Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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26 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S p r i n g 2 0 1 8 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m In 2007, her skill and managerial com- petence led to her appointment as chief financial officer of Obama for America during President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Still, Markowitz kept innovating her- self. During the campaign, she took steps to hone a skill she felt she long lacked: public speaking. She feared it so much that she had navigated career responsi- bilities to avoid it. "I did all this work, and I wasn't the one who presented it," she says. So she took Toastmasters International classes with a group from the campaign. She hired a speaking coach to get her comfortable in front of crowds and podi- ums. She asked a voice coach to help her with her volume. Ultimately, Markowitz's position as a regional administrator for the Small Business Administration during Obama's presidency required her to travel across the Midwest and speak to numerous groups and conferences. Looking back at her trajectory, Mar- kowitz says it all began with self-exami- nation. "You need to make sure you are being very introspective about your skill set: What are you doing well? Keep doing it well, and developing it, but where are your holes?" says Markowitz, who's now a bank executive and is still making speeches. "Do you need additional education or certifica- tion? Address those things you think are holding you back." Addressing those weaknesses, says Sheila O'Grady, a consultant at Spencer Stuart, an executive search and leader- ship development firm, is critical—and not easy. Be open to hearing the hard stuff," O'Grady says, "because I think if you can hear it, take in information that maybe you don't love, but be objective about it, and then act on the insight out of that and the development that you may need, you will grow and flourish. You have to be able to hear it, digest it, and act on it, and that's very hard." Start with you Even before figuring out what you want to do, where you want to go, or how far you want to rise, you have to figure out what matters to you. at will guide oth- er decisions. Allyson Laackman had spent the first decades of her career working in account- ing and finance before taking seven years off to be with her kids. When she was ready to transition back into the workforce, her husband, Don, suggested she work with a life coach to gain clarity and perspective. "It was pretty amazing," says Laackman. "You tend to spend the first session really focusing on identifying your core values, and I think that alone was the impetus for pretty much everything that's happened since." Laackman's life coach, Kathleen Aharo- ni, started with a two-hour, foundational session that solidified Laackman's central values of fairness, justice, unconditional support, and mentoring. Aharoni says she works "to bring a per- son into oneness with herself, so she's not one person at work, one person with her girlfriends, one person with her signifi- cant other, so that she's not fragmented." One thing Aharoni advises is to avoid focusing on specific details of a work po- sition. Instead, connect with the qualities you want in a job. She says it may mean saying, "I want greater collaborative opportunities. I want to have more profit share. I choose to be directing a group of people who are ambitious, creative self-starters." For Laackman, aligning her values with her work meant openness in her career We Mean Business >

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