Happy International Women’s Day to women and men all over the world! 2017 has already proved that the narrative of women’s rights continues to evolve and that there is still a lot of work to do. It’s been nothing short of inspirational to see women from all over the world using their voices for good – from the historic worldwide Women’s March on Washington to today’s “A Day Without Women” protest. With that said, the International Women’s Day campaign theme for this year couldn’t be more relevant: #BeBoldForChange.
To celebrate, Terakeet interviewed a few of our female directors and vice presidents to ask them to share both their experiences and how they’re being bold for change in their career, at Terakeet, and in their personal lives.
What is it about Terakeet that’s allowed you to grow and thrive the way you have? How do you feel your path would have changed at another company?
Angela Brooks – Vice President of Brand Strategy: When I began working at Terakeet, I learned very quickly what it meant to get scrappy and creatively problem solve when there wasn’t a clear road map to find the answer. I also learned that I needed to take things in stride — every failure or setback was just a lesson that would help me get better the next time around. I feel incredibly lucky that I was given this much latitude and freedom in my role from the very beginning of my career. It’s that freedom that enabled me to grow professionally and personally faster than I could have ever imagined and has no doubt helped to shape who I’ve become.
Kimberly Heffernan – Director of Finance: Every person in a top management role challenges not only their direct reports, but also themselves to constantly produce a higher quality product, a more efficient workflow, and a happier and more diverse workforce. This way of thinking permeates throughout the company and sets an expectation that things should constantly be changing for the better, and that problems, although ever-present, are okay, as long as you force yourself to come up with a solution — to look at yourself in the mirror and ask how you can impact the change that needs to happen. I can certainly say that I am doubtful that the personal and professional growth I’ve experienced at Terakeet would or could have been replicated elsewhere.
Brenna Bastian – Director of Recruiting: Terakeet has a homegrown leadership that continues to evolve. The company has built a foundation for people to be themselves; to innovate, to take risks, to fail. There is a blue collar mentality that stimulates hard work and determination. And, above all, there is a level of trust and an understanding that there is life outside of work. I can confidently say that the opportunities I’ve had to grow and innovate in three years at Terakeet would take a lifetime elsewhere.
I want the females here at Terakeet, no matter how long they’ve been a part of our team, to find their voice, challenge their colleagues, find growth through discomfort, and dare greatly.
–Shannon Reedy, Vice President of Account Management
How has your career success empowered you to change situations and relationships outside of your job?
Jennifer Thornton – Director of Human Resources: I learned early in my career that to be an effective leader I would need to create an environment of trust within my teams. In my experience, fostering that trust is simple when people can rely on me to be honest—to say I don’t know if I don’t know, to own up to my mistakes, to give credit where credit is due, to be appropriately transparent about my needs, frustrations, and concerns. By embracing and practicing the application of this value at work, I’ve also found myself more apt to engage in the same way at home. I now know that—whether at work or at home—open, honest communication creates healthy and productive relationships.
Shannon Reedy – Vice President of Account Management: It’s been really incredible to think back on my time with Terakeet and reflect on the pivotal moments and instances that at the time felt insignificant but proved otherwise. I’ve been fortunate to grow up in a relatively new industry, one in which trial and error is a daily practice. Over the years, I’ve learned to see situations, whether technical or interpersonal, in multiple dimensions and from various points of view. Having the ability to step back, think critically and consider where all parties are coming from in any challenging situation — with your family, friends or coworkers — has been a skill that’s enabled me to form productive relationships built on trust and understanding.
…most importantly, find your voice. We want to hear it.
–Angela Brooks, Vice President of Brand Strategy
Empowerment comes in many forms. How have you used your influence to help other women succeed in their own roles?
Angela: Sometimes, being a woman in the workplace can be hard. We tend to overthink what we say, how we’re perceived, whether or not our colleagues will see our boldness and assertiveness as a reflection of justified confidence or as brash, unappealing and/or too emotional. The list goes on. These are really difficult mental roadblocks to overcome, all of which I’ve personally struggled with and am pretty open about, especially with women that I work with. If there’s anything that I’ve tried to impart on the women I work with, it’s to reinforce that I believe in them. That it’s OK to acknowledge those thoughts, accept them, and then kick them to the damn curb. Focus on what you want, learn as much as you possibly can so you can improve and build credibility, tackle any challenge that comes your way with vigor, test your limits and most importantly, find your voice. We want to hear it.
Jennifer: As a human resources professional, I am often involved in sensitive, difficult conversations. In those conversations, it is not unusual for an employee to become emotional. While this certainly applies to both men and women, in my experience, an overwhelming majority of women become extremely apologetic for their “unprofessional” tears. I am quick to tell each and every person that, “Crying is not unprofessional; it is human.” This might seem like a very small thing, but it is my hope that, by giving people—especially women—permission to dismiss an antiquated, masculinized idea of professionalism (and also by underscoring it with my opinion that sensitivity is not a weakness but a virtue and hallmark of great leaders), I help break down future barriers to expressing themselves in an authentic way.
Shannon: I see myself in many females here who have just begun their career at Terakeet. It took me some time to find my voice and step out of my comfort zone when I first started. With some self-talk, asking myself ‘what’s the worst that can happen,’ and understanding that if I don’t speak up or step up, those actions can set a dangerous precedent and makes for an uphill battle going forward. I want the females here at Terakeet, no matter how long they’ve been a part of our team, to find their voice, challenge their colleagues and find growth through discomfort and dare greatly.
…look at yourself in the mirror and ask how you can impact the change that needs to happen.
–Kimberly Heffernan, Director of Finance
Do you have a bold, personal or work-related goal or ambition you’d like to share?
Angela: I’ve never actually shared this with anyone except my husband, but a long-term personal goal of mine is to publish a book. I figure I have at least 40 years to figure out what it will be about…and now there’s no going back. Accountability.
Brenna: I’m not sure I would consider this bold, but I think it tends to get overlooked these days: I hope to be a successful, career-minded individual, who also is a great mother, wife and friend. Rounding out my first year in parenthood and my second year in marriage, I know that this will constantly be tested, and finding the right balance will continue to be the greatest challenge.
Kimberly: Find balance! One of my biggest challenges on a daily basis is not only figuring out what needs to get done, but also where each of those to-do items fall by priority: my family, my job, my house, myself. A bigger challenge is accepting that not all of those things will actually get attended to. A goal of mine would be to set up short term goals with realistic deadlines — in both my personal and professional life — do my best to accomplish them, and not beat myself up too much if I don’t accomplish it all.