Sarah shares a panel discussion from the Service Council Virtual Symposium with Linda Tucci of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Dr. Marlene Kolodziej of RICOH USA, Sophia Williams of NCR, Sonya Lacore of Southwest Airlines, and Cindy Etherington of Dell about how they are leading through this time of immense change.
Sarah Nicastro: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for this session, Women in Service: Leading the Industry Through Change. My name is Sarah Nicastro. I am field service evangelist and creator of the future of field service. I’m so excited to be here today. I will be moderating the session with this wonderful panel and I’m very excited for our conversation. I am going to ask each of our panelists to introduce themselves, to talk just briefly about the organizations that they’re with and what their roles are. Sonya, do you mind starting?
Sonya Lacore: I’m happy to. Hello everybody. It’s wonderful to be here today. I’m Sonya Lacore, I work for Southwest Airlines. I’m starting my 19th year there. I started as vice president of our in flight operations which basically means I support and am an advocate for our almost 17,000 flight attendants. Started my career as a flight attendant and served in a variety of roles and now I get to have the privilege of leading them. So happy to be with all of you today and can’t wait to hear from the other ladies.
Sarah Nicastro: Thank you Sonya. Linda, can you go next?
Linda Tucci: Sure thing. I’m Linda Tucci. I’ve been at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics as the global director for our technical solutions center for the past five years. Our company manufactures product for blood testing and that includes both diagnostic analysis and also blood transfusion compatibility. My team provides technical remote support for our customers and escalation support to field personnel. Our customers are primarily medial technologists the ones that my team supports. Those working in hospital or reference laboratories and they run the analyzers that produce the results and it’s such a critical role in healthcare. I’m really proud that I’ve served as a medical technologist. For the past 20 years I’ve held various roles in service management in the medical device sector and I’m really happy to be part of this panel today.
Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Thank you Linda. Sophia, can you go next please?
Sophia Williams: Sure. I’m Sophia Williams and I run the telecom and technology division of NCOR and basically that division is support service provider, clients we’re the world’s largest service provider in tech OEM’s and delivering their services solutions on behalf of their enterprise customers. I’ve been in services for a number of years. I started out in sales and then I managed sales organization and then I had a general manager role and I fell in love with services because I think services is such a key part of our ability to ensure that we keep our customers very happy and we therefore can drive incremental revenue. That’s what I do as part of NCOR corporation.
Sarah Nicastro: Thank you Sophia and I agree. Service is where it’s at. Cindy?
Cindy Etherington: Thanks. Hey everybody, Cindy Etherington. I’m with Dell Technologies. I’ve been here for about nine years and I lead our education services business. We’re a business unit within Dell Technologies Services and we’re responsible for three things. We really provide learning solutions to our customers to make sure they get the best return on their Dell Technologies investments. We also support our partners and enable them so that they represent Dell Technologies to the best of their ability in the market and then thirdly we support all of our internal team members, 140,000 or so of them for all of the technical training on our products on our portfolio. We also do some cross company learning platforms for efficiencies and effectiveness. It makes sense for the company to have one of something versus numerous of them so our learning management system and our learning records tour and our learning experience platform we manage that for Dell Technologies. Spent my entire career in the technologies sector, mostly in services and I’m passionate about enabling the next generation of leaders, in particular supporting young professionals and diverse professionals and also women in technology.
Sarah Nicastro: That’s awesome. Okay, and Marlene.
Marlene Kolodziej: Hi. Thank you it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m the vice president of centralized services for Ricoh USA and my role is providing customer support for all of Ricoh hardware and software services and products as well as providing IT support both white label and external support and certainly having spent more than 30 years now I’m giving my age away but more than 30 years in IT I’m now on the business side but still providing services and support which I find is just so critical especially as in this day and age helping our customers find the most success based on where they’re at in their environment today and in their situation especially as the world is changing so rapidly.
Sarah Nicastro: Well thank you all so much for doing the introductions. I like to have panelists introduce themselves because that gets me off the hook and being fearful of mispronouncing everyone’s names. Thank you and I at Future of Field Service we’ve had a Women in Service series for the last couple of years where we’ve really taken a deep dive in article form and podcast form into women’s journeys and I think that when I started covering this space 13, 14 years ago I was oftentimes the only female in a room and sometimes that is still the case although it’s certainly improving. I think until that has completely evolved it is important to showcase these types of conversations and I’m very thankful to the service council for having us all here today to do this.
