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For the previous few months, e-VentExe has been spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Readers were able to read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. This month, we end our series with Madvi Raya, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Co-founder of ScImage, a privately-held company headquartered in Los Altos, CA that provides state-of-the-art enterprise imaging solutions to the healthcare industry.
The Super-Career woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to climb the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation?
In 1993, Madvi and her husband, Sai started and ran ScImage Inc. (A Medical Imaging Company) out of their spare room and garage for the first few years. Now, 20 years and two teenagers later, ScImage currently has offices in Los Altos, CA and 11 out-of-state offices and has grown organically into a mid-sized company.
Obtaining a Bachelors degree in Science and a Masters in Molecular Biology, Madvi was a Research Associate while simultaneously working to help start ScImage on the weekends. Madvi, who has always been ambitious, was raised by her parents to be independent allowing her to pursue her endeavors with full force; she always has a vision plan and believes a female is able to accomplish anything a male can.
As such, Madvi left her position as a Research Associate and solely devoted her time to ScImage. She recalls the hard work and dedication she put into the business. She had to self-educate herself in multiple business areas where she had had no previous formal education on how to run a business because she had to wear many hats in the beginning stages of ScImage. Madvi and her husband hired their first employee three years after ScImage’s creation.
Balancing her personal life with her work life was challenging, especially with young children and a household to run. Luckily, Madvi had a strong support system consisting of working and non-working mothers, friends, and family. She constantly evaluates her options, deciding which challenge needed more attention depending on the circumstances.
Looking back on her career, Madvi would take the same path again and believes everything she went through was a learning experience; she has met and worked with some wonderful and talented people.
Madvi enjoys her time at work and is also equally involved in her teenagers’ lives – volunteering some of her time at her sons’ school. Despite her busy schedule, Madvi made time and continues to make time to give back to her community by volunteering her time to several nonprofits. Madvi served/serves on the boards of: Community Awareness Treatment Services (CATS) which serves the homeless in the San Francisco Area, Gunn Foundation which provides scholarships to college bound students from her sons’ school and American Women for International Understanding (AWIU), a nationwide women’s organization that promotes understanding and provides grants to help support various women’s issues.
Madvi believes females who are currently entering, or who are new to the workforce should display hard work and perseverance, stating that there will be tough and unglamorous parts in any job, but pushing through all of that is vital to success in business regardless of gender. Madvi, who is a strong advocate on giving back to society, also believes that young women (sometime in their life) should give back to their community by getting involved in non-profit organizations that support causes that they are passionate about.
*e-VentExe, a full service human resource consulting firm, began as a start-up and specializes in outsourcing & compliance, recruitment & retention, training & development, and assessment tools.
With the holiday season nearing its end, the influxes of seasonal workers begin to slowly trickle as terminations ensue. This inevitable process is not only difficult for managers, but also for other seasonal and full-time employees. Once connections and friendships have been made between all staff, team morale may be low after the seasonal layoffs. As such, it is vital for retail managers and leaders to prepare and strategize for this time of year and ensure their surviving staff continue to stay engaged after the holiday rush.
The leadership team provides more than strategic management for its organization; they implement strategies for optimal proficiency and betterment of their organization. As for retail, overall employee performance and customer service ratings are the responsibility of the HR leaders and during the busy holiday season, this needs to become the primary focus.
If things are not running smoothly behind-the-scenes, it will be evident on the sales floor. As leaders, preplanning your overall business strategies and communicating your seasonal goals to the supervisory and management staff are necessary in order to promote efficiency and decrease chaotic situations. This will assist you in driving the performance and service standards to a higher threshold.
Establishing a team environment for all levels of the leadership staff will make your job a little easier and build an overall environment that can drive results and deliver your vision.
Before hiring for the holiday season, determine how many weeks or months you will need your seasonal hires. Preplanning and communication are vital! This way, you can ensure your staff is aware of the time period and will be prepared when the holiday hires leave.
