For Women’s History Month, we’re proud to highlight strong, amazing women and their accomplishments that help make the world a better place.
Women’s History Month traces back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911, and since then has transformed into the month-long celebration we know and love. In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the women of LGC’s executive team that work tirelessly to provide support and guidance throughout our company. They’ll be answering questions and sharing advice on how they got to where they are today. Before getting into the Q+A, let’s learn a little bit about them:
VP of Operations
Rachel has been with LGC since 2010, where she worked her way up from staffing manager to VP. Her hospitality and foodservice experience combined with a hard work ethic has made her an unstoppable force at LGC.
Senior Regional VP
Jaime started her career with LGC in 2006 and is the second longest-working employee at our company. Her success at LGC has been because of her drive, compassion, and desire to be successful but mostly because of her love for the candidates and the clients.
Regional Vice President
Erin has a very strong background in the hospitality industry with 10+ years of experience in both hotels and restaurants. In her 4 years with LGC, she has made a huge impact on operations and client/candidate relationships.
Regional Vice President
Kim has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the hospitality industry and oversees our home branch of Indianapolis. She has a true passion for and dedication to the industry which is why she’s been so valuable to LGC since she started in 2009.
VP of Client Relations
Brittany joined our team in 2011 and instantly knew that LGC was where she belonged. With a background in hospitality and events, she’s the perfect fit for managing the success of our clients, candidates, and internal managers.
Shawnda has led LGC’s accounting division for the last 6 years and is a staple of our corporate team. She has extensive background in the accounting industry and has brought excellent leadership skills and financial insight to LGC.
Who is the most influential woman you know?
Brittany: My gran, Jessi Sullivan. She was a mother of 4 that wanted to work in a time when this was considered taboo. With no college degree or major professional experience, she was able to work her way up to becoming the first female Director of Finance (and female Director period) for the county I grew up in. She was self-taught, worked extremely hard, and did not take a single ounce of BS from any of the men that grossly outnumbered her along the way. I have had strangers approach me more than once to tell me that she pulled no punches and that she was the best boss they ever had. She also took chances on people without the proper resumes; lots of which were also women. My mother was one of those women and that is how she met my dad. She is also likely the reason I developed an affinity for heels. I remember on days where she would pick me up from school just hearing her clicking down the hall and knowing she was a total boss.
Erin: My mom. She’s been the best example of a strong, confident, successful woman throughout my life. She taught me to stand up for myself when I need to, be confident in who I am, and never settle for less than what I deserve.
Jaime: My great aunt Joanna. She was one of the first women executives for Sylvania when they were headquartered in Emporium, Pennsylvania in the 1940’s-1950’s. She started as an administrative assisted during WW2 timeframe. Later she took a job opportunity to relocate to San Jose, California while working for Sylvania’s HQ. To hear the stories she has of her career path are invaluable to me. She made some very tough choices to get where she is (not having children being one of them). She has really helped in more ways than one with my education, work, and family.
Kim: I would have to say my mother. She has taught me a lot in life and always told me I could accomplish and be anything I wanted to be. She told nothing would be handed to me, but that all hard work is recognized and rewarded. She has always been there for me and with praise and strength we have gotten through a lot. My father passed away last year, and they had been married for 59 years. It was very difficult on us, but each day I see how strong she is and how much I admire her. I couldn’t imagine not having her to talk to daily.
What have been your barriers and how did you overcome them?
Jaime: I was the first person in my family to attend college. Because of this, I really did not know where to start on how to get to a major university. I had assistance from my high school business teacher Dr. Sherry Malizia. She is one of the most amazing and incredible teachers I had. She saw potential in my business skills that I demonstrated. She helped me look into colleges and researched the career paths for me. Without her assistance and confidence in me, I would not be where I am.
Brittany: I have to say that I have been extremely fortunate for the most part; particularly here at LGC. Being a woman here has been more asset than barrier and knowing that support system is built in makes me feel super proud to work here. I have experienced barriers in other parts of my life that help me realize how great it is to be a woman at LGC. I cherish it!
