I am very grateful to be a leader at TTEC and to be part of the Women in Leadership community. This amazing program genuinely and actively engages and empowers women with powerful information and opportunities. It is driven by the belief that women have a tremendous influence in business and in making TTEC the organization that is regularly recognized as a top female friendly employer.
As we recognize Women’s History Month in the United States, I acknowledge my journey to become a woman in leadership started at a time when I did not know what it meant to be a leader, let alone a woman in leadership. I did not know the struggles and successes I would have but, I am forever appreciative of the opportunities I had to learn and grow. And this month especially reminds me of the journey women leaders before me made in order for the women leaders of today to feel empowered.
There I sat, 24 years ago, not fully understanding that the decision I had made in accepting a role in a call center would set me on a path I never could have imagined.
I had taken a “break” once high school was done and worked in a family business for a while, trying to figure out what I wanted. I applied for and was selected to support employees with benefit and enrollments questions supporting them through life events. marriage, divorce, births, and deaths. This was when I first learned about emotional intelligence and professionalism. The ability to be aware of someone else’s emotions as well as my own and to be empathetic, and respectful of others needs and feelings.
I did not know it at the time but this was the start of my journey into the world of corporate life and specifically, Human Capital.
I was introduced to peers, supervisors, leadership, and eventually college professors that helped shape my career. Most importantly, women. Women who were like me, young and inexperienced. Women who were already on a path and had knowledge. The kind of knowledge that that is gained through experience. Women who were emerging leaders and role models of what I aspired to be. I watched and listened.
Here is what I learned and have carried forward throughout my career:
1. Communication – This goes hand in hand with emotional intelligence. Knowing your audience, knowing what makes others feel empowered and engaged and leveraging that into something great. It is the ultimate motivator when someone speaks to your soul. It is the foundation of any relationship and the women I observed did this with grace and influence without sounding condescending. People wanted to achieve goals with her.
2. Learn how to lose and rise again – Asserting yourself in any industry is tough. For women, it is even harder. As I rose in my career I experienced discrimination, bullying, and harassment. I was overlooked on promotional opportunities, pay raises, lateral opportunities, you name it. But, with every loss I asked “why?” Why not me and what do I have to do differently next time? I had to call out bias gracefully and factually. I had to not let a step back become a stand still. I surrounded myself with women who had taken those losses and made them victories.
3. Grit – I watched strong women stand up for their ideas and actions in a room full of people that challenged them. They knew they were standing up for something they believed in. They had courage and the confidence they could execute. Even when others implied with insistence that they could not.
Since embarking on my career, I have taken on roles that have broadened my experience within my industry and outside of it. Focused on the things I love about the roles I have been in and those I did not, I have built a network of people I respect including some I have had tough conversations with and experienced “healthy conflict”.
I value every part of my journey. Everything I learn continues to shape my path, personally and professionally. I have the wonderful opportunity to continue to be mentored by amazing women and I am grateful to say I am seen as a Woman in Leadership at TTEC. This month helps us to remember the women in history who have succeeded in becoming leaders. Think of your story, your journey to becoming a woman in history.