Go For It: Women Leaders Encouraged to Be Bold, Demand More and Make Strategic Career Moves

10 Top Do’s and Don’ts from Women Presidents and CEOS

On February 6, 2020, the second Women Leaders LA panel of women presidents and CEOs convened in El Segundo, CA.  Approximately sixty women attended to learn and be inspired. Women Leaders LA’s purpose is to encourage more women to go for top organizational positions, since only 10-15% of CEO positions are currently held by women.

Moderator Kimberly Freeman, Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer for the USC Dana and David Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences guided the discussion. The leadership panel included:

  • June Pai, General Manager, Asia Pacific of Manduka
  • Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D., Superintendent and President of Santa Monica College
  • Jessica Kirchner Flores, CEO, Impact Sciences and President, National Association of Women Business Owners
  • Jenny Darroch, Dean of Claremont Graduate University and Chair, Women’s Administrators Management Education
  • Judy Hackett, Founding Partner of Bryant Stibel  

These dynamic leaders shared valuable experiences they’ve gained during their trek to the top.

Three main themes emerged  from the Women Leaders LA panel discussion with presidents and CEOs. These leaders encouraged emphasizing the following in their early careers:

  1. Be bold
  2. Ask for more
  3. Say “no” more (If you agree to do too many everyday duties, you won’t have time to take on stretch assignments)
Go For It: Women Leaders Encouraged to Be Bold, Demand More and Make Strategic Career Moves

The 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Earn a Spot at the Top

Women need to break out of the pattern of getting pigeonholed in one leadership role and missing the chance to lead entire companies and organizations. Women presidents and CEO’s say aspiring women leaders should follow some “Do’s and Don’ts.”

Do:

  1. See more in yourself than others do
  2. Ask for more responsibility, more prestige
  3. Ask for a better job title
  4. Apply for the funding
  5. Accept new opportunities, even if they are outside what you had planned for your life
  6. Be strategic about your career moves
  7. Keep learning
  8. Find what makes you uniquely valuable and irreplaceable
  9. Support other women in advancing their careers
  10. Cultivate relationships with leaders you want to be like

Don’t:

  1. Overthink your next move
  2. Be afraid of possible failure
  3. Stay in one job too long
  4. Limit yourself to one field or department
  5. Work quietly, in hopes your success will speak for itself
  6. Stop practicing
  7. Stop learning
  8. Take on additional work without a promotion
  9. Be afraid to leave
  10. Let others get in your way

The relevance of this advice was seen in the Wall Street Journal article, “Where Are All the Women CEOs?” It was noted that less than 6% of the country’s top 3,000 companies are led by women CEOs. Although there are more women in leadership positions than before, women are consistently absent from the specific C-suite positions that are on the path to top leadership. Specifically, general management and P&L experience is often missing.

“A Wall Street Journal study of executives at the top companies, the biggest publicly traded firms by market value, shows that men on the way up overwhelmingly get the management jobs in which a company’s profits and losses hang in the balance. So-called line roles with profit-and-loss, or P&L, responsibilities, such as heading a division, unit or brand, are what set executives on the CEO track. Women promoted into the C-suites…often fill roles such as head of human resources, administration or legal.”

On behalf of Women Leaders LA, I want to once again thank the leaders who donated their time to the panel conversation. I also want to express gratitude to the CEO and leader volunteers who captained the career networking tables, including Judy Harrison of Way Point Partners, Denise Winner of AdvisoryCloud and Winner Squared, Karen Henry of Orange Coast Human Resources, Alissa Finerman  of Finerman Living and Carrie Lauby of BOOST Performance/Sandler Training. The PCT Towers of El Segundo graciously hosted the event, and Tom Lane provided top-notch audio support. We look forward to future events in Los Angeles, and a potential expansion to New York City.