Crawford® Highlights Female Leaders, Day Two
Editor’s Note: Yesterday, International Women’s Day, Claims World kicked off a four-day series featuring seven of its female leaders. Today, some of the women share their thoughts about a variety of work-related topics relevant to success in today’s business world. Click here to read Tuesday’s blog.
What, if any, are the unique characteristics that women should develop in order to succeed in business?
Erica Fichter, senior vice president, Medical Management, Broadspire®: “Don’t be shy—take a risk. Speak up to ensure others know what you want to do. Be a seeker, and if opportunities do not present themselves, go look for one. Never trying is a big pitfall.”
Beverly Trice, vice president, Catastrophe (CAT) Operations, Crawford: “Women tend to be emotional and think with their heart instead of their heads in a lot of cases. It’s a tough transition for some of us to leave the personal emotions out of the business decisions.”
Heather Matthews, senior vice president, National Claims Management Center, Crawford: “Characteristics women need are:
- Good written and verbal communication skills. Use strong words, don’t waiver, learn how to speak publicly and use proper grammar.
- Be competitive. Girls historically were raised to play house, play with dolls and have this desire to make everyone feel good and that they belong. While growing up, girls need to be placed in competitive environments such as sports so that they develop that desire to win.
- Learn to like yourself. Use positive affirmations, read self-help articles and books, have a network of positive influential women to spend time with, and drop the guilt.”
How important is networking with other professionals, both women and men, in helping you advance your career?
Angela Ferrante, senior vice president, Operations, Garden City Group℠, (GCG®) LLC: “Networking is critically important. A person is the product of his or her experiences, and the more one is exposed to other people, the more one grows. As a woman, business generation is very important to me as I never want to feel like I was handed something. One never knows where the next business lead will come from, and networking can come in many forms. Networking can happen at a PTA meeting, the gym locker room or on the board of a not-for-profit. The more exposure one has, the more opportunities will be presented.”
Maggie Cowing, UK technical director of Major & Complex Loss, Crawford Global Technical Services®: “With hindsight, this is an area I could have placed more emphasis on. If I had my time again, I would spend more time establishing and maintaining networks with both men and women.”
Erica: “You must work at networking. Many industries are very relationship-focused. Contacts are not only critical for future career opportunities, but a conduit for sharing ideas and experiences. Your network should consist of people who inspire you—both inside and outside your organization.”
Has being a woman influenced your career?
Beverly: “Definitely. I grew up in a family as one of three daughters, and my father even joked about having female dogs. Both of my parents always instilled in us we could grow and be anything we wanted. When I entered the work force, I never believed or thought being a woman would be an obstacle. I think this philosophy has served me well over the years.”
Angela: “Being a woman has influenced my career immensely. Women think differently than men (remember Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus?), and can often approach problems and life choices differently. My strong inclination toward making a process work mechanically not just theoretically influenced my decision to leave the practice of law and apply my legal background to the mechanics behind making a legal process come to life.”
Rianne Baumann, vice president, Global Markets, and director liability & CAR, Crawford: “I hope it hasn’t been too important. Crawford has offered me an excellent career path, and I would like to think I’ve been afforded these opportunities because I was the right person for the job.”
Maggie: “There are positive sides to being female in a male-dominated profession. Being in a minority can help your profile because people tend to remember you more. Also, it is sometimes the case that people can underestimate you and when your performance exceeds their expectations, this can work to your advantage. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword—people will also remember any mistakes you make too!”
Who has been influential in your career?
Erica: “My parents laid the foundation at an early age to go after what I want. They supported my independence and gave me the tools to gain experience. They promoted taking ownership, which aided me knowing it was OK to put yourself out there even if it meant making some mistakes.”
Rianne: “My parents. They taught me that being different is not a crime and that I did not have to fit in. Every time in my career I face a challenge, I tell myself that being who I am brought me to where I am today; and they gave me a lot of self-confidence. Without this, I probably would have given up so many times. And now I am very happy with my career and really love my job.”
Heather: “My mother. Ironically, she did not enter the paid workforce until my father retired at 60 and she was 57. She was a stay-at-home mom but worked beside my father on the family farm and the tax business he developed; ran the household like a well-run business; and dealt with all of the financials. When I was 13 she said to me, ‘Never rely on anyone for money but yourself.’ I have never forgotten that and have imparted that lesson to my daughter. She instilled in me independence, a fighting competitive spirit, the ability to speak out and be heard, tact and diplomacy, and that you don’t need a title to make a difference. My daughter summed it up recently when she said, “If Grandma had been born 30 years later, she would have been a powerful CEO.”
Check back tomorrow to read responses to questions that include: Is there enough support for mothers returning to the workforce? How have you overcome any workplace gender obstacles? Feedback on this series is welcome, so let other readers know what you think.