Collegiate Women in Business held their 6th annual Power Panel on April 8, and first ever Zoom Virtual Power Panel, with three incredible women as the panelists: Christina Daves, Jill Mills, and Vicki Petrides. The event consisted of a Q and A moderated by our VP of Showcase, Abby Riggs. Emma Harwood’s overall impression of the Power Panel was that “the panelists were truly passionate about conveying to us that women can do anything they want in the workforce. From flying planes, to starting a business, or working in male-dominant positions, we shouldn’t be afraid to speak our ideas into truth because we have a powerful effect on those around us.” This event was inspiring and everyone that participated in Power Panel walked away with important lessons learned. Lauren Miles’ biggest takeaway was that “if you work hard enough and are determined to succeed, you will always be able to work out your path in life.” We are so thankful to these three women for giving us insight on their experiences and memorable advice. Grace Farmelo’s favorite piece of advice was from Vicki Petrides, “you are the only one who can limit yourself.” Below is a recap of the event for those who may have missed it or want a reminder of how empowered, prepared, and connected “she is.”
What was your biggest challenge after college when entering into your new professional life?
Vicki Petrides talked about how after graduating from college she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She didn’t have terrific grades and found herself second guessing her abilities. Her first year in the job market she received many rejections and decided graduate school was the best move for her to find her way. While in graduate school, Vicki volunteered and tried different jobs to gain experience and find her niche. She found that she really enjoyed doing statistical work for museums because of her love for art and history. When it came to settling down in a career she had two paths available to her, working for an art consultant or as a statistician at Abbott. After some deliberation she decided working for Abbott made the most sense for her at the time because of the stability offered by the job. Her first job at Abbott wasn’t exactly statistics, but she knew she made the right choice and enjoyed working for the company. With an interest in healthcare, Vicki stayed with Abbott and continued to move up in her career!
What was the biggest disadvantage of being a woman in your industry?
As a pilot, Jill Mills is a minority being a woman in her industry. When she started her career, only 2% of her field were female. Luckily, that percentage has slowly grown to 7% but Jill says the “entire industry has been geared towards men, that was the norm,” and she hoped to change the status quo. Being a female pilot, she never felt she was any different but did understand others saw her as different. In fact, Jill recalled having to take a personality test as a means of entering the aviation industry from the get go, and the results said she wasn’t fit for the job because she was too much of a girl, “well that’s a good thing!” Jill remarked. It turned out that the personality test used in the aviation industry had been skewed towards men. Jill hoped to make the aviation industry more accessible to females and saw her disadvantage not as a fight, but more a test of patience. Her advice for women in similar positions would be “figure out how you can change your field for the better.”
If you had to choose one word, what do you think “she is “ represents?
Christina Daves chose the word collaboration, believing “you should surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and collaborate with them because they will lift you up further in your career.”
Vicki Petrides chose well-connected. Being well-connected helps Vicki in her remote job because she knows who to reach out to and who she can rely on to get things done.
Jill Mills chose powerful, saying she “truly believes that ‘she is’ means girls are so much more powerful, in a gentle way, in a sense of staying strong, committed to your path and having a powerful inner self.”
What is one thing “she is” not?
Christina said “she does not give up.” As an entrepreneur, Christina has inevitably been faced with moments where she wanted to give up. She was trying to market her CastMEdic designs but had been facing 5 months of “many doors closed.” Just as she wanted to give up, she received an email inviting her on the Steve Harvey show, an opportunity that launched her business. Christina said “you’re going to fail, it’s a fact of life, but that’s okay as long as you grow and move forward from it.”
Vicki said “she is not at a disadvantage being female. As a woman in STEM, Vicki believes she is actually at an advantage because she stands out and people remember her. Vicki noted that “being a woman is something to be proud of, you bring a perspective others may not have if in a male dominated field.”
Jill said “she is not incapable,” women should “stick to the course, stay with the course, and prove them wrong”.
If you could give your college self one piece of advice what would it be?
Christina said she would have told herself to “just ask!” Christina believes most people won’t tell you no because they probably want to help.
Vicki would have told herself to network more and not be afraid to tell people what you want! When she was in college she felt shy about networking. Now being on the flip side, she says that regardless of age or where you are in your career many people are eager to help you.
Jill would have told her younger self to embrace college. “Let the stress and struggles mellow down, because these lead you down a path to exactly where you’re supposed to go.”
As a woman, how do you balance your career with your personal life?
According to Jill, if you have a big goal understand that there will be sacrifices. She said “you may have to miss some events with friends as you are progressing in your career and in life.” All three women could agree choosing a partner who supports you and your goals is incredibly important to maintaining a balanced life. Christina has sought to be a role model for her daughter and her son as far as showing him what a strong woman looks like. As women, choosing a partner who believes in us as much as we do helps our own careers flourish, as well as represents to our kids what it looks like to be successful in work and life.
What are your thoughts on glass ceiling issues for women?
All three women agreed they don’t believe there is a glass ceiling for women anymore. Vicki believes that “you can only really limit yourself, don’t let anyone tell you no!” Jill replied, “ Women have been successful, we have the ability to do anything despite getting ‘no’s’ along the way.”
What are your future goals?
Christina has more recently discovered her true passion of speaking to people and helping them achieve their goals, she hopes to continue doing this as long as she can!
Vicki hopes to promote the voice of other statisticians to let them know they have a lot to contribute and can have a huge influence on the way the company and industry goes.
Jill dreams of flying bigger planes in the coming years, as well as focusing on giving back and being a part of the future of aviation.
Thank you so much to Christina, Jill, and Vicki for sharing their stories and inspiring pieces of advice with us! We will take your encouraging statements with us as we pursue our careers and believe we can achieve the goals we have for ourselves.
By: Lindsay Barnes