Lessons from the She-Suite

A full house at SOCO's Bull Street location!
A full house at SOCO’s Bull Street location!

What a fantastic program (and turnout!) for AMA Columbia’s first event of 2017! Moderated by Chakisse Newton of Cardinal Consulting, Conversations with the She Suite featured a stellar panel of female executives:

  • Kim Wellman, Vice President of Communications Strategies, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
  • Sharon Bryant, SC Regional Executive Vice President, First Citizens Bank
  • Cathy Love, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, SCANA
  • Pam Lackey, President, AT&T South Carolina

So many takeaways, so little time! A few quotes from the evening that stood out:

On Leadership Styles

Wellman: “Hire the right people and then get out of the way.”

Lackey: “I view my leadership role as one of making sure they have the tools they need to achieve the objectives we’ve set together . . . getting things out of the way.”

Bryant: “You have to create a foundation of trust. Once you have that, you can lead folks to change.”

Love: “Trust is lost easily; you have to foster it. Build in activities that build trust among the team.” (Like office book clubs, for instance; StrengthsFinder and The Advantage are two books that Cathy mentioned.)

On How to Prove Trustworthiness

Lackey: “Flag problems early. It sounds like a negative but it’s really not. It’s being honest about what the situation is, and how leaders and the rest of your team can help you achieve your goals.”

Bryant: “Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. That’s number one. Every day, find a way to bring value to whatever you’re doing.”

On Changing Workforce Trends

Bryant: “My experiences are over the last 35 years. What I need now is people who will help me embrace where we are today and where we’ll be five, ten, or 15 years from now.”

Wellman: “Seeing a resume from someone who changed jobs every couple of years used to be a red flag, but things are different today. Job hopping might raise a yellow flag, but not a red flag anymore.”

Love: “We’re requiring people to move sideways and learn different parts of the business. We’re looking for people who know more than just marketing and PR–people who have a variety of skill sets.”

L-R: Kim Wellman, Sharon Bryant, Chakisse Newton, Pam Lackey, Cathy Love

On Getting a Seat at the [C-Suite] Table

Lackey: “Look up the Harvard Business School study on The Care and Feeding of Monkeys. You get noticed by working hard and bringing solutions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Wellman: “Don’t get hung up on titles. What you need is access to the right people and the right information, and you don’t necessarily have to be a VP to get that.”

On Common Misconceptions about the C-Suite

Bryant: “People sometimes think we’re not as engaged; that we don’t know what’s going on. That’s not true.”

Lackey: “They think we’re too busy or don’t want to deal with issues. Don’t ever think you can’t reach out to the top level of leadership.”

Love: “The higher you go, it becomes less technical and more about people–how well you work with others, and the people you take with you.”

On How to Gauge Success

Lackey: Ask for feedback and be open to it. Be willing to be vulnerable. In response, ask: ‘What would you recommend that I do?'”

Love: “Once a year we review every team member’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, and survey all supervisors for feedback on what individuals need to grow and develop. It builds a level of trust and maturity that makes us all better over time.”

Want to hear more from the She-Suite panel? Check out the “live” video on AMA Columbia’s Facebook page.