Messages of Confidence, Inspiration at Women in CE Annual Reception
Deb Boelkes of Business Women Rising expected to speak to a group entirely comprised of women the morning she keynoted Women in CE's third annual breakfast reception on Sept. 10 during CEDIA EXPO 2011. To her surprise, the audience included a healthy representation of male colleagues, which only reinforced Boelkes's message of striving to create stronger, more inclusive teams in corporate America.
Boelkes, an experienced professional within the business development, sales, marketing and operations leadership areas, is most noted for establishing and building successful professional services and Internet-based services organizations within Fortune 500 companies. She founded Business Women Rising two years ago.
Most of Boelkes inspiration came from her father, for whom she began working at the age of 12. Her father taught her that she could be anything, that there exists no glass ceiling when it came to her ambitions, which for most of her career focused on becoming the CEO of a company.
He taught her that math was fun, which fueled her interest in trigonometry and physics, where in her first college class of more than 600 students at UCLA, she was astounded to see not another woman.
Boelkes has had stints at AT&T, IBM, Fujitsu and Arrow Electronics, where she enjoyed working on new and leading-edge technology. But, like in her first college classroom, she consistently noticed the lack of women in her work environment.
Less than 3 percent of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women, she shared. And 46 percent of new hires leave their job in the first year. Boelkes believes women can affect change in these areas.
Instead of focusing of "delighting the customer" (another piece of advice from Boelkes's father), most companies focus on leadership in shareholder value, excluding not only the customer but the employees as well.
Change begins by focusing on what you enjoy about your work, which often includes elements of your job that allow you to be creative, influence others and control outcomes, says Boelkes.
"What we need is inspiration, and this is what women contribute to the workplace," she added.
Women can further succeed in corporate America by following some of Boelkes's "secrets" which include:
- Defining success
- Avoiding being "such a woman"—focus on what you CAN do/offer to a position, and not what you cannot
- Ask vs. Task—ask for what you want
- Prioritizing continuous learning—make developing yourself/professional career a mandate
- Becoming a mentor; have a mentor
Also addressing the group was Tricia Nystrom, Sr. Merchant, Best Buy, Magnolia, Audio & Home Control, and Women in CE member. She spoke about WOLF@Best Buy, the network of thousands of employees who work with individuals, brands, partners, stores and communities to help Best Buy build strong women leaders and capture a greater share of the female consumer electronics market.
Carol Campbell, founder of Women in CE, also honored Jayme Schwartz and Kim Fabiano Fassetta, of social4media, with the organization's Volunteer of the Year award.