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For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story on how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. Our first “Super-Career” woman, Alison Campbell, is currently a Medical Unit Manager for nurses at Travelers Insurance Company.
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 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.
Alison’s climb to reach where she is now in her career was not an easy or predictable path; she recalls hitting a glass ceiling in her career. Having both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing, she began as a clinical nurse, to a hospital nurse and finally to a corporate nurse, even owning her own business as a legal nurse consultant along the way.
During Alison’s career, she devoted her time to her work and her family, stressing that both are important and need attention. Alison has always had a driven attitude, constantly learning something new and applying it into her everyday life. Therefore, in terms of balancing work and family, she believes in making adjustments and never giving up on choosing one over the other. Alison believes the most important thing a career-oriented mother can do is make sure the extra time and energy she is devoting to her work is strategic (i.e., down the road it is going to mean something).
Although Alison does not regret anything she has done because she loves her industry and profession, she wishes she had sought out more sponsors as well as completed her education early (before she had children).
Alison’s advice to young females currently in or are about to enter the workforce includes networking, having mentors and sponsors, and working for an organization with matching culture and core values. She believes females should definitely network with everyone and build relationships face to face (albeit social media is on the rise). Alison stresses that women must be comfortable networking with others because they never know where these connections will lead and often times it is about who an individual knows.
Alison has a positive outlook for the future of women in business stating that she believes women have joined the workforce in every level and more of them are needed at the top to mentor the females entering the workforce.
To learn more about Alison’s career path, read below for a detailed Q and A:
1) Did you find it difficult to compete for jobs in a male-dominated world? What did you do to make yourself stand out from the rest?
Yes, I had a high degree of technical expertise and I networked with men and women. So you have to network because you could be the greatest technical expert but if a lot of people don’t know it and if a lot of people in executive management don’t know it then you can’t move ahead. So I would say the other thing I did was that I self promoted some projects to executive management and they let me do them.
2) How long did it take you to reach to the top of the corporate ladder?
I’m not really at the top, but I would say it took me 10-12 years. By the time I was 32, I had my own business as a legal nurse consultant and I worked for a large corporation doing what I loved to do. Now I wasn’t management yet, but I already made the transition. And it probably [took me ] 15 years for management…that’s old school, that’s when they hired people into management with the highest technical expertise in an area; they don’t do that anymore but back then that’s what they did.
3) Did you find it to be a struggle? If so, can you recall any obstacles?
Yes, men have a network that women were not part of. For example if you are a woman and you don’t play golf, you might not have the networking that you want because the guys are all exclusive. Another barrier was that there weren’t any women for me to network with or be my mentor or sponsor, so I had to find a way to be useful at work and they didn’t discount me because I was a women or discount me because I was a nurse.
4) Did you change yourself to fit into the career world?
I think that I changed how I communicated and who I communicated with. So when you first start out at a corporation, you’re afraid to communicate with executive management and I got to a point where I was no longer afraid to do and was comfortable talking to them. To get comfortable talking to top executives, I did a lot of self self-education, so I read a lot of books on leadership, and I networked so I would know someone who was comfortable and close to the executive.
I think one of the things you must do–you might not overcome it—but you must manage it is that you must do things that are scary to you, like taking on a lot of responsibility that might be scary (i.e., taking on large projects, taking on extra work). You can’t be afraid of it; you just have to do it.
5) How did you balance your personal life with your work life?
I did not balance it and here is the thing: you have to do what you love. There are times when a work project may take a lot of your time and there are times in your life when you devote time to your children. Every person has to make that decision for [herself/himself]. But I’ve worked until 2:00am and my children were fed and well taken care of and were asleep, but I was up working because I wanted that to happen. I remember locking the door upstairs and my husband would be watching my 3-year-old, so that I could talk to an attorney and he wouldn’t hear children in the background because that was my job; you make strategic sacrifices.
6) What were some of your mistakes along the way to your ideal career goal?
One of the things career woman must be aware of is their perceptive (i.e., if they walk away from a room, what are the top three adjectives the executives or the people handing out the bonus, what are they going to say about you?) I relied very heavily on my technical expertise and as a nurse and as an administrator and I probably didn’t put enough emphasis on the fact that I am a very good manager and that I have a lot of emotional intelligence. From day one in your career, you always have to think about: what is the perception I want to portray?