Sarah Nicastro: I have prepared what I think are some good questions for these ladies and we’re going to walk through those but certainly feel free to submit your own questions as well. I will be keeping an eye on the Q and A chat and if we have some good questions come in I will incorporate them into our conversation today. Without further ado, let’s get started. I’m going to ask each of you to answer this first question. The first question is really talking about if you think of your journey as a female leader, what would you say the biggest challenges and the biggest advantages have been for you? Cindy, can you start?
Cindy Etherington: Yeah, it’s actual thought provoking question Sarah and I think there’s many challenges and many advantages of being a woman as well as there’s advantages and challenges for lots of differentiation whether it be gender or ethnicity, race, background, religion, whatever that might be. The first thing that comes to my mind interestingly enough you just referenced and that is for most of my career and in particular earlier in my career, I was the only woman. One of very few women in the room whether that be within the company that I worked for at the time or I was in sales for a good portion of my career as well or with our customers and partners. Making sure that I found a way to have my voice be heard was a challenge. It was definitely feeling like one of the crowd, one of the group, equal playing field was certainly a challenge but it was also an advantage that I had at the same time. It’s almost like your strength is also your weakness in some cases where I could use the fact that I was different and I had a different way of thinking of things to give myself a platform and to be heard.
Cindy Etherington: That’s the first thing that comes to mind for me. I’ve tried to focus in my career on my strengths, many of which I think are strengths because I am a woman. Few that come to mind, empathy and being able to put yourself in the shoes of your customers or your partners or your team members. Being realistically optimistic. I think others follow leaders who are optimistic about what the future holds and then I’d say relationship building which is I think a strength of many women, not that men are not but definitely a woman’s strength for fostering teamwork and collaboration. Taking advantage of being a woman is one thing and then figuring out what are the strengths that I bring to the table as a woman and really leveraging them was what I chose and still do choose to focus on.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah thank you Cindy. One of the things I wanted to comment on that you said is oftentimes the strength and the weakness are sort of different sides of the same coin, right? Being the only woman in the room is a challenge but it can also be an opportunity. I think the struggle there is building the confidence or finding the confidence to leverage that platform. That’s something I know early in my career I struggled with. I was intimidated to be the only woman in the room so I would stay quiet instead of speaking up and it took me some years to kind of flex those muscles to be able to feel confident in my own voice. I think that that’s a struggle that is shared I’m sure.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let’s keep going with this same question. Challenges, advantages. Sophia, can you go next?
Sophia Williams: Yeah, I will and I’ll try to hit something maybe a little different than other folks other than I will say that clearly when I started years ago I was definitely the only female in the room and frankly in some parts the globe, we run a global business, I’m still often the only female in the room. Early on I think there probably were some challenges and I think they quickly were overcome and I had to kind of think back when it was a thought provoking question, I had to think back to those days but I am a female leader that has attributes that at least back when I first started working and had leadership roles were more attributed to male attributes if you will. Very assertive, very action oriented, very if it’s good for the business, I’m going to go for it without apology. Forceful, et cetera.
Sophia Williams: I think that was basically… It’s kind of like a whirlwind maybe to some folks and was kind of unanticipated. I think some of the challenge I had there was initially not being taken as seriously just because of my gender and the fact that I may have been the only woman in the room. It became an advantage pretty quickly because I was able to be the curve ball. I had a boss once that said, “Damn, you’re a curve ball. You’re the curve ball,” not expecting for someone to be as strong. I think at the end of the day I was able to navigate and execute turbulent waters as a result of that with great success. I would say that very quickly in terms of developing your brand, I think that the brand of an individual is very important regardless of their gender. In this case, the question is about gender.
