Meet Your 2019 Power Panelists!

Collegiate Women in Business’ most empowering event of the year, Power Panel, is taking place on Monday, March 25th, so I want to give you all a sneak peek at the amazing women who will be speaking at this year’s panel! All three of them will provide helpful advice, inspiring stories, and deep insight into their values that help them strive to be courageous in their respective careers. With the everyday challenges that arise on the job, they are required to make courageous decisions that leave a positive impact on themselves and the people around them. They all started off as motivated students such as ourselves, eager to learn as much as they could before tackling the workforce. Before these women answer your most pressing questions, here’s an introduction to each of them in order to get to know them a little better.

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Frances Reimers  

Hometown: Cheyenne, WY

College Education: University of Wyoming; University of Minnesota Duluth; Johns Hopkins University

Favorite Pastimes: traveling, watching sports, going to theater/concerts, cooking, fashion

Favorite Quote: “You can bullshit the fans, but not the contestants.”

Frances Reimers is the founder and CEO of Firestarter Communications, which requires her to manage all aspects of the company, such as Accounting, Human Resources, Legal, and Marketing. When asked why she was motivated to establish her own Public Relations (PR) firm, Reimers responded that it was necessary she do so. “I had accomplished all that I could at my previous agency. I knew the services I wanted to provide and the clients I wanted to serve, so I saw no logical reason to delay creating my own firm,” Reimers said.

Reimers is proud of what Firestarter offers in order for their clients to “create, grow, manage, and protect their brand.” The services they provide include “personal brand and message development/enhancement, strategic planning, creation, and management of social media and content marketing, media representation, reputation management and repair strategies, and personal brand training for individuals and teams,” Reimers explains. Her clients range from individual athletes, such as NFL players, to entire small businesses. Reimers must educate and be educated about the specific needs of each entity she works with. “Many people don’t fully understand what PR  professionals do and the expected return on investment of their work. I spend a large amount of time with each client educating them about marketing and public relations best practices, project timing, and expectations,” Reimers said.

Every day, Reimers gets to help others reach to be their best selves. She loves being an educator by teaching clients about the creative process of business and feels this creates a strong client-vendor relationship. Reimers feels that “If I’m successful [with clients], what I do will serve them well not just at the moment, but for the rest of their life.” In addition to working with all of her clients, Reimers involves herself in philanthropic activities that are meaningful to her. Her PR career and volunteer work assure her that she has left a lasting impact in her profession and on her community, which is incredibly rewarding.

Tricia Harper

Tricia Harper

Hometown: South Dakota; spent high school in Chesterfield, VA

College Education: James Madison University

Favorite Pastimes: Anything outside on our farm (gardening, running around with the kids, cleaning the coop); and journaling. I’ve been journaling since high school 23 years ago…

Favorite Quote: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to START to be great.”

Tricia Harper was the first in her family to graduate from college and was persuaded to choose a major where she could start a career immediately following school. Accounting naturally came easy to her, so Harper made an effort to specifically talk to the accounting firms. “I immediately was attracted to the Partners from KPMG, as their style and approach, even in the interview, just resonated with me,” Harper said. As soon as she started interning at the company, she found that KPMG really does care about their employees as individuals. Since then, she is pleased to have spent the last 20 years working here! Harper admits she tends to lack confidence, so establishing relationships with co-workers over time is really helpful to her. “It’s important to find people you trust, and that are courageous enough to speak with candor, which I define as the equal blending of truth with love!” Harper said.

Harper is currently the President of KPMG’s Network of Women, which provides opportunities for career advancement for women in the workforce. “Over the last several years we have done some really cool events to stretch our women,” Harper said. Some of these events include improv to find your voice, alumni networking, and workshops focused on risk-taking and building one’s brand. As Harper continually strives to reach her potential, she feels that “being asked by our current Chairman and CEO to serve as her Chief of Staff for the last 5 years” has left the most lasting impression and shaped her as a leader.

As women in the workforce, there is more pressure on us to have a consistent work-life balance. Harper’s greatest achievement with KPMG is not only the fact that she was elected into the Partnership position two years ago but how she was able to do it at this firm. While this process took longer for her than other peers, she was able to achieve this despite changing her career path several times, taking a sabbatical in order to prioritize her three children, and working from home so she and her husband could start a ‘hobby farm.’ I respect Harper so much for this, as she is a proper representation of how women can successfully be there for their families and establish their career simultaneously, even in times where this may seem impossible. Her courage and persistence showed her that this was the path she knew she was supposed to follow.

Allison Sitch

Allison Sitch

Hometown: Southampton, England

College Education: Suffolk Hospitality College, England

Favorite Pastimes: time with my family, traveling to new destinations, & watching live music performances

Favorite Quote: I have two:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” -Margaret Thatcher

Allison Sitch works in PR for Marriott Hotels. In the hospitality industry, PR is very important, as Sitch tells The CWIB Chronicles thatA great PR person must be prepared to deal with things that make them uncomfortable…It’s a delicate dance to reassure customers that you’ll get to the bottom of something while simultaneously reassuring employees that you have their back.” She stresses that the “fluffy work” PR employees get a reputation for clearly doesn’t play a role at Marriott. “The team I work with is best-in-class at moving quickly to address issues and opportunities real-time and in multiple languages…We are recognized as an essential lever in an arsenal of tools that must be brought to life to safeguard the brand reputation and also to complete a marketing mix,” Sitch said.

Sitch’s job requires that she always puts the customer first, and there are many different types of customers she interacts with daily. “The public-at-large, the media, our own senior leaders, investors, hotels owners, and employees” all request her services. “Listening to their requests, understanding their needs, being able to translate information into strategic plans and actions, and then deliver in a way that demonstrates a benefit to the business is probably our biggest mission,” Sitch said.

In order to reach her potential in her career, Sitch shares the attributes that help her thrive in the PR Hospitality industry. Having a great attitude, being energized about your work, and therefore, working hard at your job are essential components in Sitch’s course to success. She stresses that you should “Never burn your bridges.” Establishing relationships with people who help you learn and grow are crucial for your advancement. “I believe you learn from the people you love to work with but learn even more from people you don’t enjoy working with as much…You have to take the good with the bad,” Sitch says. Finally, if you desire to be a leader, you must “be a leader that others choose to follow.” People choose a job not only for the work but for the type of people the company recruits. “They choose to give their loyalty and work for those they respect, admire and are inspired by,” Sitch said.

In addition to leadership, female empowerment is at the core of Sitch’s mindset, as it goes hand-in-hand with giving everyone an equal opportunity. Sitch is fortunate to work for female leaders who prioritize enhancing opportunities for women. She also gets to “work in a discipline that boasts many exceptional ladies and my circle of positive female influence also extends into the world of Public Relations agencies, editors and journalists.” She realizes that there are “So many brilliant women out there that have not waited for the call to progress, they have just done it,” so what is stopping each of you from doing the same?

After reading about each of Reimer’s, Harper’s, and Sitch’s backgrounds, I hope their stories have already motivated you to reach your full potential. Don’t miss out on your chance to be empowered even further when these women speak at Power Panel, located at The Inn at Virginia Tech on Monday, March 25th at 7:00 pm. Come with questions and an open mind to learn more about how you can always choose courage, no matter what obstacle you are facing.   

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By: Emma Harwood 

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