women in business

Aquaria Harley, Director of Sales and Marketing, Starwood Hotel and Resorts

How did you end up choosing a career in the hospitality industry?

When I was growing up in Parsippany, New Jersey, we used to take family trips to various locations in the US. We would stay in hotels and I really enjoyed the ambience and friendly people. I soon realized that I could make this career work for me in various places.

What would surprise people most about your role?

People are surprised that I have various job responsibilities. As the Director of Sales & Marketing at a boutique hotel, I not only have the job of bringing groups to stay at my hotel, but I also support many other departments such as Accounting, Reservations, and Events. You must have great organizational skills and the ability to multi-task.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I enjoy meeting people from all over the world and making their experiences at my hotel memorable! There are many reasons why people choose to stay at hotels such as family reunions, weddings, corporate/social events, graduations, et cetera. I want to ensure that they have a great experience! Our guests will return back to our hotel if we provide excellent customer service and if we value their business. Guests have many choices for hotel accommodations since there is a greater supply of hotels than those in demand in New York.

How important is a good support system?

Very important! I am truly blessed to have family, friends, and mentors that support me and who want me to be successful in all that I do. I am also very focused and driven about my career goals.

What advice would you give women who are interested in a career in Hospitality Management?

You must enjoy working with people and have the ability to multi-task. The industry is moving toward more individual responsibility and fewer staff members. To gain as much hospitality experience as possible, you should be well-rounded. The more well-rounded you are, the more opportunities there are to advance.

You've been in this industry for some time now, what are some lessons learned?

You must have a strong backbone and know what you are worth; it is not easy moving up the corporate ladder because you might not have the support from your colleagues. They might not feel that you are ready to move forward. You are in charge of your own destiny! I have learned to take risks and be willing to relocate as well. I started as a Guest Services Operator and now I am the Director of Sales & Marketing. I have been the industry for over 15 years and I have worked in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Florida.

What are a few of your favorite must-haves?

Lipstick and business cards! You are always selling! ☺

Meet Cee Sando, Social Media Marketer, Fashion Stylist

Trust Your Gut

1) Do you remember the moment when you said, I have to pursue my dreams and do work that I am passionate about?

Absolutely! I was living in Toronto, at a job I could not stand and that I dreaded going to every day. I KNEW that it was absolutely NOT the life I was meant to be living. I vowed to do everything I could to drastically change my situation. First, I did the responsible thing and started saving every single penny – I downsized my home, liquidated most of my material items, and even sold my car to be able to have as much saved money as possible. Then I did the ultimate crazy thing and
moved thousands of miles away, to a city I had never lived in, and where I did not know a single person. Plus, I had no idea how I would support myself. My gut told me that I needed to be there at that time and I listened. Craziest and best decision I ever made!

2) What’s next for you in 2016?

This year has already been a huge one for me! I can honestly say that I have never been better or happier than right now! I have finally come to terms with being a typical Gemini in all things, including my career. For years, I battled between focusing on practical/ business/ left brain pursuits versus artistic/creative/right brain interests. I have now created a career that is the perfect marriage of the two! I know I am the only person able to do what I do exactly in the way I do it, and that is incredibly gratifying. I love being a wardrobe stylist, working on set and dressing my private clients just as much as I love putting together social media marketing campaigns for retail stores, training beauty corporations on how to make the best use of Snapchat, and posting on Instagram on behalf of a favorite fashion brand. Merging my love of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle with my obsession for social media in this way is what my education, training and experience has been leading me to. I have a number of fashion editorials coming out in print this season and I did costume design for my first film, which comes out this summer. I also have a limited list of incredible social media clients that I am super proud of!

3) Where does your inspiration come from?

Everywhere! From a cup of tea, the street style I see on daily walks through my Hollywood neighborhood, or the ideas I get during my yoga practice... all of my experiences inform my work.

4) How important is a good support system?

Having a good support system is huge! As an entrepreneur, I know having the right support can mean the difference between success and failure. No woman is an island and it is a waste of time and energy to think you need to do, be, or handle everything on your own. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I did not know a single person and it has taken me time to find the right group of positive, driven, energetic people to surround myself with. It has been 5 years and I am still working on it, but I am finally in a place where I feel brave and comfortable enough to turn to my system and ask for help when I need it.

5) What advice would you give women who want to start a business and/or pursue their dream?

The best advice I have ever received and the one thing I will say time and time again is TRUST YOUR GUT. You have all the answers to every possible question you can think of, because only you know what is best for you! Learn to listen to that inner voice that might be very quiet right now. Regardless of how weird, crazy, or counter intuitive the voice might seem, trust what you hear, and everything else will come naturally.