Sophia Williams: My brand was one that was very focused on getting it done, getting the job done, a say do ratio of 100%. If I say that I’m going to do it we will deliver it 100% of the time. Those kind of brand attributes very quickly overshadowed my gender. It’s been really years and years since I’ve felt disadvantaged in any way by being a woman. I think because in large part the brand that one creates is more valued than necessarily the gender of that person. Overall, I would say there’s still far too few women in technology services and in technology overall and I love to mentor women and I love to spend time with young college students in the STEM environment to be able to encourage their activities and so forth. Honestly I would say that it’s been a long time since it’s been a disadvantage and nor has it been an advantage in a long time. In my mind you bring your brand and what you do to the table and regardless of your gender or anything else about you if that brand is something people can count on consistently whatever it happens to be, then the rest is just about performance.
Sarah Nicastro: Thank you Sophia. Love those points. Linda, can you go next?
Linda Tucci: I would say for me the main advantage… I’ve been really lucky in my career to be surrounded by people that were very supportive of women in leadership roles and also had great mentors that were willing to spend time, generous with their time with me and I would even say more importantly willing to tell me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it in a way that I could hear it. I was really lucky in that regard. Maybe to take a different spin on challenge, I would actually say that my main challenge for me is that I got in my own way especially early on in my career when I first became a manager. You could’ve written a book about me, The Five Dysfunctions of Linda. Do you know what I mean? I did everything wrong or at least I felt that way trying to adapt other styles rather than stopping and uncovering my own. Maybe taking myself too seriously.
Linda Tucci: It took me a while to realize the importance of being authentic. To uncover my own style, to build on it and to really focus on my strengths as said before and I’m a big advocate to really build on your strengths, leverage and develop those skills that come innate or you can grow into and so I would just add those key points to the conversation.
Sarah Nicastro: Wonderful. Sonya?
Sonya Lacore: I love what some of the other ladies have said. One of the things that I’m a big fan of is establishing your personal plan and what that looks like. For me, especially in the customer service industry that translates into kindness and compassion and empathy and I think sometimes the challenge can be that politeness can be mistaken for weakness. I think for me although it hasn’t really been a challenge because I agree with Linda if you leverage your strengths you know that you have them and then you just share those.
Sonya Lacore: I happened to serve in an operational group where I am the only female out of 22 people. I go into that meeting every Monday and I kind of play this little game with myself of okay, take gender out of it. Would I still say or do what I’m about to do and the answer is always yes I am because I’m going to follow my heart and I’m going to back it up with facts, data of course but there’s people who know me know that I also am a really big fan of I don’t think work works without a little bit of play. I like to be the one to go in and incorporate, “Hey, take the first five minutes. How was your weekend? Tell me a little bit about you on a personal level,” and I think when you do that just kind of puts everybody on the same playing field. Everybody’s getting a little bit more relaxed. Then I think you can really start debating and be productive.
Sonya Lacore: I just think having a softer approach sometimes is really an advantage and it allows you to lead from the heart and just as Linda said, just be you.
Sarah Nicastro: I love that. You know what I think is interesting? I saw Marlene just dropped off and hopefully she’ll come right back on but I’m noticing the differences between Sophia’s response and Sonya’s response and I love it, right? It’s a really good illustration of number one there’s no right way to lead and number two, there no right way to be a woman or a females or there’s no necessarily hard and fast rules of attributes. For me personally I identified Sophia with what you said a lot. Some of those same characteristics you mentioned in terms of your assertiveness and in certain professional situations that where I’ve been surrounded by a lot of folks that maybe didn’t appreciate those as female characteristics or something that would’ve been delivered in this same way by a male counterpart was just perceived differently because it was coming from me as a female, that’s very frustrating.
Sarah Nicastro: Again, it takes time and confidence to, when you’re questioned feel comfortable defending yourself and defending your position instead of just shrinking down and saying less as a result of that. I think I used to, Sonya to your point kind of feel like I workshop doing something wrong by not being softer or some of the characteristics that you love about yourself and it took me some time to just feel comfortable in I am who I am, right? Everyone has different strengths and it’s up to us to not waste time wanting to be different but to be the best us we can be. Marlene, can you talk a little bit about your own challenges and advantages?
Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you for asking. I think I echo a lot of what all of these strong women were talking about where there’s a disconnect between what’s on the outside in a sense to perhaps the strength and the persona that’s coming through on the inside. We have certain… We’re assigned certain behaviors in a sense as a woman there’s this empathetic, softer sort of expectation of behavior. For me personally I was raised as a tomboy and I grew up in the technology industry so usually the only female and surrounded by men and sort of in the early ’80s and PC’s and laptops and desktops and data center and network so you sort of were the one that ran the wire frame and constructed the data centers and it was very masculine environment but when you think about being a female there’s a certain expectation of how you’re behaving versus how you want to behave or how you show your strength.
Marlene Kolodziej: I think that was the battle is, and even today there’s a bit of that disconnect between what’s seen on the outside versus truly what’s on the inside. Certainly all of us have been very successful in our roles and what we do and there’s been a lot of bruises along the way but I think… This is on my LinkedIn if any of read the story I talk about how I had an amazing supportive male boss who at the time when there was a disconnect between what I was projecting versus being female this person had the wherewithal to ask, “Marlene, if you were a man would you have these same issues?” The answer was no. That was an enlightening learning experience for me to realize that I also had to adapt a little bit as well as hoping others grow to understand that sometimes the inside and the outside might be disconnected based on who you are and how you were raised and your perception of traditional male or traditional female roles.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. Marlene, I think we need to check your connection. I caught what you said but it is… You are very choppy. I don’t know if you want to maybe disconnect and reconnect once more and hopefully that would help. You were good in the beginning and then when you dropped off and joined back in. Sophia coming back to what you had said about your leadership style. You did describe your leadership style already. What I want to ask you instead of describing it is how would you say it has evolved or refined throughout your career?
Sophia Williams: Well, I think the original question was really more about the attributes of myself as a person and particularly in an environment but as I’ve led teams I guess my leadership style certainly has evolved over time, no question. I would say if I had to describe it in one word and I actually went back because we do a lot of… Especially since COVID we’ve had some really fun exercises as a team that we’ve done where we’ll have my HR VP and everybody submits something they’re very proud about in dealing with everybody on the team, my leadership team and so forth so I’ve gone back and looked at all those and I would say the one word if I had to describe it in one word would be deeply engaged. I’m talking about me with my team. That was kind of how I’m responding to this question.
Sophia Williams: I guess that’s true really within the corporation as well as deeply engaged but when I say that, what does that mean? Certainly it’s changed over time. I am so transparent as a leader and again I am just as transparent as the day is long because I find that decisions made by the leadership team are much better decisions than if I make them on my own. I’m sure the earlier in my career I probably didn’t feel that way. I probably felt, “I’m the leader, I’ve got to take control, I’ve got to make these decisions.” Everything I do is very inclusive. Everybody has a vote. We debate important issues. We all align before that we lead as well and I try to listen and I probably wasn’t as good of a listener earlier in my career.
Sophia Williams: I try to listen very carefully to the different points of view because you know what? I reserve the right to get smarter and I will tell you that as I tell my team, I’ve got a leadership team of about 14 people, we are 14 times better than any one of us individually because we all have different experiences, we all have different points of view, et cetera. I set the strategic priorities on our customers. Customers are everything to me because we don’t exist if not for our customers. Then I hear from everybody and then we align on that. Then I would say the culture I’ve got, people… I’m very proud of this culture and it’s not the culture that I probably had early on but it’s a highly accountable, high performing culture, no question about it. It’s also deeply familial. Kind of like steeped in friendship not just accountability but in friendship.
Sophia Williams: We really take care of each other in my organization and on my team. We hold each other accountable so it doesn’t mean… you know when you said the difference between myself and Sonya it’s… I try to create a leadership style that really has a little bit of both. Deep accountability, high performance culture but my gosh it’s very familial. Spending time with people, how are their families, knowing what their kids are doing and really spending time to understand what their needs are. I would say in the midst of COVID you have to have different listening because some people… They have a certain persona, their brand if you will and you start to see challenges. I’ve had a couple people in my leadership team that I’ve highly encouraged, “Take a few days off. I don’t want to hear from you for a couple of days. Go do something. I know you can’t go anywhere necessarily but go do something just whatever you want to do.”
