From leadership and growth to inspiration and parenthood, women leaders from around the globe share their stories. And International Women’s Day is the perfect time for Two Rivers Marketing to join in the conversation. So, the Undercurrent team asked some of our own female leaders about their inspirations and achievements.
Q: What do you actively do to inspire the next generation of female leaders?
A: Rachel Adams — Executive Director
My advice to younger women working in any industry — but especially in industries traditionally dominated by men, like construction, manufacturing, and agriculture — is to earn your seat at the table by being smart and working hard. Over my career, I have seen younger women who are reluctant to speak up or ask questions, and they end up not having an equal voice in the conversation. Sometimes they feel like they don’t know enough about technical subjects to participate in a Q&A opportunity or speak up.
When I started working in marketing for these industries, I took advantage of every opportunity for training, job shadows, riding along with salespeople, and extra projects so I could gain the knowledge I needed to be seen as a peer. Many industry experts shared their knowledge and helped me learn. I would encourage other women to seek out these same kinds of opportunities and not be shy about learning and asking questions.
Q: What achievement are you most proud of and why?
A: Jill VanDerPol — Director, Agency and Community Activities
I take pride in my growth and hope it inspires others to find their path to success. I went from a designer to an account team member to having my own client accounts to being on the agency leadership team. My growth is a testament to the fact that if you have a good leader, say yes to opportunities, push yourself outside your comfort zone, constantly seek to learn something new, take responsibility for your dreams, and are driven to do the best you can, you can become whatever you aspire to.
A: Julie Heuton — Human Resource Manager
I have the privilege of being a working Mom. I love my boys, and I love my job. I feel blessed to do both. It takes some balancing at times, but to me, it is the best of both worlds. It is imperative to me that my children know anything is possible with hard work. It is also essential for me to show other young females that you really can have the best of both worlds.
Q: What do you think makes a strong leader?
A: Marianne Coppock — Managing Director, Client Services
In my experience, the most important trait of a strong leader is authenticity. It sounds simple, but it’s hard to do. Authenticity requires self-awareness. You have to be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses and not be afraid to speak about both with your team. Authentic leaders show their real selves to their followers and don’t act like one person at work and a different person at home. They don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. Authentic leaders put the mission of the company ahead of their own. Most importantly, authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show their emotions and be vulnerable to connect with their associates.
Q: How do you work to empower your team?
A: Kristi Sauer — Managing Director, Client Services
I empower my team by stepping back and giving them opportunities — opportunities to stretch their skills, their experience, opportunities to succeed and fail, all to help them grow and develop. I will be the first one to recognize their achievements and ensure they get the credit for the wins and the first one to support and guide them when things don’t go as we planned. I empower my team by working as a team and always treating them with respect and providing encouragement along the way.
Q: Who inspired you to become a strong leader and why?
A: Leslie Maynes — Managing Director, Client Services
My mom inspired me to become a strong leader. In her career as a curriculum director and elementary principal, she led hundreds of teachers and thousands of students.
She taught me leadership is pursuit of knowledge: She earned her master’s degree in education when I was in elementary school and her doctorate while I was in high school.
She taught me leadership is mentorship: While retired, she is still observing aspiring teachers and helping them find placement leading our next generation.
She taught me leadership is caring: I woke up to the smell of cookies baking on her teachers’ birthdays and long conference days. More importantly, she helped many students in tough family situations get physically and emotionally prepared for their school days before the first bell rang.
A: Jennifer Ruggle — Managing Director, Digital Services
I was really inspired by one of my first bosses. He had high expectations for me, he never let me off the hook, and he was an amazing collaborator. He modeled the behaviors and approach he expected from his team, purposefully inviting me into problem-solving discussions and encouraging me to participate.
Today, I’m genuinely inspired by my team. They’re courageous and thoughtful, never backing away from a challenge. They share amazing ideas and show tremendous support for each other. They push me every day, and for this, I’m grateful.
How do you celebrate the women in your life and advocate for gender balance? Tell your International Women’s Day story by dropping a comment below or sharing with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.