For Lisa Anders, MBA ’95, getting the lead as senior project manager on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall was the ultimate sign of success in the male-dominated business and engineering fields.
Anders is vice president of business development at McKissack and McKissack, a woman/minority-owned organization specializing in architecture and construction management, and has 22 years of construction project management experience. On February 10, 2012, she joined members of the Smith Association of Women MBAs (SAWMBA) and the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA), along with female faculty and staff, at the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Inaugural Women Leading Women event and reception, sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations.
Smith School Director of MBA Alumni Relations Sharon Strange Lewis spearheaded the event. Strange Lewis envisioned an event that was female-focused, would harness the power of women in the workplace, and was cross-generational.
“With women ages 18 to 60 and older in the audience, and with Lisa as the final piece to our puzzle, the event was a great success,” she said.
Hillary Wilson-deGrazia, MBA ’12 and SAWMBA’s vice president of marketing, represented students on the planning committee for the event. Wilson-deGrazia viewed the event as a great opportunity for female students, alumnae and community members to come together for networking.
“The event was fantastic. As a student, it was very impactful to see Lisa’s accomplishments,” Wilson-deGrazia said. “I am so glad this event will continue in the future.”
Anders is currently senior program director for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. While at Smith, she shared her key lessons for succeeding as a female in a male-dominated industry:
Lesson One: Be true to yourself
“Do something you are good at, you enjoy, and you can make money doing. Follow your dreams, but do so in a calculated way, so that you can provide for yourself.”
Lesson Two: Proceed with purpose
“Make sure you have a solid formal education. Once that is achieved, set yourself up for professional opportunities by choosing the right company for you, and asking higher-ups to be a part of opportunities, instead of waiting to be chosen. In other words, chart your own path.”
Lesson Three: Strive for excellence
“Excellence is not only a result of your knowledge base, but also your dedication and perseverance. If you are dedicated, you will gain the respect of your superiors and male counterparts. This elevates your visibility in the organization and marketplace, and is part of building your personal brand.”
Lesson Four: Have confidence
“Once you complete lessons one through three, you are in a position of strength and confidence, which will allow you to take on more challenging opportunities and stretch assignments.”
Lesson Five: Cultivate what comes to you naturally
“Use the soft skills and leadership skills that come naturally to you as a woman to your advantage. These skills include listening, collaboration, thoughtfulness, passion and humility. “
“With these five lessons in your toolkit, you can gain respect from your peers, while sustaining your career growth with influence, power, control and most importantly, grace.”
Rachel Hester, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Office of Marketing Communications