Sophia Williams: Really listening, highly engaged and the last thing I would say that’s definitely something I have learned over time is a willingness to be vulnerable. I think that vulnerability is such a great leadership trait because that makes you very engaged. I don’t have the answers for everything and anyone that thinks they do they’re definitely wrong, right? I have a point of view and it’s a point of view and my experience oft times makes that point of view have some validity to it, right? Sometimes I just am stumped with a situation and I’ll throw it open to the team. “Guys, I’m not sure what to do here. I’ve got a couple ideas,” but that’s being vulnerable and that’s okay. I would say deeply engaged is my leadership style and definitely it has changed over time.
Sarah Nicastro: I love it. I reserve the right to get smarter. I really really like that. I also think when you were talking about the level of engagement and kind of the familial feel you have with your team, I was kind of thinking about my own team and the folks that I work with day to day and when you have that bond, it’s not just accountability. It’s way more than that because it’s not about being accountable for getting your job done. You genuinely care about the people you’re working with and the mission you’re working towards and the role that each of you play in that so I really like that.
Cindy Etherington: Sophia, I think that’s a great comment about you reserve the right to get smarter. I love that comment. I had a mentor early in my career and he probably gave me the best advice I’ve ever received and it was really silly at the time and I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant. He had to explain it to me a little bit more but it was very simply, “Be a sponge.” He said, “Surround yourself with great people and continuously learn from them.”
Sophia Williams: Agreed, agreed.
Cindy Etherington: Continuous learning is a journey and it’s fun and what keep things fresh and exciting and new so I love your perspective there.
Sophia Williams: I appreciate that and I’ll tell you, the interesting thing is if you ask all of my leadership team in unison they will answer this question the same way. What does Sophia says sets you free? The answer is talent. Talent sets you free. Bring in the right people and then take care of them and create that bond but we really do care for each other and be sponge and believe me I do reserve the right to get smarter every single day.
Sarah Nicastro: That’s awesome. Okay, I want to shift gears a little bit. COVID has been brought up a couple times in our conversation and it’s obviously been a huge part of our lives this year and continues to be. It’s not just that situation though. There’s a lot of change happening now. There’s a lot of different areas of change in our world today and we are all navigating it personally but I’m interested in talking about how you’re navigating it with your teams and your leadership. With all of the change that is happening in our world, what is your best thoughts, advice, input on how you lead through change? Marlene, let’s try you out and see how this audio’s sounding.
Marlene Kolodziej: When you think about navigating through COVID and through a pandemic, I recently had put together a presentation around business continuity and disaster recovery and I tell everyone, you need to write these type of models as if you don’t exist. You’re dead in a sense and I don’t like to quite say that but it really is true that you should be prepared for fire or flood and never, ever imagine that I’d have to prepare for a pandemic. I think for us it’s around making sure that the change has been not only shifting from an office to remote work force but really helping many of our peers and our staff adapt to this change. I think as women in particular I think a lot of the caregiving role for children and for school and for the house fall on their shoulders as well. Not to say that there’s not many men who are equal contributors or sole contributors in this case but I find for much of my staff the burden of home schooling and trying to do their job and trying to keep the house running does fall on their shoulders.
Marlene Kolodziej: I think for all of us it’s been really around being creative in terms of your solutions to help all of your staff and all of your workers be successful in this changing environment, in this unsure state to continue to deliver business and help our customers be successful.
Sarah Nicastro: Good. Good points. Anybody want to volunteer to go next?
Linda Tucci: Yeah, actually I would. It’s interesting when I hear that question. I put it in the context of my experience and earlier this year my mom passed away at the age of 96. It was right before COVID blew up and so coming back to work… I paused, I went to be with my mom, she passed away, I came back and the world changed. I was in such a fragile state and I felt it really important just to share my experience with my team openly and to tap onto that importance of vulnerability and sharing how I was struggling and how I was responding to that inclusive to taking advantage of our great employee assistance program here at Ortho. Having the conversations that needed to take place, telling my boss, “You know something? I need compassion right now. I really need support right now,” and that really made me say am I demonstrating that compassion to others? Everybody has their story. 2020, it isn’t for wimps. Everything is being thrown at us and I encouraged my entire team… I did a series of town halls in the July time frame that if they’re struggling to find somebody to talk to.
