Mindy Marques Gonzalez remembers when she was asked to define her career ambitions at the Miami Herald. She said her goal was to be managing editor, and not the top job of executive editor. She limited herself.
Kim Stone has worked for the Miami Heat for 21 years, and yet, when the big promotion came in 2006, she first questioned if she was the right choice because she was a woman.
Rosalyn Durant of ESPN negotiates complex contracts and formulates successful business strategies. But she still checks her email language every day, ensuring she is not couching her words in weaker terms often used by women to seem less bossy in business.
They are successful women in sports and media. Three women who have worked their way up the corporate ladder as leaders and now powerful executives. Durant is a senior vice president for college networks at ESPN. Stone is the executive vice president of the Miami Heat and general manager of American Airlines Arena, the home of the Heat. Marques Gonzalez is the executive editor of the Miami Herald.
And three women who shared their lessons learned during their journeys to the top during AWSM’s Friday breakfast panel, entitled “A Seat at the Table”, moderated by Prof. Kathleen McElroy from the University of Texas.
“I thought I had a clear plan for my career when I started, I do this, and this, then this,” Durant said. “I quickly learned that is not how it works. Remember that a step is a step in your career – sometimes the steps are small, sometimes big, sometimes lateral, sometimes steps I didn’t plan or see coming. Growth for me has come from openness to new opportunities, different experiences.
“I am still climbing, still pushing myself to be the best.”
The message was clear: say yes to opportunity. You may not feel ready for change, or possibly be scared. But saying no because of fear or self-doubt could close a door that could lead to your next great career move.
“As women, we are very verbal about our insecurities. Men feel that way too, but they don’t say it like we do,” Marques Gonzalez said. “As women, we feel if we work hard enough, sit here and do our jobs well, we will be noticed and we will get the promotion or raise. That’s not how it works. We have to go for it.
“We have save those insecurities for other places, call your mom, spouse, significant other and tell them. Don’t verbalize it at work, and remember to go for it.”
Stone has learned how to be an effective leader because she has learned to be authentic and confident in her managing of different personalities.
“Be who you are, don’t let people put labels on you,” Stone said, when describing the advice she would give to her younger self. “Don’t let people make you deviate from your values. If a job does not feel right, leave. Don’t waste your time or their time.
“You do not have to settle. I haven’t and it has gotten me here.”
– Joanne Gerstner