Once you have decided on your new hires, be sure to notify your selected candidates on how long they are needed to work; this conversation is best during the on-boarding process. You don’t want to leave the new hires in the dark and give them false hope on how long they will be with the company.
Although seasonal employees are temporary, make sure you plan your holiday party to include them. After all, a big thank you goes a long way. Show them you are grateful for all the hard work and dedication they put forth during the busy holiday season. As such, constantly thank your long-term employees as well!
Post any non-seasonal openings and ensure your seasonal workers are aware of the postings when the layoff process nears. Seasonal workers may be interested in continuing employment at your company; encourage them to apply. By telling them before terminating, the transition between being a temporary to a regular employee may be smoother since they are aware of company policy and culture.
If your seasonal hires are not interested in pursuing the status of a regular employee, but would like to be called back for another season, keep a record of their contact information and let them know you will contact them once another busy season hits.
After the layoffs have been completed and regular company schedules are normal, hold a store-wide meeting involving all staff to receive feedback and input on how the season went.
Getting your regular employees involved in the process from preplanning to layoffs ensures engagement from your employees and allows them to be part of the process—this aids in building the morale and pride of job ownership.
*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting company specializing in outsourcing and compliance, recruitment and retention, training and development, and assessment tools.
On a brisk November morning a female employee at a small electrical company in Winters CA arrived at work and was ambushed as she sat in her car. The alleged gunman was her estranged husband, whom she had a long history with and had an active restraining order. Tragically, the protective order would not be enough to keep her safe and she was killed that morning. It’s unknown what, if any, knowledge the owners of the business had of the ongoing domestic violence. What is clear is that despite the tragic loss of life, the incident could have been much worse. The gunman could have chosen to attack his wife inside the business. A quick scan of the internet will point you to a long list of stories of domestic violence spilling into the workplace, with unintended victims being injured alongside the abuser’s target.
In a troubling juxtaposition, all too often extreme violence can be tied to a victim either seeking or having recently obtained a protection order. Here are some other points to consider.
- Our workforces are largely a reflection of society. The problems that society faces will carry over into the workplace.
- Protective orders are only effective if the “restrained” person is willing to follow them. A piece of paper will not keep you or your staff safe.
- Be mindful that the most dangerous time is when a victim is trying to leave her abuser.
- Accept the fact that victims will often go back to their abuser, don’t take it personally.
The challenge for businesses has always been trying to determine the right balance of support vs. intruding into employees’ private lives. The reality of domestic violence is that the abuser knows two places where he can find his victim with almost certainty; at home and at the workplace. Regardless of an organizations desire, or lack thereof, to get involved, domestic violence does spill into the workplace. So what can a company do to protect their workforce and respect the privacy of individual employees?
- Maintain strong and open communication with your employees
- Have multiple methods for staff to report concerns
- Provide training for staff and managers on recognition of domestic violence indicators
- Consider establishing a relationship with a domestic violence shelter. Employee assistance programs can feel cold and impersonal. In Sacramento County WEAVE is an excellent resource.
- Consider elevating security measures when a credible threat exists. This may be as simple as sharing with impacted coworkers the nature of the threat and keeping doors locked.
- Consider establishing an incident response team. This team will conduct an assessment if/when a threat is identified and determines a course of action. Even smaller companies can use a team approach to assess situations.
The single greatest factor to identifying and then being in a position to help prevent incidents of violence in the workplace is having a good relationship with your employees. If your employees feel comfortable coming forward with concerns and your management team knows how to respond you significantly increase your chances of addressing problems before they can escalate to violence.
About the Author:
Mr. Alvarez is the founder of Alvarez Associates, a firm specializing in workplace violence prevention. Having been both a security director for a major national critical infrastructure and a city police officer, he has built over 25 years of experience in the field of violence prevention. For 15 years he directed cutting edge security programs focused specifically on preventing and responding to “active shooters” in private sector environments. He understands the challenges organizations and communities face addressing the threat of violence. He has personally evaluated and managed hundreds of potentially violent situations, developed numerous violence prevention programs and trained thousands of employees and managers in workplace violence prevention.
