Women in industry network, interact at WithIt conference
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, August 26, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - More than 150 women involved with the home furnishings
The keynote presentation was by Mary Lou Quinlan, author of "The God Box: Sharing My Mother's Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go."
Caroline Hipple moderated a panel discussion titled "View from the C-Suite," a question-and-answer session with Jennifer Appleby, president of Wray Ward; Kim Knopf, CEO of Innovative Mattress Solutions; and Tammy Nagem, chief operating officer of the High Point Market Authority. Each panel member provided insight on their journey up the corporate ladder.
"Sometimes, I jokingly say that it is easier to start a company than to interview and get a job," Knopf said. "And I have found that you can only get better if you truly know what your weaknesses are, so I tell people to be curious, not defensive."
"You have to be willing to take a healthy amount of risk," Appleby added. "I wanted to own my own company, and I got a loan and put everything on the line. You have to work hard, prove yourself and be fearless."
Knopf agreed, adding, "And never take no for an answer. Figure out how to make someone with a flat-out no switch to some sort of yes."
Nagem stressed the importance of self confidence.
"Trust yourself," she said. "I remember thinking, ‘These folks have put a lot of trust in me; do I know what I'm doing?' But don't second-guess yourself. You're in the position because someone saw that you could do the job."
Flexsteel Inds. President Karel Czanderna spoke about maximizing leadership potential. Czanderna, formerly president of the $3.3 million building materials group at Owens Corning, has a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University and attended the program for management development at Harvard Business School.
"Networking is an important business tool, as are mentors" Czanderna told the WithIt audience. "And lifelong learning opens doors forever....
"Define what you need from your mentors," she advised. "Then, just extend an invitation for breakfast. Find time to get to know each other and find someone you connect with. I wouldn't be here today without the support from a number of mentors."
Another keynote speaker was Arlene Blum, a bio physical chemist, mountaineer and the author of "Annapurna: A Woman's Place," a book that Fortune magazine selected as one of the "75 books that teach you everything you really need to know about business." Blum was the first American woman to attempt Mount Everest and hiked the European Alps with her infant daughter on her back.
Sara Lyke, executive director of WithIt, said Blum founded The Green Science Policy Institute and her research has helped remove toxins from children's clothing and furniture."
Betty Lyn Walters-Eller, 2013 president of WithIt, added that Emily Bennington's presentation was also impactful. Bennington is the author of "Who Says It's a Man's World: Girls' Guide to Corporate Domination."
"Her work and insights around ‘the space' between stimulus and response - where she challenges professionals to choose intentional, values-centered action, to practice owning our moment-to-moment experiences and focusing on the things we can control versus what we can't - were a great wakeup call reminder to our members, the students attending who are just starting to define their career choices and to those of us in the field who need to clear the clutter of past experiences and technology to truly figure out how to lead ourselves first," Walters-Eller said.
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