Sheila Wellington, President of Catalyst Foundation Inc., New York City, exhorted women students, faculty and staff members at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) last week to exceed performance expectations.
“To succeed in business ya gotta’ produce,” Wellington told 200 students, faculty and staff members. “Not only must you have results, but you must also work hard and consistently exceed performance expectations.”
Wellington then continued describing the success factors that highly placed women in business say have worked for them, barriers to getting ahead and ten personal axioms that have guided her career.
Success factors included:
* Find a style that makes male managers feel comfortable. “These women worked at fitting in,” said Wellington. The best way to fit in? Learn to play golf.
* Find a mentor. Look for someone who will not only coach, guide and advocate, but also fan your ambitions. Wellington attributed her best career gain to the advice of a psychiatrist she once worked with at the Yale School of Public Health. The fellow urged her to speak out about a position she was about to lose. She did and got the promotion.
Barriers facing women included:
* Exclusion from informal male networks, such as after work get-togethers.
* Male stereotyping and negative perceptions about women. Worst ones include: Women are not committed to their work; don’t take risks; won’t move for a promotion; leave when they have a baby.
Axioms for success were:
* Perform beyond expectations.
* Prioritize time. Organize, organize, organize.
* Blow your horn.
* Use expertise to impress. “You are here at NJIT learning technology,” she said. “That is very smart. People will turn to you for that skill.
* Take the initiative.
* Diversify experience and skills.
* Know what you are worth and negotiate for it.
* Demonstrate readiness for the daring, the new and the original.
* Network. “I know people who stay in touch with kindergarten friends,” she said.
* Be strategic. Don’t get pushed into an unwanted support role.
Much of Wellington’s data came from the most recent Catalyst survey of 1200 highly placed women in Fortune 500 companies that received a 45 percent response rate. About 30 percent of the responders were chief executive officers.
The talk was the final event celebrating a month-long series of lectures, movies and more centering on improving the environment for women at NJIT as well as in the world around them. Event sponsors were Murray Center For Women in Technology, located on the second floor of the Hazel Student Center at NJIT and Albert Dorman Honors College.
Sheila Wellington, author of Be Your Own Mentor (Random House, 2001) is president of Catalyst, Inc., the nation’s leading non-profit research and advisory group for the advancement of women in private sector business leadership. Catalyst researchers track women’s progress in the uppermost ranks of corporate America through censuses of women corporate officers, top earners and women board directors. Under Wellington’s leadership, Catalyst’s annual awards to women-friendly companies have become the coveted corporate Oscars, tokens of success in the “war for talent.”