*e-VentExe and Alvarez Associates will be holding a workshop in Roseville CA on utilizing state-of-the-art assessment tools for recruitment practices and workplace violence prevention on January 22, 2014. If interested, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
The holiday season for retail workers mean one thing: busy, busy, busy. With stores starting their Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving, more employees are needed to man the store. In fact, CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey concluded that 39% of hiring managers plan to hire workers this year, compared to 36% last year, and 29% in 2011.
Sure, when Black Friday comes along, fashionistas, technology gurus, and anyone who simply wants a good deal will be participating in this shopping spree day. But what about the employees who have to work during these ghastly hours, especially on Thanksgiving? Although store hours are opening in the evening to ensure retail employees have time to spend with their family and friends, it may be tough for any retail manager to motivate their staff (especially if copious amounts of food was consumed just hours before). How will retail leaders prepare their staff for the infamous Black Friday sale in terms of customer service, team morale, and overall employee well-being?
Working in retail, customer service is essential. As a store associate, necessary steps are taken to achieve top quality service to customers—ask them how their day is going, ask them if they need any assistance finding items, provide insight when asked, be personable and approachable. Yes, folding clothes after what looked like a blizzard hit the section may be frustrating, but remember: providing superior customer service is a pivotal function of the job; not only does it reflect the company, it also reflects the employee.
Staying motivated during the busy season may be challenging, and customer complaints can make it tougher. When team morale seems to be lacking, it is both noticeable for both other staff members and customers. Remember to keep the staff engaged in their work and with their fellow customers by providing incentives such as these:
1) Provide healthy snacks throughout the day in the break room to ensure employees are being well-nourished. Offering snacks, such as nuts, will reward employees with natural health benefits including long-lasting energy, brain health, and even reduce stress.
2) Employee holiday appreciation party. During or after the holiday season, plan a party for the employees to show them they are more than just bodies in the store. Thank them for all the hard work they have done for the company. Gather each employees’ insight (i.e., theme, food, activities) to ensure their voice and ideas are being heard by upper management.
3) Appreciation in-store discounts or gift cards. Offer employees a generous discount, such as 60% off of sale items and 40% off of regular priced items. Another incentive may involve having a raffle drawing of gift cards to other places.
4) Shorter shifts to alleviate stress. Dealing with customers amongst the constant hustle and bustle of the season may be demanding. Provide shorter shifts to ensure employees are not feeling burnt-out.
5) Allow employees to change roles and/or departments during their shift. Employees may feel unmotivated (and most likely bored) repeating one tedious task for the entire shift. Change up the scenery by moving them around the store and allowing them to engage in other roles. This tactic may make the shifts more bearable and the hours go by quicker.
As managers and leaders, it is management’s job to ensure their employees’ needs are being met and frustrations alleviated. Empowering employees in turn empowers management which empowers the overall company.
*e-Ventexe is a full service human resource company dedicated to providing services catered to clients’ needs.
Crowds of people zooming past one another, baby strollers rested along racks of clothes as mothers and fathers shop, lines zigzagging throughout the store—the holiday season has crept up once again. The National Retail Federation’s 2012 survey confirmed more than 88 million consumers shopped in-stores and online on Black Friday. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, how are top retail leaders and managers planning to beat the “holiday burnout” in terms of keeping employee morale and productivity up during the holiday season? Long hours, employees calling in sick last minute, gift returns, etc., calls for copious amounts of stress. Although the feeling of being burnt-out can not be completely eliminated, here are some tips to help avoid becoming an overworked, overstressed Grinch at the workplace.
