This August, we honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Women’s Equality Day on August 26 commemorates the 19th amendment and the women’s suffrage movement, the fight to win the right to vote for women. With the 2020 general election right around the corner, it’s never been more important to highlight the voices of incredible women! We’re celebrating by highlighting women in power at ACE Cash Express.
For this post, we sat down with Janet, our Senior Vice President of Store Operations. Janet shared what it means to have a seat at the table as a woman in the workplace and the power of believing in your capabilities.
Q: Can you talk a little about your time here, and how you got to this point?
Janet: I started here almost eight years ago in a new role as VP of Retail Operations, where my task was to build a training team and develop better communication with the field. It was a great opportunity for me to come in and build a new team. Over time I got more responsibilities. I was promoted to Senior VP of Retail Ops and took on more project management in the field. Then three years ago, I was promoted to my current role.
I came from a large telecommunications company, and when I was first looking for a new role, I wanted a bit of a smaller company where I would have more ability to impact change and to sit at the same decision table with other senior leaders.
The part of my job that I love the most is going to stores and talking to our employees. I can discuss how they can grow their business, what their challenges are, and how we can better help them. That’s where I really feel energized.
Q: Is there a defining moment from your career that you can share with our audience?
Janet: Years ago, I had a boss who gave me opportunities to do things I had never done before. His voice to me was, ‘you’re good at communication, you’re good at leadership, you can do these other things.’ That really helped me to realize that I could do more than I was giving myself credit for. I hadn’t been in senior management roles that long, and it was a great chance for me to learn not to be afraid.
That experience was a defining moment early on in my career. I learned that you have nothing to lose by trying. I think you’ll surprise yourself with what you can do. When I started [at ACE], I didn’t know the industry. It took me a good year to really learn the business. But then it was about taking what I learned and my [prior] experiences and applying them to something new and different.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a leader?
Janet: To me, it’s about helping people reach their potential. I like to challenge people and push them in a good way. I think people are often surprised at what they can do. That’s what I really enjoy. I love when a lightbulb goes on for someone, and they realize that they can exceed expectations or do more than they thought.
This past year we had a challenging goal to meet. We put some things in place to help us get there, and we did meet the goal. But if I had led the way saying, ‘this is too hard, we won’t be able to do this,’ it wouldn’t have happened. I feel that you don’t learn unless you’re uncomfortable, so I ask myself how do I help people realize their potential in all that they do?
Q: What does being a female leader mean to you?
Janet: We’re so fortunate [at ACE] that we have so many women in senior roles and roles throughout the organization. We also have great male leaders who recognize us. I’m the first female in my role in the 50 years of our company, and I’m proud of that fact. But I’ve also been in roles where I was the only woman in the room. I started my career at a different time, where being the only woman in the room meant being the one that they asked to get the coffee.
I think women can do more to help women. I ask myself, how are we supporting other women leaders in our organization? How do we help new female leaders have access to meetings, to networking, to advisors, to whatever they may need to help prepare them? Everyone has a voice and has a right to a voice.
Q: What would you tell a young woman who has aspirations to be in a role like yours?
Janet: Don’t be afraid. Have an opinion. Have a point of view. Volunteer for things. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’ll take on that project’ or ‘I’ll lead that.’ Then you can become more visible in the organization, and people get to see the quality of your work. Sometimes what happens is, no one really sees the hard work you do because you’re not speaking up about it. Give people exposure to what you can do. It puts others in the mind frame that ‘oh, she can handle that new responsibility.’ That’s certainly what happened to me.
Remember: you’re in the room to contribute and have an opinion and a point of view.
Q: Who is one woman in your life who has influenced you?
Janet: You know, the usual thing for me to say is, my mother. She was a remarkable woman, and a bold woman at a time when it was scary to be bold. But I would also say, my daughter-in-law. She is someone I admire. She’s young, but she has built a strong career at a young age. She’s a marketing director at a female-led agency in New York. What I love about her is that she’s so creative and she just consumes information. She always wants to learn more. I admire her boldness and curiosity, being able to act on her ambitions while remaining a very genuine and down-to-earth person. My mom is still my idol, but to see a young person building their career is wonderful.
Q: What piece of advice has someone shared with you that you’d like to pass along?
Janet: Know your audience and know how to read your audience. I’ve been in meetings where I’ve done tons of preparation, and I got my ‘yes’ in the first five minutes, but I just plowed on because I had done so much research and I had a list of things to say! I should have stopped at “yes.”
Another piece of advice is to sleep on big decisions. There are times when I’ve made a decision in the heat of the moment, and if I had taken some time to think about it, I would have made a different decision.
Q: In light of the elections this year, what would you like to say about voting and why it’s important?
A: Take the time to learn which candidates are closest to you in ideas and values. You matter and your vote matters. Don’t miss the opportunity to shape the future.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Janet: I would just say that you should enjoy your career. There will be good days and bad days, but if having a career is important to you, it should be joyful. I don’t mean that every day should be a party, but it should bring you joy. You spend so much of your life working, so you have to find that spark.
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