BGSU leadership event celebrates 'Becoming a Woman of Influence'
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 10:18
More than 500 women from as far away as Nashville packed into the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at Bowling Green State University Tuesday to glean advice on "Becoming a Woman of Influence."
|Amy Shore speaks during BGSU’s ‘Becoming Woman of Influence’ conference on Tuesday. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Keynote speaker Amy Shore, a BGSU alumna who is now senior vice president with Nationwide Insurance, was one of six females in high leadership roles invited to talk about what it takes to make it to their current position at the sold-out event presented by Huntington and co-hosted by BGSU's original Center of Excellence in Developing Effective Business and Organizations.
Shore talked about what the business and social climate was like for women in 1964, the year she was born. Among other hurdles:
• Want ads were segregated by gender and race;
• Sports opportunities were limited;
• Marriage was deemed "the ticket for the life you want";
• If you were an airline hostess, you were automatically kicked out of your job at age 32 because "it was time for you to stay home and have children."
As an 18-year-old, Shore recalled sitting down on the family's Naugahyde sofa to discuss her future with her parents.
"I was being recruited by colleges" but Shore's father told her, "Girls don't need to go to college. Maybe you can go to secretarial school and work until you marry and stay home."
Shore's mother sat there silent.
Her father's words "lit a burning desire" in Shore, who vowed to herself: "I'm not going to be a secretary, I'm going to have one."
She managed college all on her own, the first member of her family ever to gain a degree. Shore started at community college, then transferred to BGSU, "always working two jobs, and always one of them at a restaurant because that way I knew I would get something to eat."
Her mother eventually "became a strong advocate for me in the way that she could. She sewed clothes for me, slipped me $25 a month from her grocery money so I could eat."
Shore graduated with a 4.0 and tore into a career that currently sees her in charge of a team including eight regional vice presidents, and two staff vice presidents that lead 1,500 associates and 3,500 agents.
Several personal attributes have been critical in making that climb, Shore said.
The first is "adaptability," she said of a career that has involved working three different jobs and living in six different cities "thanks to a fabulously supportive husband and kids." Her spouse decided 15 years ago he would be a stay-at-home dad. "That's what allowed me to relocate." But she told her company up front that she would not make any moves while her children were in high school.
"The ability to be adaptable is probably the single biggest trait I look for when I'm interviewing prospective employees" because of the speed at which things are changing in the business world today, she added.
Shore also believes she benefitted by changing companies because it forced her to "learn new cultures."
Also of value - her devotion to continuous learning.
"I was able to study after the children went to bed" and "demonstrate to my bosses" that she was serious about her career even though she was a mother.
These days, Shore is an avid reader, especially of biographies of women who have had historically significant impact. Recent volumes about Catharine the Great, Cleopatra and "The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer's Daughter to Prime Minister" are loaded onto her Kindle.
Among the final attributes that Shore considers important for a woman seeking success are:
• Clarity about her goals, "a gift that comes with time;"
• "Compassion in action," which allows a woman to capitalize on the social norms still assigned to women in a way that allows her to be effective, nonetheless. This is often achieved through "servant leadership," community service, sponsoring and mentoring others.
"Sponsoring someone is helping them when they're not in the room. It's not the same thing as mentoring others," she clarified.
Shore quoted former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who once famously said there is a special place in hell for women who refuse to help women.
Shore encouraged the women in the BGSU audience to have more confidence in themselves.
She cited a study in which a job description was created which listed five requirements. Males in the study "felt free to apply for the job if they met two of the five requirements."
Women, by contrast, "did not apply unless they met four of the five."
The only true difference between the two groups of applicants was their level of self-confidence.