A Conversation for Entire Organizations
Switching careers requires careful planning. The challenges multiply when a person tries to jump from the nonprofit sector to business. Becky Eisen, MBA ’12, faced both scenarios when she came to the Smith School.
Before enrolling in the full-time program, she worked as poverty campaign coordinator at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Today she is an associate product manager at McCormick & Company, a manufacturer of spices, herbs and flavorings in Hunt Valley, Md.
To help pull off the two-year transformation, Eisen built an expansive support network. She conducted dozens of informational interviews and shared job prospects with her classmates when opportunities suited their interests more than hers.
“Many people helped me along the way,” she says. “In return, I tried to open as many doors as possible for myself and my classmates.”
She says the corporate world needs similar types of coalitions to bring gender issues into the open. “Some of these questions are still hush-hush,” she said.
Although events such as Smith’s annual Women Leading Women seminar have value, Eisen said men also need to join the conversation.
“You need everybody in the organization, regardless of gender, to address the barriers to women,” she said. “You cannot do that if only the women are talking about it.”
Eisen said the potential payoffs are huge for companies that learn how to close the gender gaps in senior leadership and elsewhere. Many consumer products companies have an additional incentive.
“Our consumers for the most part are women,” Eisen said. “We win as a company when our leaders can identify with our customers.”
She said individuals who need flexibility in their schedules to manage personal commitments — such as child or elder care responsibilities — can help their case and move the conversation forward by delivering measurable results at work.
“Prove your worth first,” Eisen said. “Then when life happens, your company should do its best to support you.”
Related story: Smith Builds Momentum on Women’s Issues