Leaders are visionaries—they are passionate about their beliefs, they set clear goals to be achieved, and they never give up on their desires, even if completed in unconventional ways. We have witnessed creative leaders throughout history; look at Steve Jobs and the way he changed technology, Ghandi and his nonviolent approach to human conflict, The Beatles and their rock music that challenged the mainstream. All these leaders were innovative and wanted to make a change in their respective industries.
When we look at creative leaders in the past, we remember how and what they did to achieve their dreams. All these creative individuals gained popularity by igniting a spark in others; these leaders knew how to speak to a person’s soul rather than blatantly sale their mission. People felt personally connected with or intrigued by their words and ideas because these leaders defied the ordinary.
There are commonalities when we look at past leaders deemed as creative: they all provided a clear message of ideas, they essentially created the persona of an expert to their supporters, and they were able to maintain a dedicated and steady audience.
A growing issue in businesses and organizations today is employee retention. How do businesses keep their employees engaged and interested in their company? If we compare creative leaders with ordinary business leaders, we can see that the same tactics in the former works for the latter—being passionate goes a long way. It is believed that creative leaders have the ability to build teams, build collaborative work environments and provide the motivation to allow employees to think outside the box and take risks at work. This new concept is called, “Creative Intelligence.”
Statistics compiled by The Corporate Executive Board Company states that small businesses suffer greatly from their quality of labor because “replacing one person on a small team could be equivalent to replacing 10% or 20% of the workforce,” which makes employee retention very important for these businesses.
Business leaders must have a clear mission and know what kind of employee they wish to seek who will also fit well into their company culture. If they can not establish a clear message as to what they want represented, then why would anyone want to represent them? In this day and age, people are more motivated to do work for companies they believe in, so wouldn’t executive leaders want to find the perfect candidate who strives to make the company better? One way business leaders can do this is via assessment tools, which screens prospective candidates by using various tests to determine their skill levels and overall work ethic.
Progressive leaders should strive to use Creative Intelligence in the workplace. Their employees will be more engaged in their work and satisfied. Retention will be reduced and bottom line number will grow.
*e-VentExe is a full service Human Resource consulting firm that specializes in HR compliance, policy development, employee retention, training and development and assessment tools.
This month’s guest blog is brought to you by Stuart Furman, President of the Southern California Legal Center! Stuart’s law practice focuses on elder law issues and safe solutions for estate planning and long-term care. Contact Stuart at email@example.com.
I now have two jobs. Work and Caregiver.
My family does not have some divine exemption from becoming a caregiver for parents. I am 56 years old and my wife is 63. We along with my two siblings are providing caregiving services for three remaining parents. Does it affect my work? Does it affect all of our work and personal lives? You bet it does! Will caregiving affect your company’s employees? You bet it will!
The numbers of working caregivers is rising hyperbolically. About 25% of the baby boomers are currently caregiving for their parents in some form. Due to increased life expectancies, it is more common for employees to have to care for parents than in the past. This typically rears its head around age 50 as their parent(s) would then generally be in their 70s or older.
There are significant studies published that indicate the dollar cost to a company in lost productivity of full time working elder caregivers averages $2,211 per employee per year (between &17.1 and $33.6 BILLION per year). Also consider costs due to employees losing focus, undue stress and strain on a marriage and relationships with kids, and even the loss of home time to just relax and recharge.
Is this significant enough that companies and HR departments need to aggressively address this phenomenon?
The answer is simple…YES.
What does this mean for your company?
A substantial percentage of your company’s workforce is already providing ElderCare to their parent(s). This care is emotionally and physically draining and causes a whole buffet of side effects, including loss of concentration when at work, frequent workday interruptions, higher employee turnover, increased use of Family Leave Act for the time off, conversions from full-time to part-time employee status, valued employees quitting to become full time caregivers, and much more. Consider liability exposure due to the work of a less than attentive employee. This is compounded by the increase in personal stress, which can cause an increase in illnesses and use of more health care benefits.
