It’s that time of the year again! Power Panel, on April 8th from 7 to 8 pm via Zoom, is back for another year to celebrate the key values of CWIB; empower, prepare, and connect. Our inspiring panelists, all women in business who excel in their careers, will go live online to speak to their own experience in the workforce, take questions, and offer advice for navigating the modern working world as a woman. Learning from those who came before you is a valuable opportunity, so don’t forget to ask questions and get engaged during the event. Each of these ambitious women have a unique story they are excited to share with our members at the panel, but before then, here is a little bit of background on our speakers.
Hometown: Northern Virginia
Education: Virginia Tech
Hobbies/ side hustles: Spending time outside, taking boxing classes, and mentoring students as a member of the Virginia Tech Marketing Board. She also features products on TV as an on-air spokesperson.
Role Model: Her grandmother, who moved from Russia to Berlin during the Bolshevik Revolution to start a new life. She endured Nazi rule in Germany, while being of Jewish faith, and even after horrible treatment from relatives who joined the Nazi party, she persevered and learned to forgive those family members. “She taught me to be strong, to always believe in yourself, do the right thing and the rest will happen.”
Christina Daves is the founder of PR for Anyone® and CastMedic Designs. In her role as a PR agent at PR for Anyone®, Daves helps businesses improve their social media presence by teaching people how to publicize their skills and knowledge online. This helps businesses quickly gain exposure and bring in many new customers.
When asked how she arrived at this point in her career, Daves claimed it was mostly by accident. After graduating college and losing her father to cancer, she let go of a potential job in Germany to pursue entrepreneurship. She planned events, sold real estate, and started a company that performed feasibility studies for potential buildings. Then, after owning a retail store with a friend for 10 years, she sold her share and befell an accident that put her in a medical boot. This boot was the beginning of CastMedic Designs. Daves found the boot to be an eyesore and designed fashionable ways to decorate it. Bringing her product idea to the marketplace, she realized that she had to educate her consumers about her new product and taught herself public relations techniques for social media. She and her product have been featured on many popular news outlets, like FOX and NBC, as well as a variety of magazines and newspapers. Noticing her success, people began to call her and ask for help gaining exposure for their own businesses. From there, PR for Anyone® was born.
In terms of obstacles in her life and career, Daves claims that as an entrepreneur, “you always have to be ready to pivot.” Losing her father was one of her greatest obstacles in life, but it has helped to shape who she is today. Her advice on facing life’s challenges is to learn how to “fail forward” and learn from your mistakes, as well as realizing that sometimes you may have to be patient and persistent to get what you want.
On another note, one of her greatest successes was publishing her two books, the second of which hit the #1 spot on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She also enjoys seeing her clients experience success from her PR services. She credits some of her current success to her experience as an officer for the Chi Omega sorority at Virginia Tech, in which the national branch implemented a system she had designed for her own chapter. This has given her the confidence to put her business ideas to the test and move forward from failure.To anyone looking to pursue a career in public relations, Daves says that “you don’t always have to follow the system.” By teaching herself the skills she needed to know, she created her own system and shares it with others. Hard work and adaptability are key, especially for women entering the workforce.
For Christina Daves, ‘She Is’ means that women support one another and collaborate in the workplace. “When women collaborate and lift one another up, magic happens!”
Hometown: Born in Kansas City, Missouri. Lives in Virginia currently
Education: Virginia Tech
Hobbies/ side hustles: Running, triathlons, snowboarding, and mountain climbing. In her spare time, she lobbies for aviation and international safety issues as a member of the Technical Staff for Flight Safety Foundation. She also fund-raises for kids with cancer and heart disease at an organization she co-founded, Swing For A Cure.
Role Model: Her career role model is Jane Garvey, the Federal Aviation Administration Chief and a leader in the aviation industry. In her personal life, she looks up to her dad, Joseph Hahn, “for his tenacity and huge dreams.”
Jill Mills is a 737 Captain and Line Check Airman at United Airlines. In her position as Captain, she coordinates all teams needed for a flight and ensures that the plane is flown to its destination on time. Her ability to collaborate with others is crucial, as she works with many different departments, including flight planning, maintenance, flight attendants, and ground personnel. As a Line Check Airman, she flies with new pilots and upgrading Captains on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration and as a representative of the flight training program.
Mills gained experience with flying early in life, and confesses to life-long love of planes. Coming from a military family, she has fond memories of flying with her dad and brother on weekends. She did not believe that her love of flying could lead to a career in aviation at the time, because women did not fly in combat. That was until she discovered the ‘general aviation program,’ which offered a career in flight outside of the military. After graduating from the Pamplin School of Business at VT, she made her way through flight school, taught others how to fly, and flew corporate jets as a way of gaining experience before applying to fly at a commercial airline.
As a female pilot, Mills faced many obstacles. When she began her career, women only made up 2% of the industry. In fact, she claims some people would leave the plane before take-off upon discovering that she was a woman, or would mistake her for a flight attendant. But, she credits her father for encouraging her and recollects that he “did not see any difference between the boys and me.” She also endured many common challenges for all pilots, including passing her flying skill test and long hours, but those experiences ultimately helped her gain respect from her colleagues. Regardless of what has stood in her way, she has chosen to see “the humor in most of the negatives,” and still loves her career.