1) Plan early! Plan months, weeks, or even days in advance. This can include plans for keeping the staff engaged with customer service, the number of store associates working for each shift, the number of hours for each shift, the number of employees stationed at each department, etcetera. By planning in advance, chaotic situations may be minimal which in turn alleviates stress levels for all parties.
2) Always develop a strategy in case incidences happen unexpectedly. For example, if a customer spilled coffee all over the tiled floor in front of the Women’s clothing department, what actions would be taken? Who will take the initiative? Would it be the shift leader who was upstairs in the Men’s department when the spill happened? Or the sales associates who was standing 10 feet away from the spill? In simple incidences such as this, delegate a plan such as, whichever employee saw the spill first is responsible for cleaning the mess. If a customer notices the spill and informs an associate, have that associate take the initiative to ensure other holiday shoppers are not harmed. Take the appropriate measures to develop strategies (even if they are on the spot) to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for all customers and staff. In this incident, a lawsuit may have been avoided.
3) Have a plan for employee absence and call-ins. It is inevitable; employees will call in or not show up for their shift. If an employee calls-in last minute because s/he can not work a shift, what would happen? Extend an employee’s shift who is currently working? Go through the call schedule? If you are unexpectedly short of staff, always begin recruiting within the store, and then reach out to employees’ who are not scheduled to work. The last minute call may make any shift leader want to pull his/her hair out, but there’s always someone looking to make more money. And better yet, if your store holds your employees to the highest degree, then they may willingly want to help the store when short-staff problems arise.
4) Communicate with the entire team daily. Set up regular short meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. This will make sure all staff (in all departments) is in sync with the latest news, changes, etc., which ultimately eliminates confusion. This may also increase an employee’s sense of self-worth; it promotes productivity and gives the employee a sense of belonging and importance in the company because the supervisor(s) allotted time to check up on him/her.
5) When on the sales floor, always pay attention to surroundings. Step in when needed to ensure the store runs smoothly. After all, the more chaotic the store, the more stressed managers feel. For example, if a cashier is having difficulty with ringing up an item, don’t feel pressured to “hurry up the line” and push the employee out of the way—this will show the employee management does not care, or worst, think s/he is a nuisance or a useless body. Instead managers should greet their cashier first then solve the issue collectively; this will show the employee that store leaders regard them as a human-being and it also promotes team work and problem solving strategies.
Follow these 5 tips and celebrate the holidays with ease.
*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting company in Northern California specializing in training & development, recruitment & retention, and outsourcing & compliance. Our consultants collectively have over 60 years of professional experience in HR, 30 years specializing in retail. e-VentExe is dedicated to meeting and exceeding clients’ needs.
For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. This month, with our focus on retail, we continue our series with Joni Enders, who is currently a retiree devoting her time as a volunteer for Call Kurtis, a CBS Sacramento program.
25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women couldn’t show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better. They dressed the part to be at the boardroom, i.e., suits and ties. The Super-Career woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to rise the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation? The world for woman today is different, however mistakes can still be made as a women rises to the top of a competitive workplace.
Joni, who has always been a personable individual and had a knack for fashion began her career in retail as a student working part-time as a store associate at the department store, JCPenney. Although she loved clothing and interacting with others, Joni was first interested in law and contemplated continuing her studies in legal issues while working. However, Joni saw great potential and opportunities with JCPenney and continued her career in retail stating it was where she belonged. Joni was a part of JCPenney for nearly 40 years, retiring merely two years prior; what once started as a simple part-time gig spiraled into something much greater: the dream career of overseeing several JCPenney stores.
With Joni’s go-getter attitude, she moved up the ranks and did not recall ever reaching a glass ceiling. She considers all the opportunities she was given a learning experience. Although she had the chance to fulfill higher career roles (district manager), she was content with being a store manager in Wichita, KS. and then in Sacramento, CA.
In terms of balancing both her work and personal life, Joni delegated her time to each. She decided which one was going to require more of her time. Joni recalls that for the holiday season, her family knew she would be busy so she devoted a great amount of time to her work; it was her job and her family was aware. However, Joni believes one must always reserve time for personal life matters as well, stating that communication is necessary.
