t compromise your values or your integrity. And, make sure there are parts of your job that bring you joy! 

      How do you think being a woman impacts your leadership style?

      I strive to lead by example, treat people the way I want to be treated, empower my team and be an active listener. Those qualities are not unique to women but they describe my leadership style.

      You exude confidence in your abilities and career path.  Where did you get this confidence? 

      For me, building confidence was an evolution. It took time, making the right decisions and choices and producing a lot of beyond expected results.   

      What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

      I’ve read articles and hear a lot about the differences between men and women when considering applying for a new opportunity. Women will often hold themselves back when they don’t have 100 percent of the job requirements when men will more often take the risk and apply for that opportunity.
       
      I had a boss who encouraged me to take a position that was well outside of my comfort zone and one that I did not have direct technical experience. He indicated the position needed a strong leader with excellent instincts, who had the ability to influence others, who was decisive and a proven track record of creating high performing teams. He told me I had all of those skills and the technical expertise comes from my team. 
       
      So, I took a leap of faith and stepped in that job. It changed the course of my career in ways I never envisioned. In addition to expanding my resume, I became known for my expertise and success in an entirely new area.


      Where is your career heading? What will your next career challenge be?

      I see my career continuing to grow. Over the next few years, I will devote more of my time to expand mPower and its impact in the industry. I want to see mPower thrive so MBA can continue supporting women in the real estate finance industry.

      What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

      It’s my hope that there will be more women in leadership so the next generation of women will have role models and leaders that help them navigate the challenges women face.

      What advice do you have for women aiming for a senior leadership position?

      Put yourself out there. Take on new assignments, stay actively engaged, participate in meetings, demonstrate quality decision making and be visible. Let management know who you are and how capable you are!

      What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

      I always try to learn from mistakes and make sure I ask my management team what they need from me. Leadership isn’t a one-size fits all so it’s important to understand strengthens and weaknesses within yourself as well as your team to become the most effective management team possible.

      What haven’t we covered that you think is an important message for women? 

      Women need to support one another. Share your successes and failures with one another. Step up if you see a woman struggling in the workplace and see if you can coach or help her. Working together is so powerful. 

      Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge? How does Aspire Ascend support your career and/or personal goals?

      Networking with other senior executive women is so important, and I wanted to expand my network beyond my industry. Aspire Ascend Executive Edge membership provides great networking events and provides timely information. In addition, the executive coaching provided – I chose to hone my public speaking with the help of Jan Fox – has been very helpful.


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