On November 15th I will experience the great honor of receiving the “Beyond Glass Ceiling Award” from NAWBO South Jersey (National Association of Business Owners). They presented me with this award for my support of the chapter, and I am grateful for the recognition. In lieu of an acceptance speech, the chapter board asked me to talk about what originally drew me to NAWBO SJ and how the organization contributed to my success. Here was my speech:
My success started with a strong work ethic instilled by my parents and role models. There were no “gimmies”. I worked at the age of 16 and graduated from college in the middle of gas crisis. Jobs were not easy to find. I landed a great opportunity in the cosmetics industry working for Max Factor. It was a world-class brand and, believe it or not, was a male-dominated industry. There was no glass ceiling; it was made of steel.
As a woman, I had to work harder and smarter than the men with whom I competed for promotions and awards. There was no pay equality. I learned early on in my career not to compromise my professional ethics to get ahead. As a top producer for the company, I was recruited to the consumer products giant, Gillette. Again, there were few women in upper level management. It was a great job with plenty of opportunity but the playing field was not so level here either. After winning 2 more national awards, I was recruited to BASF, a Fortune 100 company. At BASF, they not only had no women at the top echelon, but they also thought Americans in general were less sophisticated and short-sighted. After 7 years and hundreds of thousands of travel miles, BASF left the US market and I was out of a job.
After leaving corporate America, I ended up working for a local family owned businesses. I quickly learned that because my last name was different from theirs, I was considered a 2nd class citizen – another unlevel playing field. Out of all of these experiences, 1st Straw Marketing & Promotions was born. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year.
NAWBO South Jersey came onto my radar because I wanted to give back to the community by mentoring women who were just launching their own business. I wanted to build a network and “pay it forward” to future women business leaders. I put together “The Next Generation Scholarship Award” for the chapter, which gave me great personal satisfaction. We now have a formal program in place for up-and-coming high school women so that they know we women truly support one another.
From my business experience and my association with NAWBO, I’ve learned you have to work at cultivating a networking of giving among each other. It’s a challenging economy. Now more than ever we have to find a way to support one another. We will have a better economy when people and businesses start spending money.
As one of my mentors, David Blaise, just wrote:
“It is the job of every business owner, entrepreneur, marketing professional and salesperson to make that happen. Real entrepreneurs, real professionals, real business owners, real workers will prosper because we adapt to what is, not what we hope it will be.”
In the end, it really doesn’t matter who won the election or how hard things are “out there”. Commit yourself to your passion, your business, your family and, above all, yourself.
Never give up! [/box]
More About NAWBO
The Glass Ceiling Award honors extraordinary individuals for their contributions as women and women business owners. Because NAWBO is a not-for-profit, part of the proceeds of this event go to the One Year of NAWBO Fund, while other funds are set aside for educational events, lectures, grants, and seminars for NAWBO members and non-members in the community who are in need of business support.
The business climate has continued to improve thanks in large part to the dedication and tenacity of these female business owners and executives. They’re serving as trailblazers within careers once dominated by men, breaking the glass ceiling despite the nation’s ongoing economic struggles.
Chartered in 2003, The National Association of Women Business Owners-South Jersey (NAWBO) is a vibrant, professional group of women and men who come together to connect, learn, and grow through networking and educational events. We strive to help others grow in business by offering education and resource to women business owners in our region, and by providing exposure and promotion avenues for increasing member visibility.
- Currently 70 members strong and growing!
- You don’t need to be a woman business-owner to join
- Events and membership opportunities in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Atlantic, Cape May and portions of Mercer counties.