“I have never thought of what I can’t do, I only thought of what I can do. That is how I approach everything, and I always think about what I can bring to the party, what can I do today that is better than yesterday,” said Michelle Moore, Head of Consumer Advanced Solutions and Digital Banking with Bank of America. Moore provided the Keynote address at the Hampton Roads Chamber event, The Glass: Evolving the Business Woman, on September 20th.
In its third year, this fall session of the series featured an informal discussion panel, 2 individual breakout sessions and the keynote address. All of the sponsors for The Glass series are businesses that focus on empowering women and hold diversity and inclusion as a part of their values. As the member spotlight sponsor, Jaclyn Travis of Atlantic Bay Mortgage said, “We are strong believers in hiring women, almost 70% of our national footprint is women, with 40 in leadership positions. The culture that we have at Atlantic Bay is not being about money, but about people doing the right thing, you are able to have a voice and have growth opportunities.”
With an audience of over a hundred women and many men from a wide range of industries, there was a palpable energy. Priscilla Monti, Hampton Roads Chamber Senior Vice President of Programs and Communications, introduced the panelists and encouraged the audience to network and make new friends. “We are much strong together, and we’re doing this together. All of our sponsors want women to become better leaders in this community. The more you give, the more you get,” Monti said.
The day began with a free flowing panel discussion comprised of a powerhouse of local leaders, Emily Farley, National Sales Manager, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Jackie Ferree, Associate Dean of Finance and Administration, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, William & Mary, Amy Carrier, Chief Operating Officer, Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Delceno Miles, President/CEO, The Miles Agency. The discussion began with Monti asking each of the panelists what they believe contributed to their success.
Emily Farley said, “Work hard, care about the people you work with, and have fun. It’s really important to ask for what you want, the key is to learn from the people around you.” Amy Carrier said, “The one thing I have done that has set me apart is the willingness to take risks, and manage my career like it is an investment portfolio. Every time I take a new position I do what I can to make myself more marketable.”
Jackie Ferree said, “As women, we always think we have to work harder, but by demonstrating that I do what I say I will do and that my skills align with what I say I can do, I am recognized as a trusted advisor.” Delcino Miles who was the firstborn in a family of 8, said, “I try to align myself with positive people. I was born a leader, literally. I’ve carried my family values into my career, community and church. It’s important to set that example. I did not see a lot of women executives growing up and to see that now, and to see that I can help with legacy building to help them put the pieces of a puzzle together is important. I want to help build them up. Making that path a little less rough for those that follow me.”
There was much discussion about the importance of mentorship and legacy building. The panelists were open to questions from the audience which ranged from what advice they would give their younger selves, how to balance their work and family lives, to how to dress for the job you want, as well as how to seek the practical skills needed to advance in a field. The answers were as varied and dynamic as the panelists themselves.
“Wonder Woman is a fictional character. It’s okay to want to do everything, but don’t do it all at one time. There is a wonderful powerful word in the English language, ‘no.’ It’s okay to say no, you will always walk in excellence, just do it one thing at a time. Put your cell phone down when you are at lunch with someone. Take care of you, take time off and breathe. There’s no “S” on anyone’s chest up here, we are not perfect beings,” said Miles.
“I would tell my younger self to chill out a bit. I think if we look back at ourselves along our career, we are not the same person. I’ve grown as a leader. Overtime what is asked of you as a leader changes, so as you progress you will have to develop new skills. You will shift from being the best and brightest and the tightest wound, to the person who brings out the skills and talents in others,” said Carrier.
Regarding skills that women can learn to work their way up, Farley said, “Collaboration and communication are key. You can’t collaborate if you don’t understand each other and people’s different personalities. Educate yourself on the differences in people and how those differences can be strengths."
“Self-awareness is huge. The more you can engage with yourself and write down what you want to do and observe those behaviors in others, so that you recognize them and know how to respond. Especially when you are in stressful situations, the more you learn about yourself and how you engage with others is practicing listening to really hear,” said Ferree.