6) You’ve been in the entertainment/fashion industry for some time now, what are some lessons learned?

I'll double back to the previous answer here, because after making so many mistakes I realized that if I had been able to trust my gut a lot sooner, I could have saved myself a whole lot of money, time and disappointment. Besides this, the best lessons I have learned are:

  1. Stay true to yourself.

  2. Be 100% true to your word.

  3. Punctuality is a game changer.

  4. Impossibility is relative

  5. Jettison trends, wear what makes you feel like your best self.

  6. You only have 1 pair of feet so be good to them, even if that means wearing sneakers to work!

7) What are a few of your favorite must-haves?

 My phone (obviously)

 Lip Balm

 My rescue pit bull/ service animal, Stokely

 My styling kit (because I never know when I might receive a last-minute booking)

 Tea in a travel mug

 A killer pair of sunglasses (right now I am absolutely obsessed with a new local brand, Burkinabae)

To learn more about Cee Sando, and to see some of her great work, visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

As you can see, age is nothing but a number! In the words of Audre Lorde, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” 

Be The Captain of Your Career!

Be The Captain of Your Career!

You are a strong woman and made to be fearless.  Don’t let fear rob another day of your confidence and clarity! You can’t control everything that happens in your life, but you can take accountability for the plan you put in place for your success!

Don't Stop Believing!

Don't Stop Believing!

The band Journey made a song called, Don't Stop Believing. The chorus goes, "Don't stop believin', Hold on to that feelin', Streetlight people, Don't stop believin' Hold on." This song reminds me of when I was a young girl and would practice writing my signature on countless pieces of loose leaf paper.  Did you do that too? As kids we thought someone might want our autograph one day. As little girls we had no problem dreaming BIG! Anything we dreamed of--we pictured ourselves doing it.  You could be a teacher, a movie star, and a doctor all in the same day and no one could tell you differently.  When I was young, my cousin Frank and I used to ride our bicycles around town and pretend to be police officers.  We had badges and everything! My fantasy shift always ended early because I couldn’t stay outside as long as Frank.  Where am I going with all of this? Don’t stop believing in yourself!  Let’s get back to the days when we saw ourselves climbing the highest mountains and nothing could stand in our way.  If you want to go back to school; take the necessary steps.  If you want to travel more; start saving! If you are still waiting for love; don’t give up! Your dreams and goals are important and should be handled with care.  Find your Monday motivation and don’t stop believing!
Ps: My cousin Frank grew up and became an actor. He has starred in several television shows portraying law enforcement officers (smile). Dreams do come true!

 

Let's Get In Formation

Yesterday, like many others I watched the Super Bowl and over indulged in a lot of junk food. Some of us watched because our favorite team was playing, some watched because we wanted to be social, and others watched to see the Beyoncé concert. While watching the game, I thought a lot about team work!

Teams are better than a single player. Teams can be hard to beat, but individual players get hurt, get ejected out of the game, or just have an off night. I believe the most well rounded people build their teams down to each person. Most of us probably don’t know many of the player’s names outside of Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Having a good quarterback is extremely important, but the Broncos played and won as a team. When you’re part of a team, you want to put your teammates in a position to succeed and you never want to let them down.

Who is on your team? Some of your teammates might include: family members, a spouse or partner, children, colleagues, and friends. What if you started your day with the initial goal in mind—I want to enable each person on my team to succeed. How would that change the “plays” you make if that was your goal? How would that impact their role to enable your success? Can you point to the people on your team and say they are supported enough by you and the rest of the team to perform at their best?

This way of thinking can be applied in your home, in the office, and in your career development. I think team development can be easily overlooked! Let’s keep it real, no one is getting paid enough to get any less than that kind of support from you. Let’s do our best to build the best teams and be an award winning team member. If we play well together, we win together! Pass this memo along to one of your team members!

5 Steps for Effective Feedback

5 Steps for Effective Feedback

Use Phrases For Starters

  • Tell me how you would like to receive helpful and constructive feedback from me.
  •  Describe the best way that I can give you feedback as we move along this project, such as e-mail, phone, face-to-face time, or meetings.
  •  I can tell you are extremely busy.  How do you recommend I get feedback to you in a timely manner?

