Panel of five alumnae tell how to find success within the workplace

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Yesterday afternoon, the K-State College of Business Administration hosted “Successful Women of the College of Business Administration,” a panel of five distinguished alumnae of K-State discussing how they found success within their industries.

The panel included Lois Cox, vice president for investment and chief investment officer of the KSU Foundation; Candace Duncan, area managing partner for KPMG Peat Marwick Foundation; Tina Glover, chief financial officer for Family Member Veterinary Hospital; Joleen Moden, senior vice president of internal auditing for Verizon Communications; and Tammie Wahaus, chief financial officer for TVAX Biomedical Inc.

To start, the panel’s host, Myranda Kimble, program associate for the College of Business’ professional advantage program, spoke with the panel about what success means to them. Duncan described success as something students need to strive for on daily basis.

“If over a length of time, you do a great job every single day, wow, when you look back 10 years later, or 20 years later, it is amazing what you have accomplished and the difference that you have made,” Duncan said.

Another subject that the panel discussed was pivotal moments within their careers when the women most felt their success. Wahaus said she felt most successful when peers that she worked with previously on projects would call her and recruit her to a new company, or project, years later.

“I can’t tell you how flattering it was to be contacted by a former colleague of mine saying ‘We need you to come to GE, we know you can do it, we know you know nothing about the reinsurance business but we know what the rest of your skill set is, and you will learn the business. We need to acquire what you have, we need you to lead this team,’” Wahaus said.

A concern among today’s students might be ways to combat the everyday challenges within the business industry. Kymble asked the panel about challenges they had to overcome in their previous experiences. Duncan recalls a time when she worked in Washington D.C.

“The biggest challenge I had was when I was asked to be the managing partner in Washington,” Duncan said. “It was a very large office of 200 partners, and a lot of people could have been selected. When I was asked to take that on, I went into it, 110 percent going into the door. I was new to this group of individuals, they had never had a female managing partner; they knew I was from Kansas and someone asked me if I was going to click my ruby slippers and said ‘if I need to!’”

Another challenge that was brought up by the panel was the challenging work environment.

“One of the challenges we had [is] what I am going to refer to as the ‘toxic CEO,'” Moden said. “Somedays he was wonderful and you would say ‘I will follow you anywhere.’ Other days, you said ‘I think I’d like to shoot you!’ … and I quit from that company two or three times.”

Moden went on to explain that ultimately the company brought in a new CEO and started improving overall.

When the panel was asked about ways to differentiate yourself within the workplace, Duncan responded with a story explaining that one of her mentors once told her to “take your differences and let them distinguish you, people will remember you because of your differences.”

The panel also stressed the importance of building diverse teams within the workplace that can look at problem solving techniques with unique viewpoints.

“There is nothing worse than having across the table from you, a female CEO, a CFO from Asia, maybe there is a white male or two, but your whole team is five white males,” Duncan said. “We really think about that and it has truly made a difference, so take your differences and embrace them.”

Mackenzie Lutz, sophomore in business administration management and marketing, said that she really learned a lot from the panel.

“After this afternoon, when I start my career, I plan on really stepping out of my box, and taking opportunities that come my way,” Lutz said. “I am going to take risks and set myself out from others, I will accomplish things that others may not want to do.”

During the concluding remarks, the panel stressed the importance of learning a second language, studying abroad and developing a strong relationship with an executive mentor.

“One way to start networking is to get involved with the executive mentor program now, if you aren’t already,” Cox said. “I think that is an excellent initiative that we have started here, and that is one way to start, in addition to networking with other students and professors.”

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