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Quickbite: You Are a Project Manager Recap
August 20, 2021
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Empowering Women Roundtable: Recap Blog

Empowering Women Roundtable Panel

Moderator:

Jennifer Magley is a former professional athlete. She is an NCAA Division head coach, entrepreneur and mother. Jennifer has received National media coverage most notably by USA Today, US News & World Report, CNN, ESPN, Foundr Magazine, and Thrive Global. Most recently she’s a newly published author of the leadership fable “How To Be Queen” through Archway Publishing.

Speaker Panel 

Q&A

Jennifer Magley: What was the defining moment in your career? Perhaps a risky move?

Erin Weesner: I think saying yes to Indy Eleven was the big jump that I took. I studied Accounting in college. I wanted to work in public accounting and then my roles after public accounting were still working with accountants pretty much every day. Each job that I took was primarily working with accountants, people with similar backgrounds, similar objectives. Then coming Indy Eleven, I was the only accountant, so that was a real change, but also my personality is that I very much don’t like to be bored, so being able to be in an environment where I’m challenged pretty much every day has been good for me because otherwise I would not feel fulfilled in my job just doing the same task every day. Being here has definitely been a good change for me, and also kind of risky.

Jennifer Magley: How can companies create a more inclusive workplace culture to drive systematic change, specifically for women in male dominated industries?

Lori Ball: If I were to boil down systemic, culture ridden change, I probably would focus on three things. One would be actual change management. The second one would be DEI definitions, which is diversity, equity, and inclusion. Those definitions, and then the third one is just simply, act. The first one being change management, it begins with the leadership and there are two ways that you can manage change. One is through being an advocate and being active about things and the other is being an intentional example. So the actions might be setting policy, setting definitions, changing law, proposing bills, hiring practices, compensation levels, and expectations. That’s really down the tactical side of things, but the other half of that is the intentional example. So women supporting women is a very big statement in an organization, and it doesn’t need to be overt. We don’t need to say, “Hey,  I’m a woman and I’m supporting you as a woman”. We do that through our actions and that comes through hiring women, promoting women, figuratively and literally.

I would ask the women who are listening to this: When was the last time that you promoted a woman, expanded or enhanced their career, gave them a raise and a title change, gave them special projects? And then figuratively: When was the last time you complimented someone in public or at the board table, or in front of their peers and things like that? We have to promote other women. 

The second thing I mentioned was defining what DEI means for the company. That’s the first question that you have to ask internally, Do we embrace that DEI definitions are important? My personal opinion, and my professional experience is that diversity, equity, and inclusion Is not an initiative. It is not an initiative and it shouldn’t be treated as an initiative. It is a cultural tenet of a company, and the people who are not DEI officers are the ones that need to embrace, endorse, and uplift all of the components around DEI. Some of the definitions might also include accountability metrics; as a business if we are reporting on what those definitions are and being transparent then that’s holding us accountable. A definition might be, we must have 50% of our executive leadership team be women. Well, let’s report on that. Let’s report on it monthly, quarterly, annually, whenever. Make it transparent. It’s not an aspiration. It’s an actual goal of a definition. If we’re talking about race, if we’re talking about compensation, we need to measure those things and report on those things. Then we have to decide: Are we measuring on ultimate success or are we measuring on progress on baseline? So, if there are no women on the board do we celebrate when we get one woman on the board or do we celebrate when we get 50%? Those are things that have to be determined ahead of time so that we know what success looks like. And then the action is, when we determine whether or not we’re going to work for a company, we have to align our priorities, and if inclusion is a priority, then we have to look at what the company looks like. What does their board look like? What does their group of advisers look like? What does the executive team look like? What do their customers look like? What do their employees look like? What kind of sponsorships do they give? Let’s see what their wallets says. Do they promote women? Do they support women’s organizations? Or whatever their definition of DEI is, but it’s aligning those priorities. And staying true to ourselves, that is how we institute change is through our actions and our alignment with companies.

Jennifer Magley: What advice do you have for rising professionals and leaders who are looking to develop their skills towards success?

Morgan Kuehnle: I would say the biggest advice that I have is to be humble. I think that young professionals coming out of school and going into careers, you always have to remember that you’re not going to meet the person who knows every single thing that could possibly be there to know. For me, I’ve been really deliberate to lean on people that have expertise in things that I may not have. That may be with in my own department or in other departments. I really like to try to remind myself that I don’t have to take on everything, and teach myself how to do everything. I have relationships with people that I’ve built and I have other people on my team who can back me to teach me things that I need to know, or I can go to them to seek advice or be able to grow myself in my own career because those are the things that later down the line, I become that person for someone else. That was my biggest thing is coming out of college and making those relationships and realizing that you’re building your network, but you are also building your team to have someone to catch you when you fall.

Erin Weesner: I would say don’t wait to be told to do something. If you see something that needs to be improved, a project that you think would benefit the company, or a volunteer organization. If you see a need, go for it. There’s times where maybe there’s a project I know I need to get to and I know it needs to get done, but if someone else recognizes that and sees it, if you come to me and say, “Hey, I noticed this and I would like to try and help fix it”. That would be amazing, so I think that’s also how you learn, and it shows that you care about the business and that you are willing to dig in and make improvements and better the company that might help everyone involved. I definitely think if you see a need, raise your hand and try to help out.