Linda Tucci: It’s so often in service organizations no matter gender that we’re always focused outwardly and I would say that the topic of self compassion, we talked about it openly and I used my experience so that maybe there could also have a comfort level to start that dialogue. I would also say practically and in my team, my management team historically is on site, right? While we do have remote workers historically the managers are used to being on site seeing their folks and practically we did some modules for our management team around the shift to managing virtually.
Linda Tucci: I would also say with our team we spoke very openly because to a point made earlier there’s so much change happening within our own organization. What was happening with the projects? What could we share? We talked openly about the degree of change on top of everything happening in the world with the degree of change at work, to be as transparent as possible and to open up different mechanisms of getting bi-directional dialogue taking place. It’s really that dialogue in communication. It’s not only key, it’s critical, it’s crucial. It’s more important than ever and I would say for me personally I’m really taking more time for me. More planning and thinking time and really focusing on the present. My personal experience has been it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s happening. Focus on what’s most important in the moment, remember that I matter and that in order to do my best that I have to really take care of myself and encourage that within my team as well.
Sarah Nicastro: I think it’s such an important example to set for your team. I was thinking particularly if you’ve transitioned from in person work to remote work this year. It’s very easy for people to start feeling isolated and if you’re struggling with something work related, perhaps it feels easy to speak up and say, “Hey, I really need help with this but it’s so easy for some of those personal struggles to be invisible to the people you work with and I think that your speaking up and sharing that probably made your team feel so empowered to come to you if they needed that type of support from you. I just think that’s a really really important point and thank you for sharing that story.
Sonya Lacore: Sarah, I’ll go next if you don’t mind. I love the ladies talking about vulnerability and transparency. I’m such a fan of transparency and through this I would say that agility has also been my keyword probably for the year because change is coming so fast and we make our decisions based on the information we have right at hand in front of us today and tomorrow that changes. I’ll just be transparent and say I was experiencing decision fatigue not because of making too many decisions but because the decisions I was making I second guessed them the next day because new information came.
Sonya Lacore: Even to the point where I was passionate about change that we made, communicated it one day to 17,000 people and then the very next day new information came and I had to go back and say, “I know I said that was really important yesterday and today guess what? We’re going to pivot and that taught me to just ask for grace and give myself grace because I think as women we have a tendency to beat ourselves up over the past decisions instead of just saying, “Pivot, move on and let’s go from here.” I think that’s what helped me. I think on a more professional level I’m energized when I think about helping others realize the value of what they bring. I don’t want to minimize certainly the pandemic but I’m trying to find ways to look for joy and one of the ways to find that joy, it might be for some people it might be that you find it in your family. It might be that you find it in your job.
Sonya Lacore: I think what’s really interesting is some people just need to know that the value they bring, our job is to help them see that value and encourage them because they’re panicked enough about job security, having to take care of homeschooling or whatever it may be, women or men I think it’s just really key. I do think that sometimes happiness can hide itself in life’s smallest details and just looking for those moments of happiness is what I think is helping me get my team through it.
Sarah Nicastro: Very good points. Cindy or Sophia?
Cindy Etherington: Yeah, I think I love the topic of change because I think change is ever present and change 99.9% of the time I like to think leads to opportunity. As a leader, what I do relative to helping my team through changes, I’ve kind of established a culture of change in the organization and make sure that everybody understands that everything is changing at a faster pace than ever before especially the technology industry as a matter of fact so we’re going to make the most of it. We dwell on the opportunities that the change creates. I also think it’s important that we as leaders recognize the fact that people go through change at a different pace and that’s their prerogative. We can’t make them go faster and understand and turn that back on but we can help them with understanding the reason for the change, the outcome of the change and help them balance the time they need to get through the process and acceptance of the change and move forward with the need that we have as leaders to actually get the change done. I think that balance falls on us an awful lot as leaders. I think the one thing that it takes to make that happen is communicate, communicate, communicate.
Cindy Etherington: I think Sonya just mentioned it. Before, during, after. If you have to re-pivot to Sonya’s point go re-pivot fast. Be open, be transparent, explain what happened and again get back on that change train and help people along.