Mills is proud to have been both an instructor and a Captain for a major airline. She also enjoyed knowing that she made a difference in her industry after the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill passed, since she lobbied on different aspects of the bill for many years. Mills believes that aviation is an amazing field of work because it combines so many different interests from the world of business. Her business degree has helped her explore other areas of work in her industry, such as hiring, safety, and lobbying. It also broadens the horizons of business and allows it to run smoothly across the world. In her words, pilots “literally move the world.”
To be successful as a pilot, she says you must have a stellar work ethic and ability to focus on the goal at hand, because “once you make a plan, it’s like being dropped off in the middle of the snowy woods without anyone there to help.” Being strong and not letting obstacles take you off track from your objective are also key characteristics of a good pilot. Mills encourages anyone entering the working world to discover what you love to do and “make it your life!” And, that it’s okay if that takes some time because if you listen to your heart, you can always make your dream a reality.
For Jill Mills, ‘She is’ means that women can do anything if they “work hard enough and dream big enough.” At her place of work, she illustrates ‘She is’ when she puts her Captain’s uniform on, because she knows how much work it took to earn it.
Hometown: Born in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland.
Education: University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and University of Cincinnati
Hobbies/ side hustles: Spending time with family, biking, swimming, and gardening to name a few. Skiing is also one of her favorite activities.
Role Model: Her father, Lee Hill. He has always inspired her to be at her best and gave her the confidence to follow her dreams. She remembers the lessons in business he taught her and her sister while they were growing up, including how to give a proper handshake and how to debate sensitive issues. She believes that he continues to teach his grandchildren these lessons, as well.
Vicki Petrides is the Principal Research Statistician for Abbott Laboratories. As a statistician, she designs studies to assess the performance of laboratory diagnostic tests. She also reviews and summarizes the results of those tests and explains the results to regulatory authorities. Her role requires her to interact with scientists, doctors, engineers, marketers, and regulator professionals across the globe. She is also the Statistical Working Group Co-Chair for AdvaMed, a medical device industry trade association. As Co-Chair, she organizes an annual joint statistical conference between the FDA and her industry and consults on issues affecting the diagnostic industry.
When asked about her career path, Petrides explained that she took a job at Abbott after graduate school based on her interest in health care research. She recollects that this was a groundbreaking time for medical research, as Abbott was developing a drug to help HIV patients that was being reviewed by the FDA. This exciting development inspired Petrides to continue working at Abbott, where she continues to enjoy the exciting work her industry offers. A source of pride for Petrides in her career was when she became the lead statistician on Abbott’s cardiac troponin test. She was working on this project as research on troponin’s effectiveness at diagnosing heart attacks was being published. Allowing the use of troponin for heart attacks “transformed standard medical practice” and continues to do so today. She appreciates knowing that she contributed to the improvement of cardiac disease care, especially since her family has a history with the disease.
One of the most notable challenges in Petrides career was balancing her work life and her family life after the birth of her first daughter. She asked to work part-time after returning from maternity leave, but her boss asked if she could work full-time from home three days per week, instead. She says that the challenge made her feel “simultaneously excited and nervous,” but that the situation ended up working well for her. Her experience as one of the first people in her organization to work remotely actually helped her to succeed in her career because instead of setting her back, it provided her with an opportunity to explore a new method of working that elevated her skills and productivity in the eyes of her colleagues and superiors.
To anyone looking to join her in her field of work, Petrides says that statistics is always exciting and versatile in the way it can be applied to other fields. She claims that she once considered pursuing a career in assessing museum visitor experience satisfaction, and that she knew classmates that became economists and survey research scientists. Young women interested in statistics should be confident, according to Petrides. New employees often make the mistake of spending too much time solving a problem by themselves or of pretending to know more than they really do. You must learn to ask for help, foster relationships, and celebrate successes. “Enjoy yourself and keep in mind what is most important to you.”
To Vicki Petrides, ‘She Is’ means that women are valuable team members with great ideas. Women are leaders “who take measured risks, seek new challenges, and overcome what others perceive as obstacles.” At her place of work, she demonstrates ‘She Is’ by being a spokesperson for her colleagues and promoting their skills, mentoring, and giving her colleagues the same kind of confidencer her father gave her.
After getting to know a little bit about these fantastic women, I am sure you are excited to hear from them face-to-face! If you would like to hear more about their professional journeys, their struggles, and their triumphs, make sure to tune in on April 8th at 7pm, using this Zoom link https://cwibchronicles.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=99609e65f0e244bc90f6fa6c0&id=1108105b98&e=738cb4ddf8. If you want to keep up to date with the event details, check out the Facebook event page here, https://cwibchronicles.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=99609e65f0e244bc90f6fa6c0&id=29cf362ec6&e=738cb4ddf8.
By: Lauren Miles