Lori Ball: Don’t be one-dimensional. I think it kind of blends with what we’ve already heard in that when you have an opportunity to make a lateral move to expand your knowledge, to expand your experience; you’re also expanding your value  to a company. The more you learn the more value you produce for a company, and of course, the better qualified you become. It’s a win-win situation there and I would also advocate for asking for experience, and asking for special projects. Showing initiative.This is for career building. This advice is for people who are ambitious career building. Your job is not just a job, it’s a potential career. It’s a potential life for you. The second thing that I would say is that everything is negotiable, and that’s where women need lessons. A lot of times women will go into an interview and feel grateful if they’re offered more than they had in their mind. The next question should be how much more is this position worth and so, everything is negotiable. PTO time, time in the office, remote options, benefits, life Insurance  base pay,  bonus percentage, extra bonuses for projects, travel  allowances, everything is negotiable. I would encourage folks to get to know what a company could offer, and get to know what others have had in their career. Like myself, what is negotiable? The list might be short when they start their career and then it will get longer and longer, but everything is negotiable. In a decent, civil, professional way. 

Jennifer Magley: Any advice or wisdom on how to conquer self doubt especially when navigating a career in a male dominated industry?

Erin Weesner: Yeah so my profession is an accountant, and it’s kind of interesting when I was looking, I was reading some articles and stuff,  and actually women are the dominant gender in the accounting profession. About 60% of accountants are women, and looking back on my career I’ve mostly had female supervisors and everything so it’s kind of one of those things where you’re like, “Oh yeah,  this is a male-dominated career”. I feel  like from my position it hasn’t been as blatantly obvious, but when you look at Morgan’s position and things like that, and the sports industry in general it really is. I think my reaction is,  why not you? Go for it. You are totally worthy to be here. There’s no reason why, just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t work in this industry. I think if you apply for a job and you’re a worthy candidate your work is going to show for itself. I just think don’t let that statistic be a reason for you to not try. If it’s a place you want to be; if it’s an industry you like then go for it. There’s no reason for you to not try.

Morgan Kuehnle: I think a big thing for me is to constantly remind myself of my worth and that there’s going to be countless times that I stumble. There have been countless times that I’ve messed up major things within my role even back when I had a part-time job. There’s things where you’re going to stumble and you’re going to fall,  what would I like to remind myself In that self-doubt is that no matter what career, job I’ve had, no matter what its dominated as, it’s that every single person is going to fall at some point. It’s just a matter of how you pick yourself up, how you dust yourself off and how you collect yourself to do better. A big slogan for me and for my department and employees, is just be better. For me, I strive everyday to be better than I was yesterday, then I was last match, last month, and that really pushes me to continue to say; when I have those days when everything seems to be exploding in my face and I’m having self doubts about my career even if I love what I’m doing, I have to remind myself that I got here for a reason and I love my job for a reason. There’s so many things that I can continue to improve on and be better everyday.

Lori Ball: I have been told that I have an ability to ignore. No, I think acknowledging that we’re human beings, acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers is a piece of humble pie that is important. But I think humility and moderation apply to business, because if you think about the difference between men and women: Women feel lucky to get things. Women acknowledge mistakes, errors, and things like that. Men completely ignore them and move on; and think that others should be lucky for what they have contributed. So I think there’s lessons that we can learn from each other, right? But, how I have been able to conquer it is just I have a lot of people around me that are supportive and help me get back into the world of reality. I have a mantra as well. Mine is to do good. Be kind and do good, and I like the be better, right? I like that a lot because none of us is perfect but if we’ve got our eye on the prize, and we’re working in that direction, good things will happen. Great things will happen and we will influence others by doing that because they’ll experience the same things that we have.

Jennifer Magley: What is a leadership lesson that you’ve learned that is unique to being a woman leader?

Erin Weesner: I will say that I’ve learned that I’m not always right and I’m not always going to have the answers. I’m not afraid to admit that, but I’m also not afraid to ask you to come help me solve the problem. I may not have all the answers, but please help me figure it out, and if you know a better way to do something. If you recognize it, please tell me. I want to learn. I want someone to tell me, “ Hey let’s try this way and see if it works better”.  I am willing to admit I’m not always right.

Morgan Kuehnle: I’ll say, most definitely, is to be proud. Be proud of what you are building in your career, what you’re building in your personal life, what boundaries you’re setting between work and personal life. What  relationships you’re building and your growth. You have to celebrate your wins, and I think it’s really important to avoid that self doubt in your career. As a woman, there are not always people there to celebrate your wins depending on what industry you’re working in until you’ve got to be that cheerleader for yourself. 

Lori Ball:  One of the lessons that I’ve learned, specific to women, is that humility in moderation is something that we need to work on, because when we start talking about what we do, why we did it, and how successful it is, it feels arrogant and it feels boastful, but in fact, all we’re doing is articulating factual things. If we need a deadline, if we increase profits, if we win, all of those things are factual things that we need to get more comfortable articulating because people don’t recognize our success unless we draw attention to it. Humility in moderation means that we’re not boastful.It’s a very important lesson, and it’s very difficult to manage for women. The other one that I’ve learned, and I still get it wrong every day, that if something is crystal clear to me, it probably isn’t. If it’s crystal clear to me it probably isn’t so it deserves a little bit more attention. I either use diverse communication, brainstorming, debating, to either defend what I’m thinking or change my mind. But it does need to be debated. If it’s clear it probably isn’t.

Our signature Ignite the Torch Annual Awards event is on October, 21st 2021. It is a celebratory event to commemorate Pass the Torch community members who have gone above and beyond to “pass the torch” to others. To register and learn more, click here.

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