Sophia Williams: I think I’m the last one on this question but I think everything everyone said has just been amazing. I’m learning from this and I love the whole conversation about finding your joy and I couldn’t agree more Cindy that change is constant and certainly not to minimize COVID but in my business… I have a sales organization, I have a product development organization, a services delivery organization, the whole general management role and so particularly right off the bat from the sales teams, there’s a lot of concern certainly about job security overall but also about just the fact are customers going to be buying things right now and all that. To your point, I am one of those folks, I guess the eternal optimist but every time there’s a challenge, a really big challenge there’s always opportunity. Always opportunity. What is that? Let’s figure that out together.
Sophia Williams: I’m in the networking world. Well, networks have become more important. Yes, people are sweating their assets longer but let’s come up with new solutions. Let’s come up with new things to help our customers weather the storm better and as a result we feel better about ourselves and as a result we’re seeing there is opportunity because at some point this will be behind us, hopefully sooner rather than later. I really wanted to reemphasize I thought it was a brilliant point you made. I would say that I’m just in touch with my LT for sure, my leadership team for sure very frequently. We’ve always had one on one’s but I actually reach out to them just for a chat like independent of business 101’s. How are you doing? How’s the family? It’s like those concerns that are invisible I think someone had said earlier about the invisibility.
Sophia Williams: Some things you can see, some things you can’t see and having a listening and knowing your team well enough and knowing when you need to encourage them to take a little time off or you need to have a different levels of conversation, et cetera. Yeah, I think that also doing what I’ve never done before. I’ve never exercised before in my life, I never have. I should. I’m terrible to admit that but I now get up at… Because we had kind of a challenge on our team. One of the things we did to kind of keep things fun. I get up at 4:30 every morning I do my deep exercise because I have to get back home and do my video because I do think video’s important on every call. I really believe that. I get my clothes on, I get my suit on, I put my makeup on, roll my hair which is a difficult thing to do after one has been exercising for an hour, hour and half but I do that and I shared that with the team so that’s another vulnerability. This is something I’ve never done before. I’m doing it and encourage you guys to do it.
Sophia Williams: One of my guys in London, I told him about my morning walks and I was like, “Why don’t you do that?” He was like, “Well I can’t do it in the morning.” I said book on from 11:30 to 1:00 and you just go out and walk. Just go out and walk in the middle of the day, take it off your calendar. You’re busy, you’re working 9, 10 hours a day but find time for you. I think we’re just making sure we’re very much with not only ourselves and what we need but also in touch with our teams. That also I think then encourages them to be in touch with their teams and so on and so forth because we truly are all in this together. I know it’s an overused phrase but we are.
Sarah Nicastro: Yes, I agree. Okay so technically we’re done in three minutes. That is clearly not happening. Hopefully you all can hang on with me for just a bit. I do want to try and work through the rest of our questions. We’ll do a little bit of rapid fire but I think that they’re all fantastic and I want to spend a little bit extra time with you all. Cindy, for you what do you think of first if I ask you what is your superpower?
Cindy Etherington: Yeah, it’s empowerment. I think that the most important thing that we do as leaders is empower others and help them get a seat at the table, help them have confidence, sharing their point of view and really helping them perform and contribute. Get much more from a whole bunch of people than I could ever get from myself of any one of us could ever get from ourselves as a leader. So empowerment.
Sarah Nicastro: I love that. That seems to be a recurring theme here as well. Sophia you spoke about maybe an early inclination before you mature and just learn to want to be the leader and you learn that actually hey, if we have a strong team we’re far stronger as a team than any one of us individually. I like that a lot. Marlene, can you share an example with us of when you feel that you showed some strong courage in your career?
Marlene Kolodziej: Yeah, that’s an interesting question and I think that it’s sort of along the theme of empowerment where the strong courage would be around helping or trusting other individuals to do what they need to do in terms of putting them in new positions. Hiring them without maybe them having all the experience that they need. Really putting your faith in some of the… Especially the women that you might bring on to help groom them and grow them and help them just be successful in their careers knowing that they don’t have everything that you need but you have enough faith to trust that you’re going to put your reputation and you’re going to invest in those individuals to ensure that they’re successful not knowing if they really will be.