After the panel, the audience could choose between two breakout sessions. One with Winifred Bragg, M.D. CEO, Physician, Best Selling Author, and Speaker which focused on her own BRAGG® Factor, strengthening women’s ability to communicate with confidence and lead others effectively; and one with Ha Koehler of Seventh Point on “Branding for your Business and your Life.”
Bragg, presented an energetic, humorous and practical presentation that demonstrated how to introduce yourself in a 15 second elevator pitch and the art of networking and promoting yourself. “They say women lack confidence, but we don’t like to brag. We don’t promote ourselves as men do. I had to learn how to promote myself because the men were not going to give me any credit. You deserve better.”
Bragg encouraged the audience to write down their most important goals and share them. “Write the goal down, give yourself a deadline to achieve it and define what makes you special. You should have three things. What have you experienced that most people haven’t? What have you done that most people haven’t? What do you know that others don’t know?”
The group learned how to keep their own “brag book,” expand their comfort zone and grow their gift. “You won’t get promoted if you don’t promote yourself,” said Bragg.
Ha Koehler’s presentation was interactive, informative, and very relevant using current topics to apply to her presentation. The audience participated in a brand quiz where they were asked to identify brands by their nameless logos. The exercise demonstrated what Koehler said is, “The telling of your story. It’s who you are, what you do, and why it matters.” The discussion ranged from what is in a brand to how to be true to your brand both as a business and personally. “In today’s world, branding becomes extremely amplified. Perception is your reputation.” The audience was asked to examine what defines their brand and left to realize the importance of “defining your brand before someone else does it.”
After lunch the audience gathered for Michelle Moore’s Keynote address. Bank of America is the Series Presenting Sponsor and Leslie Doyle, Managing Director of U.S. Trust, introduced the Keynote Speaker “Our business is the business of families. We love the energy and connections that come out of this event. One of our greatest strengths is our diversity and inclusivity that allows us to better connect. We know it’s important to invest in women and to invest in organizations that support women and girls. We know the power that women have and the investments in women are always returned,” said Doyle.
Michelle Moore began her speech by sharing that she was the only daughter in a rural farming family with 4 brothers. As she spent her youth doing all the same activities as her brothers, she rarely stopped to think about what she couldn’t do. As the product of this environment she said, “Most of the time I walk into the room and I’m the only female, but I don’t think about that. I think about doing my job, we are all just there because we are doing our jobs. I’m as good as they are, probably better and I just go out about my job.”
Moore discussed her meteoric growth at Bank of America as a series of strategic decisions and attributes it to reminding herself at each new stage of her career, “that I wanted to learn something new and gain a new skill even if it meant getting out of my comfort zone,” she said.
After her address, she entertained questions from the audience and responded candidly. Since her current position combines both finance and technology, two fields that are male dominated, she described a technology conference she attended with over 1,000 participants and only around 20 women. “This concept we have been talking about, ‘the glass ceiling’ and standards of success is not something I really see. I don’t see a ceiling. I know what I can bring to people and I tell people about that. I have very deliberately managed my career,” Moore said.
When asked about work-life balance she said, “My career accelerated post children, and maybe it’s because I let go. I sought help, mentors, and training programs. I reached out, I was vulnerable. I let myself figure out how to get help. Be as aggressive or non-aggressive as you’d like, you manage your career. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being told to stay where you are, make sure you ask why?”
It was an empowering and inspirational day learning from women who have achieved the highest levels in their careers and evolved the idea of the business woman. The day was truly about passing on those skills, giving back, mentoring and volunteerism, which was emphasized many times. With advice that was both tangible and intangible, a range of generations and experiences, women recounting the ground breaking achievements of their mothers and grandmothers, leaving a legacy of broken glass ceilings and fulfilled dreams is the future these women paved and the high bar they set for us all.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and works as a powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor and impactful advocate for our diverse and inclusive business community.
Thank you to our sponsors: Bank of America (Presenting Sponsor), Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group (Member Spotlight Sponsor), ADP (Speaker Sponsor), The Salvation Army Kroc Center Hampton Roads (Host Sponsor), William & Mary, Virginia Beach Convention Center (Gold Sponsors)