Sep 27 2011
In honor of the official American Business Women's Day on September 22nd, and the invaluable contributions female executives have made to global business, BlueSteps have launched an 'Executive Women in Business' Initiative for the month of September. We will be featuring content focused on the personal experiences of top female executives and the lessons learned along the way.
Take a look below at the last article submission by a BlueSteps member who won a competition to submit their stories of progression as women in business:
One of the Lucky Ones
By Barbara Chambers
Today, I am 54 years old.
I remember growing up in a household, as the oldest child, with a father who insisted I go to college. This was from the time I was old enough to read.
My college of choice was Simmons College - an institution focused on the advancement of women.
I graduated in 1979 and landed my first job, in retail, as the financial assistant to the Vice President of Profit Planning, a man in his 60's.
I remember sitting in my office - after graduating from a women's college - and hearing the man I reported to yell at me from his office, "Hey girl - come here."
I remember the day I gave my notice - he told me not to be so worried about my career, that, "I was married and when my husband graduated from medical school, I would be able to stop working and focus on a family." It seemed that he was an insurmountable obstacle, and I decided it was best to no longer waste my time in that environment.
I joined a company that soon went into the throws of bankruptcy. During that time - in 1981 - I sat in a boardroom, on a daily basis, surrounded by men who were struggling to "right the ship." My job was to smash the numbers...and I was fortunate to work with people - men - who valued great work and were willing to give me additional responsibilities as I moved up the ladder. So, while the company was in turmoil, I had an opportunity to witness and experience business circumstances from inside a boardroom that only a few women my age were able to see. I was 24.
In those early years, and for many years afterwards, I had to be smarter. Work harder. And, do my very best to minimize my natural instincts to be overly emotional. But, it was so worth it - every moment. I enjoyed a transition from finance to marketing, and flourished as I used my creative talents to build brands.
During my years in marketing, I traveled. I was a CMO level executive reporting to CEO's. I spoke to audiences of 3000 people at a time, many times a year. And, I worked with great teams who gave me the ability to show great work.
In November of 2008, I lost my job as a senior marketing executive in a thriving division of a much larger company in gigantic turmoil. I was 51. I did not anticipate what would happen next, as I attempted to find a new position. Very quickly, I discovered that my age was a deterrent. This is not an excuse - it is a reality. And a new form of obstacle. To give up working is, for me, not an option. I thrive at work. I am now fortunate to have a position with a company working in marketing. I have become more humble, as it is a position at a much, much lower level...for the first time in my career, I am in a cubicle. :)
In life we make choices. We have obstacles. And, for some of us, we have influencers in our lives who give us a chance to show our capabilities. I am one of the lucky ones.
Barbara is a creative senior marketing executive experienced at delivering comprehensive strategies and innovative solutions that build brands. She has strong leadership skills with an approach to team building, resulting in high productivity, low turnover, and increased company morale. Barbara is passionate about delivering exceptional work that produces results.
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