At Cintrifuse’s recent “Building a SHE-cosystem” event at Music Hall, REDI Cincinnati President & CEO Johnna Reeder and other Greater Cincinnati leaders gathered to share business wisdom, answer questions and observe International Women’s Day, a global effort celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Other local leaders on the #PressForProgress panel included Cincinnati councilwoman Tamaya Dennard; Gloria Ware, director at KeyBank Center for Technology and director of innovation and inclusive growth at JumpStart Inc. and moderator Barb Lee, founder & president at PointMade Learning & Films.
Reeder offered personal stories about being a woman in the male-centric world of economic development. “Some people didn’t know what to make of me,” she said, “but I adopted my work ethic from my father, who used to tell me, “I don’t care what you do in life; I want you to be happy, but above all, I want you to be able to take care of yourself.”
Here are the other top takeaways Reeder shared for aspiring young women in business:
- Set the trend: If you are a woman performing a job for the first time it may seem uncomfortable, but you’re setting the precedent — you’re changing the culture and mindset. You’re the next role model.
- Manage your career: Be the leader of your own career. Don’t wait for others to come to you.
- Make room for yourself: Men don’t have to give up their seat at the leadership table. I just tell them to scoot over a little bit.
- Have a proactive mindset: Push forward to bigger challenges and opportunities. Ask yourself, ‘What am I ready for?’
- Open doors for others: I’ve been fortunate that some great people helped open doors for me during my career, and we all need that. In the C-suite, it’s still a lonely place.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a leader: Know what you offer.
- Find a sponsor: Identify someone who will be your champion, and be ready for opportunities and promotions.
- Use data to make your case: Instead of letting your emotions take over, go back to the data. If you can make a good business case, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.
- Advocate for what you want: Men generally are more comfortable talking about their career path. You’ve got to press forward and show the value you add to any team from day one.
- Keep connecting: Build the social and business network that will expand your circle of influence.
- Sharpen the saw: Invest in your skills, entrepreneurship, understanding finance — whatever it takes to be the best in your chosen field.
- Always be motivated: Each generation makes the path smoother. Don’t focus on the roadblocks, but on how you can surpass them.
Reeder closed the panel by sharing one of her favorite quotes from author Ayn Rand: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?”