Unlike many companies, Shaklee has always had a high number of women leaders. In honor of their accomplishments and International Women’s Day, we asked three of them about finding balance, getting everything done, and paving the way for other women moving up the corporate ladder.
Q: To what do you attribute reaching your level of success?
Melina Baxter – Chief Marketing Officer: I love what I do, and I work hard. That’s it. That’s the secret. Progressing in my career meant staying passionate and dedicated to doing the best work that I could. It meant rolling with the punches. It meant being flexible and adaptable. Some of my greatest opportunities came after taking on new challenges and expanding my skill set. The more I learned, the more risk I took and the more I grew. My advice: Work for organizations that see and value your contributions rather than your gender.
Shobhna Asthana – Chief Financial Officer: I attribute my career success to many people at different phases of my life: My managers at the start of my career who were very supportive and encouraged me to find solutions to problems independently while giving me challenging goals to keep me motivated and growing. My spouse for being understanding of my long work hours that oftentimes spilled into weekends. My mom and sister for stepping in to help with the kids during my frequent out-of-town business trips. And, my kids for understanding when I had to prioritize other items higher than their wants. It’s imperative for working moms to have a support network to step in when and as needed. I attribute my success at Shaklee to the company culture, where all are treated equal and contribution and work ethics are recognized, encouraged, and rewarded.
Kelley Moran – VP, Human Resources: The foundation of my career was based on following opportunities that weren’t necessarily typical, like working in different countries or leaving a stable job to follow my passion and get my master’s degree in Women’s Studies in Ireland. This allowed me to learn so much, to be more adaptable and more confident. I think that helped me be up for new challenges and next steps in my career more quickly than I would have otherwise. At Shaklee, I have never felt that the broader gender gap issue ever came into play; it’s truly one of the reasons I feel so lucky to be at Shaklee.
Q: What other women inspired you most/lifted you up along the way and how/why?
Baxter: I have worked with and for incredibly talented and inspiring women over the course of my career. They’ve pushed me, supported me, demanded the best from me and I am forever grateful. My biggest joy is seeing people who have once worked for me go on to have incredible careers—I’m happy to have had any part in their journey. Pay it forward, ladies! Be generous with your time, help as many people as you can along your journey. Push and support people to their potential and you’ll get the same in return.
Asthana: I have learned a lot from my maternal grandma. She was very progressive in her thinking, even during her times, and encouraged all of her kids and grandkids to seek higher education and be independent. She encouraged me to always be truthful to myself, reach for what I wanted to achieve, work hard, and look after others with compassion. Though she had a large family, she made time for each of us and taught us life lessons by telling stories that stayed with us.
Moran: My mother was one of 4 women in a class of 100 who graduated from business school in 1954. At that time, it was not typical for a woman to even attend business school. She instilled in me that if I wanted something to go after it; don’t pay attention to what is “typical.” Also, my first manager/mentor at KPMG was a woman who saw potential in me. She went out of her way to give me opportunities and taught me that this is a core element of leadership.
Q: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Baxter: Be the person who says “Yes, and….” Be the person who raises their hand. Be the person who jumps in to help. Be the person who brings the team together to find solutions. Be the person that adds value. Take pride in your work at every step. Make sure what you do brings you joy. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries—you need to bring your whole self to work, so dedicate time to your non-work self. Take that vacation, take time for your loved ones, invest in yourself: Don’t stop your life because of work; build it together.
Asthana: We can do it and be supermoms, be career women, travel, and socialize, but we need a network we can rely on. There is no shame in asking for help when needed and, in turn, helping others when they have tough times. Anticipate busy times and find opportunities in situations. Be open. Your team should know where they stand regarding their work performance and expectations. Try to be hands-on and tactical to start with to be able to manage strategically later. Be open to new ideas, but at the end be able to step up and make an informed decision. Be accountable and hold others accountable while giving them stretch goals. And most important: People are more important than anything else. You need to treat everyone with respect. Do not ignore their personal family needs while balancing work needs.
Moran: Be who you are, be visible, and take calculated risks. Connect with and lift up others around you. Don’t be afraid of struggles and challenges; everyone experiences them. What you learn from them will only help you be a better leader.