RIDGEWOOD, N.J. --- Ever wonder about the women who, over the years, have climbed to the top positions of major Fortune 500 companies? What risks they took? What gender bias they may have encountered? What insights they can offer the rest of us?
Pulitzer-Prize-winning Journalist Joann S. Lublin did -- and now she's got a book full of insights from 50 such trailblazers, many of whom managed to juggle both a high-powered career and family, a chapter in and of itself.
The Ridgewood resident -- one of the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal -- faced a number of uphill battles in her own career and wanted to showcase -- if only as a way to "give back" to women in her daughter's millennial generation -- how to successfully navigate the corporate battlefield.
"Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World" (Harper Business) combines her story with insightful tales from women at the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, a majority of them CEOs of public companies across a wide range of fields (think retailing, manufacturing, finance, high technology, publishing, advertising, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals).
Among those interviewed: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta, Virginia Rometty, CEO of Armonk-based IBM, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Maggie Wilderotter, the former CEO of Frontier Communications. The latter two women are siblings and the first sister CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in U.S. history.
Lublin said she wrote the book to showcase the barriers these women had to overcome as well as the fact that many of those barriers are still problematic today.
Among the lessons learned from her book: the importance of taking calculated risks and remaining resilient and persistent, no matter what.
As for career advice? Lublin said there are several chapters on getting your foot in the door and getting noticed. "There's a whole chapter on getting picked and the lesson of 'bloom where you are planted,'" she said. "In other words, don't reject a job that doesn't fit your ideal vision because you never know what it is you're going to do and where it's going to take you." Several women in her book, said Lublin, took jobs no else wanted, which gave them exposure.
Along with appealing to those just entering the work force, "Earning It" also includes anecdotes that many moms will relate to, namely the acrobatic juggling act that working women deal with daily. What she found surprising: How many chief executives seem to have figured out how to be a mom and a manager and not get caught up in the blame or guilt trip that so many women experience. "They figured out ways to be happy in the moment," said Lublin. "It wasn't easy and it wasn't without its setbacks and crisis, but they proved it can be done."
She cites an example of Sally Smith, President and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings who, when she had young children, came to work one day with mismatched shoes -- one black and one navy -- and another time when she wore the wrong contacts and wondered why her eyes hurt so much.
Learn more when you meet Lublin Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.; she'll be signing books at Bookends Bookstore in Ridgewood.
She'll also be speaking Thursday, Dec. 1 at a "Tribute to Women of Influence" event hosted by the Bergen County YWCA, at the Garden State Mall. And on Thursday, Jan. 19 she'll be speaking at a free event at the Ridgewood Public Library at 7 p.m.
Go to www.joannlublin.com/ for more information.
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