By NOT addressing these eldercare issues in the workplace there IS a clear correlation to your company’s bottom line.
For an HR department, it is in the best interest of the company to have the employees, and your company, NOT FEAR the ElderCare role but rather BE READY AND PREPARED FOR IT. The ElderCare need will occur, it is only a question of when, for how long, and how much it will cost your company by not aggressively addressing this issue.
When we work with HR departments to institute ElderCare Crisis programs addressing employees as caregivers, the effects of such caregiving on the company can be reduced. There is comfort and a sense of solace with the employees in understanding what is ahead of them and that there are answers and help. Notwithstanding that there are no laws directly requiring organizations to have ElderCare programs in place, the economics of failing to address this problem mandates implementation of a program to address the employee ElderCare tsunami.
In concert with other programs that assist employees, we provide the tools for your employees to navigate the ElderCare challenges.
I look forward to talking with you about how to manage this impeding crisis and how to effectively manage it.
Being the president and CEO of an HR consulting firm, I was recently asked some questions as to what calls for a competitive employment benefits package in this day and age. In respect to Generation Y entering the workforce, these were my answers to the questions:
Q: From your observations, what do you think attracts more job candidates?
A: With the Millennias gaining a foothold in the workforce today, it is necessary for organizations to recognize their current and cutting edge talents and retain them inside companies. They are looking for job enhancement opportunities or they will become restless and move on to another opportunity. I would not call this job hopping per se, but more allowing them to work independent, challenge their thinking and decision making skills so that they feel empowered to continue to grow their skills. It is all about them and less about being loyal to the organization. If they don’t feel like they are getting what they expect from a job, they will just leave it. Money and stability is not high on their priority list. Learning and growing their skills is key to their success today. Therefore, an employer must have a flexible schedule to offer challenging tasks for them and flexible work schedule. They want to come and go without the baggage and responsibilities that the baby boomers craved for in their work. Again, work life balance is very important to the Millennias and they will stay in a job as long as these personal points are filled.
Q: What are you proud to offer to your employees?
A: With that said, I offer a very flexible work environment that allows the Millennias to learn new tasks, come to work during a time that is established by them, leave after the projects are completed and challenge their thinking every step of the way. I provide a lot of autonomy for them to grow their skills. What I get in return is fresh, current thought-provoking thoughts, ideas and projects that are not mainstream and creative to my clients.
We would like to welcome our first guest blog by our friends at CPA Corporation! The team at CPA Corporation provides great and insightful tips on staying ahead of competitors. Small business owners should take note!
Today’s small business owner is confronted with new business problems and opportunities on a regular basis, but rarely do they have the time to investigate all the possible solutions and opportunities. We at CPA Corporation want to become a valuable resource for businesses to help them solve these problems and take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
In an effort to do this, we will be posting frequent Blog posts several times each month featuring our (Small Business Advisor Toolkit) SBA. These Blog entries will include among other things: Best Practice Checklists, Self Assessment Questionnaires and modifiable Templates.
These tools in our SBA portfolio will incorporate the latest ideas in areas as diverse as customer and supplier relationships, financial matters, employee and industrial relations, production processes and waste management. Using best practice checklists, businesses can borrow from the best current knowledge and modify it to suit their particular circumstances. Best practice questionnaires can provide a diagnosis of a businesses’ current situation and suggest a range of suggestions for improving their business practices.
In addition, business owners can use the modifiable policy documents we post to quickly create policies that will cover all the essential aspects of the process without incurring the cost or taking up the time required by developing them from scratch.
How important is it to have a clearly written Vision and Mission Statement for your Business?
Our first post discusses one of the most important elements of a business which is the businesses’ vision and mission statements. We have all heard of these documents, but rarely do we see small business owners take the time to memorialize their vision into a clearly stated document.
A businesses’ mission statement should represents a picture of where the business wants to be in the future. The statement should do two things:
- It should explain to customers and other stakeholders what the business does.
- It should be motivational and provide a shared sense of purpose. This helps to create a focus for the efforts of all the employees and managers.
To help you develop a mission statement that communicates to your customers and motivates your employees, we are offering the following white paper: