Q&A with influential women business leaders
The most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses report found that women-owned businesses have grown nationally by nearly 75 percent since 1997. However in spite of this growth, women still remain underrepresented in leadership positions at large companies and face a unique set of challenges in the business world.
We recently asked some influential women business leaders in our area their thoughts on leadership, what motivates and inspires them, their proudest accomplishments and rising above the barriers that women face in business.
What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
My longevity with Korman Communities—23 years as of July 7th. I had various part-time jobs since I was 14, but Korman was my first full-time job out of college. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m able to learn, grow and evolve as the business changes and as our company grows.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
My motivation comes from a desire to do my best and to win, and that was instilled in me by my father growing up. He taught me to always put forth my best effort and do a good job. It helps that I work out six days a week — that keeps me going.
- Lea Anne Welsh, COO, Korman Communities; President, AVE
What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?
I think the best decision I have ever made was to expand my product line from stationery/schools supplies to party, stationery and holiday & celebration business. For American markets, party, celebration and holidays are part of the lifestyle, so I decided to expand the product line to meet the market need.
What is the most important new business for you in the past year?
The most important business for me in the past year was the business from Latin American countries and from different industries. We want to expand our business globally, especially Latin American countries—and then eventually Eastern Europe and African countries.
- Wendy Shen, President & CEO at Nygala Corp./FLOMO
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Walking away from the table too soon whether it’s during negotiations for a promotion, banking terms or selling a business.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Demand will continue to grow for those in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and women need to be sure that they have the necessary skills, and mindset, to excel.
What woman inspires you and why?
People inspire me every day. This past Tuesday I had to opportunity to spend time with Margo Georgiadis, Google’s President of Americas. Hearing the passion in her voice as she spoke about re-imagining everything was inspiring and reminded me that re-imagining is an innate skill that we, as women, excel in.
- Andrea Schrager, President & CEO at Meadowlands/New York Consumer Centers
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Compassion for those that they lead—an understanding of what you are expecting out of them and ensuring their ability and tools are at hand to be successful.
What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past year?
Just because you give someone the opportunity doesn’t mean they will succeed.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Leadership is the ability to have each individual working at their own maximum capacity. And, everyone’s capacity is not the same.
- Linda McFadden, President & CEO at XCEL Federal Credit Union