Jonie, who is extremely happy with her career outcome at JCPenney states she does not have any regrets. She was fortunate to have great positions and mentors who supported her early in her career. The only mistake she recalls is giving employees too much opportunity in order to succeed within the company; she had a tendency to allow people to work longer even though the job was not cut out for them. Joni recalls that in the end, it did not benefit the company or the individuals involved.
From her experience, Joni has a few pieces of advice for those who are new to the workforce. She states that one must find a career that is incredibly rewarding and fulfill one’s needs. Joni believes mentorships are very important; she believes a mentor provides support and acts as a confidant. Not only should one seek a mentor, one should also be a mentor. She also believes one must find a way to stand out from the crowd. Joni stresses that knowing one’s audience is vital because one must know who and how to speak to specific individuals. By knowing one’s audience, there is a greater potential of acknowledgement.
For a detailed Q and A about Joni, read below:
1) How long did it take you to reach to the top of the corporate ladder?
It took me about 29 years [to be a store manager]. I was on the District Staff where I was a District Market Merchandiser in both San Diego and Hawaii. For Hawaii, I was in charge of deciding what Moo Moo dresses we would sell in the stores. From the color, print, style, etc.
2) Did you change yourself to fit into the career world?
Yes, you have to. You have to know your audience. As a leader, I made sure my presence was appropriate. I asked a lot of questions. Internally, you’re always the same person, but you have to change yourself depending on who you’re dealing with and what position you have.
3) If you could do it all over again, would you do the same thing?
That’s a tough one, I don’t know that I would change anything, I grew to become the person who I am now and I am extremely happy with the outcome. Jcpenney provided me with great opportunities and learning experiences. Not sure if I would be happy in law compared to retail. With my go-getter attitude, retail was perfect because there was always something new.
For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. We continue our series with “Super-Career” woman, Georgene Waterman, who is currently the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Life Med ID, an Information Technology company specializing in medical software.
25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women could not show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better. They dressed the part to be at the boardroom (i.e., suits and ties).
The “Super-Career” woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to move up the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation? The world for women today is different; however mistakes can still be made as a woman advances in a competitive workplace.
Georgene has always been the type of individual that can multitask and work in a proficient manner. She recalls being in charge of fundraisers in high school and stated that if anything needed to be done, she would be the first point of contact in completing the project or task. Georgene’s go-getter attitude started at a young age and continued into her adult life: she was the mother of a disabled child as well as a professional working her way up in her career.
Following in her Mother’s footsteps, Georgene became a registered nurse by receiving a nursing diploma. She later pursued her bachelors, masters, and PhD after she already had her first child. Busy as she was being a great mother and career woman, Georgene did not recall any major struggles or challenges as she climbed up the ladder of success, only wishing she would have asked for help in terms of childcare. She found a way to balance both her family and career by simply making it work; devoting time to each. She was 40 years old when she received the coveted title of CEO at a hospital and had been working professionally since she was 21 years old. Georgene began her career path as a registered nurse, switched into hospital administration, and then made her greatest leap of all by becoming a CEO. In the midst of all this, Georgene also started her own side business where she trained nurses to help orient new nurses.
Georgene has always been an outspoken individual in a professional way allowing her to stand out from the rest of the crowd: she always voiced her opinion and was a part of the solution, not the problem. She believes a large reason as to how she moved up the ladder was by allowing others to hear what she thought and the implementations she would put forth.
Georgene felt she never reached a glass ceiling because of the way she perceived herself. She never thought of herself as a woman, which benefited her career goals. Georgene believes women who see themselves as women, rather than professional individuals do reach a glass ceiling, which may be due to the stigma behind women in senior positions.
