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‘Perseverance Is A Necessity’ — Celebrating Women In Business This American Business Women’s Day

Friday, September 20, 2019

Exactly 70 years ago this month, the American Business Women’s Association was founded. Its mission: to bring business women across the economy together in order “to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.” 

Today, women are filling the ranks of managers and even C-suite offices, but we’ve not yet reached parity, not by quite a stretch. One of those C-suite officeholders, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Inc., once dreamed, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

American Business Women’s Day is Sept. 22. This year, it’s a Sunday. Kinetic Business by Windstream wants to honor all of the business women who are our customers and future customers, colleagues and teammates by highlighting some of their secrets to success — and advice! — in their own words.

PAMELA W. CARNES

President and CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce since 1996

Have you had mentors who have impacted your career? Who inspires you?

I have to circle back to family as my parents are both entrepreneurs, so I’ve seen what it is like for them to be at the top of their game or challenged by a recession. Their work ethic and desire to make a difference in other people’s lives provided a foundation for my professional career. Of course, in the Chamber of Commerce profession, there is someone in another community often dealing with similar circumstances that can be an excellent sounding board. There are also countless volunteers, including new board chairs annually, who are willing to share their business and leadership insights.

What would you tell new business women?

I often times find myself brainstorming with people I may or may not know regarding what they wish they did versus what they are doing. I ask them what it is they enjoy doing so much that if they could figure out how to get paid for doing it, they would have found their dream career!  Without realizing it, I found that ‘happy place’ when I joined the staff of the Cherokee County Chamber (in 1991). 

MEGAN McMULLEN ODOM

Licensed insurance account representative at Southern Insurance, Blakely, Ga., who helps run her husband’s row crop farm and has started a photography business

What’s helped you to get where you are today?

As Woody Allen said, 80% of success is showing up. I also believe perseverance is a necessity, and the rest just falls into place.

What role does technology play in your career success?

Technology has come so far in the last 10 years. Being able to do so many things electronically has given me the ability to be twice as productive in a business day.

 

SHARON L. HALL

Independent insurance agent and benefits consultant for 23 years

Have you had mentors who have impacted your career? Who inspires you?

I have had two. The first was my Sunday School teacher when I was in high school, Mrs. Helen Talton, who was a very successful Atlanta business woman back in the 1970’s and one of the first women pilots. I came from a very poor family and, at that time, a very small town. Mrs. Talton was such an amazing woman with class, style. She was very professional. She and I stayed very close until she passed away about 10 years ago.  My other mentor was an AFLAC agent who took me under her wing 23 years ago when I began, Mrs. Pauline Dorsey. Pauline truly believed if you told someone something it should be correct, and you always did what you said you were going to do. Pauline had such a great relationship with her clients from the owners of companies to every employee.

What would you tell new business women?

Be educated in your field. Always be prepared. Seek out mentors. Pay attention — listen. Make sure you are keeping good company with people who have the same aspirations as you and people you can trust.   

 

KRISTIN KING

Windstream vice president of small business direct sales with more than 25 years in consumer and business technology 

Your work life in under 50 words

A Windstream leader who strengthens organizations (Inside Sales , Field Sales, Account Management) by driving higher levels of productivity, revenue, profitability and customer loyalty. A recognized leader, repeatedly chosen to design and implement mission-critical solutions to address organizational challenges while building, inspiring and empowering high performing individuals and teams.

Have you had mentors who have impacted your career? Who inspires you?

I have been surrounded by amazing people who have helped shape my career through the years. My most impactful mentor encouraged me not to compete with others but to be the best version of me. He encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and engage in parts of the business that were unfamiliar to me. Being uncomfortable wasn’t always easy, but it allowed me to round out my experiences in other parts of the business — to be my best me. 

What’s the next big hurdle for female business leaders in your industry or in general?

Many female business leaders have self doubt. In those cases, self doubt, a fear of being outspoken, has negatively impacted the personal brand of the female leader. Overcoming those challenges will help ensure that we see more female leaders in C-level positions in technology. 

 

KRISTI MOODY

Windstream executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary

Your work life in under 50 words

I work with internal clients — any of the more than 11,000 Windstream employees — to help resolve a situation or advance a project/decision/timeline. I provide Board support along with managing a small but mighty team of professionals handling claims, legal issues and risks for Windstream.

What’s helped you to get where you are today?

Focusing on advocating for my internal clients and not giving up until I feel that a reasonable result has been reached. 

What’s the next big hurdle for female business leaders in your industry or in general?

Generally speaking, I think that female leaders are still considered “novel” or “exceptions” and that must change.  We need to reach a point where it is expected for women to be in leadership roles and taking charge of projects.  Additionally, there continues to be a gender pay gap that will likely be the most significant hurdle to overcome. Based on current projections, women may not reach equal pay status in the next 60 years. That means that my two daughters will continue to face this issue when they enter the workforce, and we as female leaders must change this.