Power, Credibility and the Path to the C-Suite – Advancing Women to the Next Level

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By Julie DeLuca, Delaware Trust

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Power, Credibility and the Path to the C-Suite

Never Stop Learning.  Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.  And Find the Right Place.

Highly accomplished women tell us how they advanced to where they are today and the important, heartfelt lessons learned along the way. 

Meet the experts

  • Shelley Boyce, Executive Chairman and Founder, MedRisk
  • Patricia Evans Schulze, Managing Director, Global Capital Markets, Wilmington Trust
  • Anne Vazquez, Partner, NewSpring Capital
  • Barbara Shander, Partner, Morgan Lewis (Moderator)

Each started along one path, but morphed into new, more promising opportunities.  By paying close attention to what was right for them and where they wanted to be, was the foundation to landing in the right place. 

Tip: Advocate for yourself. 

  • When you’re doing well, let it be known.  This isn’t bragging when you’re surrounded by the right people.
  • Don’t assume people know what you want, talk about it.

Pat Evans Schulze joined Wilmington Trust 38 years ago, right out of high school, and she was determined to set herself up for success.  With the Bank’s support, Evans Schultz made the decision to slow her career down during her children’s young ages and to return to school while working full time Evans Schultz made extensive connections in the industry by volunteering, networking, joining committees and surrounding herself with the right people – advocates and sponsors both within her firm and outside.  Pat passionately recalls “even if you don’t feel confident, keep persevering and never stop learning”. 

Tip: Embrace challenges.

  • It’s ok to be emotional.  Just make sure your emotions are being received accurately.  Remember be mad when you’re mad and don’t let those tears creep in sending the wrong message. If the tears make it to the surface, explain that it is a measure of extreme frustration (or anger) so as not to mislead your audience to believe your ‘feelings were hurt’.
  • Mistakes happen – everyday.
  • Be confident enough to learn what you don’t know.
  • Always be prepared.
  • Face fears head on.   
  • Never stop learning. 

Anne Vazquez, a Partner with NewSpring Capital, received excellent advice early on and studied accounting in school, believing it would guarantee a broad range of possibilities and it has done just that.  Vazquez launched in to her industry, joining KPMG, exposed to exactly what she may have expected.  She left the firm to join another, but when that Philadelphia office unexpectedly closed, Anne made “a bold move to leverage her skills in new ways” and joined NewSpring Capital where she quickly knew Private Equity offered, in her opinion, the most interesting accounting opportunity.  Vazquez found herself in somewhat of a “boys club” but also recognized that she was “ok with being a girl in a boys’ business”.  With time and experience realized “I don’t need to be one of the guys” and 12 years later is highly regarded.

Tip: Be Confident.

  • Have confidence in yourself.
  • Be open to constructive criticism.
  • When you want something, go get it.
  • Be 100% present wherever you are.
  • Find your balance.  At work and at home but also with your mind, body and spirit. 
  • Find valuable life hacks.
  • And Remember as you are trying to balance everything, if don’t like how your husband folds the laundry, get over it, he’s folding it. 

Shelley Boyce, Executive Chairman of MedRisk, started her career as a nurse, but within her first year recognized “she wasn’t a very good nurse” and decided to leverage her experience and knowledge toward medical device sales only to learn that wasn’t the right direction either.  Boyce decided to pursue an MBA and during her studies submitted what she thought to be an excellent business plan to her professors.  Feeling terribly rejected and discouraged after receiving a P (for Passing)- only so she didn’t have to take the class again, Boyce decided to start her own company.  And 25 years later, she understands the risks and rewards of being her own boss. MedRisk has $500M in revenue and the reputable Carlyle Group is a majority owner. Boyce was not afraid make changes when she wasn’t satisfied; she welcomed the challenges until she reached her goal. 

Through fear, lack of confidence and knowledge at times, rejection, loneliness, uncertainty and change, each one of these women persevered. Do not hesitate to change direction, but have a plan of action. Keep these nuggets of wisdom close by as you continue on your own path.

Tip: Set expectations and expect change.

  • Perfection is overrated and often unachievable.  Be a work in progress.
  • Find a balance and support - both in the work place and outside so you can give 100%. 
  • Be ok with change especially change within yourself.  Sometimes tomorrow is more important than the next 20 years or even next week.  Keep moving to next level of you.