Marlene Kolodziej: I think it’s a little bit of a leap of faith, it’s a little bit of empowerment, it’s a little bit of a challenge to really put yourself out there to help other people be successful especially when you don’t know how it’s going to work out and I think that’s… I’m sure many of us have done that over and over and don’t realize maybe how much we do it and how much faith it sometimes takes even when you cross all your T’s and dot your I’s to make sure that you’re helping people be successful and to move forward in their own careers and to attain the levels that they want to attain in their work world to help build successful people.
Sarah Nicastro: I like that. I was thinking as you were answering Marlene, the question was phrased in a way of what was a big moment of courage? I would assume we’ve all experienced moments where we really took a leap. We really put ourselves out there or we really had to be brave to do X but I think it’s also important to think about courage doesn’t always have to be big. Courage is also the daily, right? I spoke earlier about there were a lot of times very early in my career where it took a lot of courage just for me to speak up in the next meeting after someone was dismissive of me. Instead of shrinking away it took real courage to keep standing up or Linda you spoke about your show of vulnerability and your openness. That is courage. I think it’s also just important to reflect on it. It doesn’t have to be this big event. It’s choices every day to be vulnerable, to continue to learn and all of that stuff.
Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you for that Sarah and I think just to close that conversation a little bit, we all have stories about like you just said where we had this big event but I think we find courage every single day in everything that we do. I don’t want to miss that message. I just gave one example and especially when you think about the pandemic just how much we have to find in ourselves every day to be courageous and to be strong and to do the right thing over and over and over again. That to me was about people development but it’s the same for any other story that I’m sure all of us can talk about. The courage that it takes every day to just keep doing the right thing.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, for sure. Linda, can you share with us a book or a person or a resource that has had a significant impact on you and your journey?
Linda Tucci: There’s two people that I’d like to touch upon that have definitely left their mark on my career and my life I would say. Early in my career as I was starting out I was a medical technologist in a hospital lab in New York City and the head of the department there, an esteemed clinical microbiologist, one day sat me down in her office. She pointed her finger at me and she said, “I am going to mentor you.” I didn’t even know what that meant nor did I know the impact that that moment would have on my career moving. She I would say opened the door to potential which led to my master’s degree and opportunities in my career and such a gift so early on in my career to have someone proactively grab me and mentor me and that’s made me see both the value and the importance of mentorship.
Linda Tucci: Then later in my career as I become a director I had the good fortune of working with an executive coach that provides coaching, organizational design and development and for me that work was transformational. Really reached and deep and introspective and helping me see the… Or understand systems thinking and how the organization is interconnected and the value of constructive dialogue and conversation at work. Phyllis opened the door to help me see and believe in my potential while my work with Maria was more of polishing me off into the leader that I would become or hoped to be experienced as and I would say also for me made me want to mentor others and pass that on and I’ve tried to do that throughout my career. My experiences with them and with others really left an imprint that was really a gift in my life.
Sarah Nicastro: That’s amazing and I love that she took that initiative with you. It wasn’t something you asked for. Sonya can you share with us what do you do to take time for yourself? To balance, to reenergize so that you can give yourself to your team?
Sonya Lacore: So much of it really does come back to what Linda was talking about. I find great satisfaction in helping others realize the value of who they are and what they bring and I grew up with very low self esteem for a variety of reasons and it took me years to overcome that but one of the things that I have come to know is that I am worthy and if there’s a message that I want others to hear is you are worthy and when you give yourself back to helping others whether it’s mentoring or just helping people see the good in themselves when they can’t even see it themselves then that will fill me up and re-center me and rebalance me and I just… That’s how I re-center is giving back. You always feel better when you’re not focusing on yourself, right? There’s a message I want all the women to hear today. It is you are worthy to do whatever it is that you set out to do. Believe it and you do you.
Sarah Nicastro: I love it. I love that. All right ladies. I know we are already over on time so as much as I would like to keep talking with you all I don’t want to go too crazy here but thank you so, so much to each of you for joining in today. I really really appreciate it.