Erin: I would say my biggest barrier so far has been allowing people to take advantage of me. I used to shy away from confrontation so I would accept behavior that was unacceptable to avoid being in difficult situations. I’m still working on overcoming that, but I have gotten so much better by setting my expectations up front and sticking to them. I just have to remind myself that if someone can’t meet my expectations, they may be better off working for another manager who will accept that behavior.
What makes you a good leader?
Shawnda: I believe two of my strengths as a leader are my ability to build relationships and teach/share knowledge with others. To be a good leader you have to know your team and what makes them tick, plus I just naturally enjoy getting to know people, so this comes easily. Having the ability to effectively teach your team members the skills needed to be successful in their position is not only essential, but also rewarding when you see them succeed.
Rachel: I like to think that I am fair and shoot it straight. I try to be a resource to all, to share my knowledge and experiences with others, so we can all learn from them. I want everyone to succeed at their dreams, sometimes more than them, and that is sometimes challenging to admit. I want to see others excel in their roles. I like to learn new things and new ways to do things, I am open to hearing others input and try to find the most efficient way to do tasks. I admit when I am wrong. I apologize when I should. I am not perfect, nor will I ever pretend to be. I am human, and have good days and bad, and I own them. I own my responsibilities, I own my successes and I own my failures.
Kim: Honesty is very important to me. I am upfront and people know what they get with me. I would never ask anyone to do anything that I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself.
Erin: I am kind, compassionate, generous, and lead by example. I am not “above” anything we do at LGC. I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do. Plus, I’d like to think I am pretty fun to work with!
Jaime: My beliefs start with understanding people and where they are coming from. Recognizing people’s skill sets is something that is very important to me. Leading by example from a professional level is also something that I make sure is demonstrated daily.
Brittany: I think it is because I put my faith in our people to lead themselves first, and I always try to meet everyone exactly where they are. I strive to be a safe place for people to bounce their ideas and to build their confidence to match their actual level of badassery. My number one motivator is to help – specifically to help people find their way to becoming their strongest self at work.
What advice do you have for young women who want to be in a leadership position?
Rachel: Go after your dreams, no matter what they are. Know that you have what it takes to be successful in anything you set your sights on, don’t let anyone box you in, including your own self.
Brittany: If you are also a people pleaser, do not let those fears of “making waves” stop you from being your authentic self. Share your ideas! Tell people the truth, even when it is uncomfortable or hard. Once I fully realized that I truly had that ability [at LGC], I feel like my career truly began.
Shawnda: My advice to young women would be to always believe in yourself, and to never let anyone stand in your way or dampen your dreams. Work hard, be confident in your beliefs and decisions, take responsibility when you make mistakes, and show compassion towards others. In my opinion, these things will carry you farther than anything learned in a textbook.
Jaime: Do what it takes to “know who you are”. Understand your strengths and vulnerabilities. Do not change to please others. Make smart and professional choices. Most importantly, continue to educate yourself personally and professionally.
Erin: Work hard every day, be open to criticism (good and bad), and know that it’s OK to fail. Also, you don’t have to be a robot. Be emotional and stand up for what you think is right no matter who it might anger or upset.
Kim: Work hard and face every challenge – don’t run away. Nothing is easy in life, but with commitment and strength we can be anything we want to be.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
Brittany: Because girls RULE!
Shawnda: We need more women in leadership for the diversity they provide. We all know that men and women work differently, and I truly believe we need the perspectives, knowledge and work ethic of both to get the greatest result.
Erin: Women are strong. We think with both our heads and our hearts. My favorite quote is from the Notorious RBG… “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Jaime: The overall number of women in top business roles is still painfully low. A recent poll suggests that only 5% of CEOs of major corporations in the US are women. This is something that I hope to see change in my lifetime. As a Mother of 3 (all under 10 years old), what we go through to have a family and work balance is very difficult to maintain. The amount of pressure that we have on a daily basis is incredible. But we can do it and we must continue to recognize women so our daughters can go farther than us.