It’s often fascinating to reflect on the roads traveled that led you to the place where you are today. I’ve written about that topic before, but this time I’d like to explore it from the angle of the women I’ve known who have had the most influence on me during my journey. I encourage you to consider the women who have influenced you on your journey as well.
Many of you might start with your mother. At the risk of oversharing, I can’t begin there. Instead, I would start with my grandmother, who worked well into her 70s when being in one’s 70s was considered “old,” doing menial jobs and providing financial support to my parents during the most challenging times for my family when they weren’t working, and my sister was dying of cystic fibrosis. I was too young and immature to view her as an influence then, but now looking back more than 50 years later, there’s no way we would have had a roof over our heads, food on the table, new clothes, and medical bills paid without her assistance. Although my grandmother may not have had a direct influence on my career choices, I now understand the sacrifices one must make for one’s family, including working jobs that may not be all that fulfilling.
Later in college, three women professors provided me with much-needed confidence in my writing. There was the journalism professor who, rather than give me a poor grade on an assignment I half-assed, gave me an A for an article I wrote in that month’s school newspaper instead. I must also credit my film professor who encouraged me to do an independent study course on the films of Orson Welles. After I completed my paper and received an A for my efforts, she suggested I take an expository writing course to improve my writing. I should have listened to her, but I was full of myself, having just sold the first short story I had ever written and submitted for publication to a not-so-underground magazine for $75. I still have that acceptance letter, as well as the rejection letter for the second story I submitted. I’ll never forget when I landed my first magazine job, and another one of my journalism and film professors, who was one of my references, gave me a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Cumulatively, those encouraging words, advice, and acts of kindness have influenced me and have helped lead me to where I am today.
I imagine many of you have been equally fortunate in your lives and careers thanks to the women who have influenced you on your journey. In this issue, you will find profiles of three women in key roles within their organizations. All are chief financial officers, marking the first time the women profiled in our Women Influencers issue have held the same position. Like the women who have influenced me, I suspect they are influencing those around them as well.
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