Based on Georgene’s past experiences, she has some advice for females who are about to, or recently entered the workforce. She stresses to ask and receive help in terms of childcare for mothers. In a business standpoint, Georgene encourages newcomers to speak up, bring solutions, do not complain, and to ask for help to implement ideas. She believes finding out where one fits in is important stating that people cannot find their true calling unless they try many different things and stay in a job for more than a couple of months.
Although Georgene has taken a step back from the top position, she has had many accomplishments in her life and feels she does not have to prove herself to anyone anymore. She states it can be challenging having to report to someone, but she does not care, especially since she still works in a medical-related industry and that is where her heart belongs.
Georgene thinks of her life as a spiritual journey recalling the hardships and joyous times, but overall believes everything she has encountered has either been a learning experience or a giving experience.
To learn more about Georgene’s career path, read below for a detailed Q and A:
1) Upon entering the workforce what was your initial career choice? Did that career path change? If so, why did you decide to pursue a different path?
In my day, you could become a nurse by living in a hospital and studying right there at the hospital and becoming a diploma nurse but it didn’t give you a college education. Or you could get a college education. We [diploma nurses] were the nurses that everyone wanted because we knew what we were doing—we lived and worked at the hospital for three solid years, summers included…so about the same amount as going to a four-year college, but we didn’t have a college degree, we got a diploma. I did that of course because my mother did it. Two months out of nursing training they needed an Assistant Head Nurse and I got the Ella Sweep Award, which was the person out of 69 girls who was the most excellent nurse. And then they asked me to be the Assistant Head Nurse. So I’ve never been in anything other than management. I’ve been working for 45 years and I’ve always been in management because of that [Assistant Head Nurse position].
2) Did you find it difficult to compete for jobs in a male-dominated world?
I was lucky because nursing is female dominated, so I started with that and then made my switch from nursing into hospital administration; I was just part of a group. After, I made the biggest leap of all in my time [by becoming a CEO]. I became a CEO of a network of hospitals that included 28 hospitals and there were 27 men and then me. I was never in that traditional business where women have to compete because all nurses were women in my day.
3) Why did you pursue the hospital CEO position?
It pursued me: I went from nursing and then I worked 7,8,9 years and then I had a baby. I thought “I’m not missing Christmas morning.” My family was very traditional. Christmas morning was important so I needed a job that gave me weekends off. After I had my first baby, (I was almost 30) I went to the Director of Nurses and I said “I want to come back. I really only want to work part-time and no weekends,” and she said, “Well, let’s see what you can do.” She asked me what I liked to do and I said “I really enjoy the teaching part of nursing.” She made a job for me—they needed something done, and they needed someone to take care of all of the orientation of the new nurses. They oriented about 250 new nurses a year, so she gave me that project and I took it and went with it; I made it my own! I did that while my children were very young and then I was asked by another hospital to run their education department.
4) If you could do it all over again, would you do the same thing?
I ask myself that and I ask my children that—“Did you suffer because I was on my own journey?” and they said they didn’t in terms of working. I think it was good for my daughter to see that I was more than a Mother.
5) What were some of your mistakes along the way to your ideal career goal?
Not asking for help soon enough, taking jobs along the way that I probably didn’t strategically think about. I had to work with some big corporations along the way that I didn’t agree with, like I had one corporation that wanted me to do some illegal things and when I refused to do them, they fired me, so I had to file a whistleblower lawsuit against them. You can’t work that many years and not have things happen. I’ve always worked long-term, but I took a job once in between jobs to run a 350-bed assisted living facility that was in the middle of new ownership. I kept coming in earlier and earlier and started coming in at 3:00am and left at 8:00pm and my husband said, “What are you doing?” Obviously it wasn’t for me—I couldn’t get my arms around it, they didn’t have any professional people there; it was a disaster. It was just a different model than I was used to working with, so I’ve had many experiences. I took the job because I wasn’t working and I felt I could do anything—I ran a hospital so I figured I could run an assisted living place, but it was very different. We all take jobs that we don’t think through.