Chelsea Billingsley, Project Engineer, SEH

Chelsea Billingsley, Project Engineer, SEH

I never actually had a dream to become an engineer - I sort of fell in love with it after I started working. My internship at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment helped me understand how fulfilling of a career it could be. At 19 years old, I had no idea the breadth of what being an engineer could encompass, but I experienced the tangible ability to help people both improve their quality of life and natural surroundings through water and wastewater treatment working with the State Health Department.

The New Role Model

The New Role Model

 Let me tell you about some awesome women that are total bosses.  If you’re looking for a few good role models, start with Dina Habib Powell, Lydia Fenet, and Beverly Bond.  I am inspired by how they inspire women across the world.  They don’t tweet all day about being a boss.  Their values and the work they do for other women is the legacy I hope I can leave.  Dina Habib Powell serves as President of The Goldman Sachs Foundation, she also runs the 10,000 Women Initiative, which helps women entrepreneurs across the globe, and she is helping women chip away at the glass ceiling.  Lydia Fenet is the International Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s Auction House and not only is she a boss; she started as an intern in the Events department and never looked back.  And Beverly Bond, the founder of Black Girls Rock, is a well-respected DJ for A-list celebrities who decided to create a youth empowerment mentoring organization.  I hope we get back to the days where we celebrate outstanding women who are making a difference in the lives of other women.  I salute these women and others that hold the mantel of being a boss and a role model we can all be proud of.  I respect these women too much to boil them down to a “boss b*tch,” “boss chick,” or a “boss babe.” They are phenomenal women--that’s it! 

Networking like a Pro

Networking like a Pro

Having a career in the development industry for the last 10 years I‘ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new people.  Relationship building is what I get paid to do and of course raising millions of dollars.  Networking is one of those words that can bring a smile to one’s face or seem like a chore.  People tell me, “You are so good at networking and making new friends, how do you it?” Here are 3 sure fire tips to help you navigate your personal and professional network.

Managing Millennials

By: Ta'Nia Wright

Dear ‘millennials’ and those who manage you:

I know you get a hard time for being part of this young generation, “The Millennials.” I’ve personally had the, ahem, sometimes unfortunate pleasure of managing many of you over the last ten years. Instead of ranting about the problems and challenges I’ve experienced with millennial employees and the differences between managing you, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, I thought instead I would do something constructive and let you in on a few secrets that will help you gain more respect for both yourself and your generation. You get a bad rap for your supposedly poor work ethic and sense of entitlement, but perhaps you’re just misunderstood – I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. So, let’s begin:

My generation (Generation X) is undoubtedly different to yours. We come to work on time, we actually care about impressing our boss and most of all, we work hard to advance in the workplace.

How I wish I could say the same for you! I am afraid to say that some of you have a completely different work ethic. Some of you don’t work hard at all, and most don’t have a clear idea of what a strong work ethic actually involves. As far as advancing in the workplace goes, I get the strong impression that many of you believe it is something that should just be handed to you because you’ve held a certain position for a certain amount of time – not because you’ve actually earned it.

From my experience as a manager, I think there are two types of millennials:

1) The ones that work hard and give it their all (usually children of Generation Xers).

2) The ones that are lazy, have no motivation, no drive, no ambition, and believe their job is beneath them – really, they’re destined to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, if only someone would recognize their genius!

Wait, you’re probably saying. You said you were going to give us tips, not rant about us! So let’s get to the meaty part. I’ve found that to bring out the best in my millennial employees, there’s an effective system I can use that I call GROW. So what’s GROW?

G- Goal R- Reality O- Options W- Way Forward

Later on I plan to go more into more detail about GROW, but for now I'll give a small definition of what it is and what it kind of entails.

When you grow your employee you are either coaching them for breakthrough or coaching for engagement. Breakthrough means getting your employee to that next level of advancement - usually they are almost there, but we as managers can provide them with the missing tools they need to make the leap to a position of more responsibility.

Managers coach for engagement when their employee is lacking the basic skills to complete his or her task effectively. As a manager you need to try to engage them to become better at their job. When you coach for engagement, one of two things will happen: your employee will become engaged at work, learn the skills they’re lacking, and will perform better; or your employee will give up and leave his or her job (and probably make everyone else's life easier when they do.)

I have faith that you millennials will rise to the occasion, because you certainly possess some beautiful and creative minds; and for you managers, continue to use GROW and practice tons of patience, and hopefully you’ll soon see the payoff.

The Vicious Cycle of the Mommy Track

The following is an article from Teal In Motion, a lifestyle blog focused on personal style, parental musings and pop culture. Author Teal Conroy is a working mom-of-two who can't resist a good sale, an excuse to dance or a wrinkly bulldog face. You can follow her blog at www.tealinmotion.com

Lean in. Lean out. Lean on. Lean back. With so much directional leaning, I feel myself swaying out of control on my own axis. Working moms weeble and they wobble but they don't fall down.

