NYWICI panel: Be bold, gutsy, and don't always say yes

Reinvention was a key topic during New York Women in Communications' panel on Tuesday entitled Risks, Rewards, Real Talk: Getting Ahead on Your Own Terms.

Reinvention was a key topic during New York Women in Communications' panel discussion on Tuesday entitled Risks, Rewards, Real Talk: Getting Ahead on Your Own Terms.

The four women on the panel moderated by Jean Chatzky, journalist and best-selling author, provided first-hand knowledge of how tricky the concept can be when navigating career crossroads.

Prior to Target, Dustee Tucker Jenkins, VP of public relations at the retailer, worked in politics in Washington DC.

“Adapt your style to what the organization needs at the time,” advised Jenkins. On the advice of her father, she writes down everything she observes at a new company through “fresh eyes” not because these are elements to address immediately. This can serve as a playbook for a first year in a new role, she added.

Cathie Black, author, investor, former chairman of Hearst Magazines, and New York City Schools Chancellor for 96 days, said yes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's offer to help revamp the city's education system because she was interested in a role in public service after a long and successful career in publishing.

With truckloads of press outside her door 24/7 and staunch opposition to her hiring, Black said she agreed with her dismissal.

“I have never worked so hard and been unable to see the time when things would get better,” said Black.

Despite the outcome, Black does not regret her attempt at a new career path. “You have to be bold and have the guts to do it knowing it might not work out,” she added.

A question from the audience addressed the issue of women who find it difficult to ask for raises or to say no on the job when they have too much on their plate. Jeannine Shao Collins, EVP and chief innovation officer at Meredith 360, said with a laugh, “I'm the wrong person to ask; I say yes to everything.”

Chatzky called for some finessing when that situation arises. “You don't have to say no, but you can't always say yes.” Use language such as “let me find out how we can get that done for you,” she advised.

Black also lent her no-nonsense style to the topic of asking for a raise. “If someone says, ‘I need more money,' I think, that's your problem,” said Black. Getting a raise is a conversation about professional accomplishments and knowing your worth. Black did add that she feels that the work overload on middle management is at a critical level and the key to managing it may involve looking at tasks from the perspective of the client or customer rather than from the view of internal management.

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