By Jessica D'Amico
On the evening of Wednesday, March 10, three of Rochester’s most successful female PR practitioners spoke to St. John Fisher College students on how to thrive as a leader in the corporate world.
The virtual meeting was held on night three of Fisher’s Lead Like A Girl Week; an annual, campus-wide event dedicated to learning from influential businesswomen and celebrating all that they’ve been able to accomplish in their respective fields.
The three guest speakers at the meeting included Kim Allen of Dixon Schwabl, Amanda DeVito of Butler/Till and Dresden Engle of Dresden Public Relations. With the discussion being moderated by junior Shannon Munier, Director of Events of the school’s PRIMA club, the three ladies were prompted to talk about their own work experiences and offer advice on how women should set themselves apart as leaders and as professional role models.
Munier kicked off the discussion by asking the women which qualities they would expect to find in a good leader. Allen responded by summing up that good leaders are simply good people. They always look to help others, and they are trustworthy in all situations.
DeVito stated that great leaders in her opinion possess three key traits: integrity, transparency, and authenticity. She also mentioned the unsung importance of having empathy and vulnerability, as these show great strength in a leader--not weakness.
To Engle, leaders demonstrate consistent ethical reasoning and are transparent in every task they undertake. They are genuine in their intentions and always strive to be their authentic selves in and out of the office.
When the three women were asked if they ever had to overcome obstacles in their professional endeavors, they all answered with a resounding yes. However, they all showed appreciation for those moments and regarded them as crucial learning experiences in their careers.
Allen stated that although those moments of difficulty are inevitable and initially disheartening, they reveal who you are as a worker and provide you with valuable insight for when you pick up and move forward. “Those are the moments that you learn so much about yourself,” said Allen. “Make sure you remember those experiences for next time and just keep moving on.”
DeVito added that graphs of success are not linear, but that they are irregular and unpredictable in shape. This, she said, is normal. “There are many ups and downs,” stated DeVito. “You have to pick yourself up and tell yourself, ‘I didn’t yield the right result, but I did learn from that experience.’”
Finally, Engle discussed the importance of mentorships in figuring out how to come back from a business misstep. She said that being a leader doesn't mean doing everything on your own, and that learning from others who have been in similar situations can be extremely helpful when planning how you will move forward.
For the final segment of the discussion, the three PR women were asked to give their best pieces of advice for aspiring corporate leaders or graduating college students just starting out in the workforce. Drawing on the early events and lessons that shaped their own careers, each revealed their top tips for achieving sustainable success.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” stated DeVito. “You will have to do tasks that you’re not necessarily in love with, but you still have to give your all every single time. This will allow you to stand out from the pack.”
Allen shared a similar sentiment. “You will not love what you do every day you come into work, but that’s okay. Figure out why you’re feeling that way, and then make a change or find a way to grow from that situation.”
Finally, Engle advised that when it comes to career-driven goals, it’s okay to revise them over time. “Your life may not follow exactly according to plan,” said Engle. “So always be open to chasing new goals, working hard, and seeing where life takes you.”
To close out the meeting, DeVito left the all-female audience members with an empowering message. “As women, we have been socialized in a way to suppress our immense power,” stated DeVito. “But now, we as women know that we have the potential to become incredible leaders, incredible workers and incredible community members.”