Recently, I walked away from the opportunity to apply for a promotion. Never have I been one to pause at the middle of the ladder I am climbing. I pull my way enthusiastically up each rung. This time, this specific time in my life, things are different. I suddenly find myself on the dreaded Mommy Track and I'm not sure if I should blame society or blame myself.

If you aren't familiar with the term, "mommy track" was first coined back in 1989 by The New York Times following an article by Felice Schwartz in The Harvard Business Journal, discussing the phenomenon of women with families are being placed in lower paying jobs with little upward mobility. Fast-forward twenty-five years and the mommy track is very much still in full effect. Wage gaps are real; women make 77 cents to every dollar men earn. Corporate boards are comprised of only 17% women, where national statistics show that the tipping point for success is a board comprised of 33% women. While I know that preceding generations of women would champion their efforts as instrumental in how far we have come (as they should - just watch one episode of Mad Men to gawk at the marginalization of women in the workforce), we still have so far to go.

So here I am - a fourteen year career under my belt that I will happily brag has seen some illustrious growth. I'm extremely proud of my resume and my accomplishments and I'm confident in my abilities to rise and succeed in new challenges. Why am I holding back from taking another step forward?

I've got one big reason - time with my family. With each new tooth that pops in, with every new word that stutters forward from excited little mouths, and with each milestone that is passed earlier than I could ever expect, I find myself desperately trying to be a part of the action. To be present at every moment.

But, I can't. I have a commute that adds up to more hours than I see my kids each week. Events occur during the weeknights and weekends that leave me bitterly networking rather than reading bedtime stories. I'm glued to my iPhone, frantically checking emails well after working hours because the expectation to respond seems more pressing than the expectation to help my son finish his puzzle. The laundry, the dishes and the leaves in the backyard pile up and seem to mock me into cleaning them up when all I want to do is collapse after the kids go to sleep. Even with a terrific partner in my husband, who does more than his lion's share of work and chores, the checklist of what I need to do versus the checklist of what I would love to do seems staggeringly unbalanced.

Without the flexibility to work remotely or to change up my hours, something had to give. It was back on me to make a choice: do I lean in like everyone tells me to or do I lean back and put my career ambitions on pause?

If I lean in, then I may find myself crying in my car each morning when I leave the warm, open-mouth slobbery cheek kiss from my six-month old. I risk my health, which seems to suffer under moments of stress (hello, adult acne and chronic migraines. I never miss you.) I place myself in a role where the anxiety of missing the precious moments makes me angry at the work accomplishments that replace them. If I lean back, then I'm perceived as lazy and uncaring about my work and my career. I sacrifice opportunities for greater income for my family. I become enraged about a country that has forced me into this decision because corporate culture is not one that is supportive of work/life balance, both in our laws (ahem, paid maternity leave) and our empathy ("if you don't like it, then quit!").

Thus, I find myself vacillating on where to lean and instead, feel like falling down and collapsing under a big blanket with some ice cream, a full DVR and a pity party for one. Instead of doing that, I pick a track and I run forward with a full commitment to my decision.

I choose family every time, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily feel good about it. Do I blame myself for my choice or do I blame the societal factors that led me to the decision? Hard to say - I think the two are intertwined. The question keeps getting posed: Can women have it all? My answer is no, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't push for the ability to have laws and a society view that allow women to try to give it our best shot. Until then, I am going to do what is best for me, right now, in the moment, for my family. Nothing is more important than heading down the track towards what holds the most meaning, rewards and fulfillment for you.

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Sarah Burroughs, Founder, Anne B Designs

Sarah Burroughs, Founder, Anne B Designs

I was driving and listening to the local radio when they made an announcement for applications for the big summer craft market. I thought, "I need to do that. And I need to quit my job." I honestly started sobbing because I knew I needed to pursue my dream/business full-time. I was terrified of the next steps, excited for how much happier I would be, and anxious for the potential growth of my business.

Ann Wang and Jessica Willison, Co-founders, Enrou

Ann Wang and Jessica Willison, Co-founders, Enrou

Ann: Yes, I was driving home from a meeting and I called my dad. I had been really curious about what it would take to build Enrou and talking him through my thoughts brought me a lot of clarity. During that call, I realized that there was the need, this was the time, and that I was the right person. It was a really clear moment that there was nothing to lose and everything to gain. From that moment, I was all in.