VP, Customer Service Operations, DTE Energy
It’s so important for our society to create opportunities for women to receive education and training, and building networks to support them throughout the process. Education opens doors to women that may otherwise be closed. It’s also crucial for financial resources to be facilitated in order to offset the challenges that women experience when pursuing an education.
In your opinion, what qualities make a power woman?
I think the most salient qualities of a power woman are integrity, courage, self-confidence and empathy.
What benefits and advantages does a company with positive gender equality have over a male dominated workplace?
When a workplace embraces gender equality, it benefits from increased innovation through an environment that encourages diversity of thought and guards against “group think”. This can directly impact a company’s success by identifying and delivering products and services to their diverse customer base, as well as mitigating the risk of “blinders” that prohibit the company from seeing traps or pitfalls that can have a negative impact. The different leadership styles of women can be a huge benefit to the mentorship and development of other more junior women in an organization.
Is there one particular issue in your life you are passionate about? Something that overrides all of your objectivity?
Being a mother. Parenting is the most emotional thing I have ever done. Exhilaration, joy, despair, worry -sometimes all in the same day, or even in the same hour. The highs and lows are so intense. In my work life, I approach problems objectively, analytically and strategically. The emotions that come with parenting can sometimes make it difficult to be objective or analytical, given my heart can override my brain when it comes to my children.
What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take empowering women and gender equality?
It’s so important for our society to create opportunities for women to receive education and training, and building networks to support them throughout the process. Education opens doors to women that may otherwise be closed. It’s also crucial for financial resources to be facilitated through networks and programming in order to offset the challenges that women experience when pursuing an education, such as finding childcare.
Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?
I experienced my first struggles with the gender gap at my first job out of university in a “new grad program” at a large company. A number of graduates were hired into the program to do several rotations within different groups. At the end of the rotations, offers were extended from various home organizations within the company. Several of my peers that were male were placed into departments where they had networked with male supervisors and managers through extracurricular sports leagues. These leagues were male dominated. I felt I didn’t have the same opportunity to build the same depth of personal relationships that my male colleagues had. While I did get a great position at the completion of the program, I felt I had to work much harder for it.
Do you think asking for previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between men and women? Should we push for a nationwide ban?
I do. We should focus on salaries based on job specifications and qualifications. Previous salary disclosures only perpetuate the pay gaps that exist. In some cases, even today unfortunately, there is a belief that women should be grateful to have a seat at the table regardless of pay equity.
Should the USA reduce its role on the world stage?
This is a complex and polarizing question. In general, I believe that the US plays a critical role in the world through alliances, collaboration and diplomacy in tackling global challenges and human rights issues.
Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?
I don’t have a single defining moment but rather many moments that helped support and shape who I have become. From an early age, I watched my immigrant, non-English-speaking parents approach life and hardship with unparalleled tenacity. And in the early stages of my career, a few key women held their hand out and helped me up through their sponsorship and mentoring. I have tried to take away as many lessons as I could along the way. I believe it is an obligation of all women of influence to create those same opportunities for young women today through sponsorship, advocacy and mentorship.
Have you seen changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?
I do believe women have made progress on this front. More women have become visible and have been successful in the political arena albeit still underrepresented.
Is “education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If not, why not?
Yes, I believe it is. Education fosters independence, creates a strong mind and helps shape the character of individuals and society. And as I mentioned before, education is especially important for women in a society.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?
I could answer this question several different ways. Today is a beautiful sunny day and the weather is perfect. So today, my answer would be a boat skipper – so I could be outside and enjoy the beautiful sun and water.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always be authentic. I have found in my career and personal life that when I have strayed from that to please someone or “fit in”, the results have been disappointing and not personally satisfying.
What is your favorite book?
I typically read fiction. I’m a big fan of several authors, including Jodi Picoult, Gillian Flynn and Lisa Scottoline.
What do you most value in your friends?
Authenticity and loyalty.
What trait do you find most uncomfortable in yourself? In others?
I, like many other women, find it unnatural to advocate for myself. When I do, sometimes I feel like I’m “bragging” or being too self-serving. I think as women we need to be much more deliberate about self advocacy and promoting our brand.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I can’t say I feel any virtue is “overrated”; however, I do believe some virtues in excess can do more damage than others in a person’s ethos. For example, ambition is an important virtue but in excess can lead to greed and sometimes unethical behavior. Balance and being mindful of not over-toggling can ensure we bring the best out of a virtue.