‘Be your own woman’

In conjunction with the Tempo Envision Pulse Event, Small Business Times recently asked several prominent southeastern Wisconsin business women to share their insights from their experience with the next generation of female business leaders. The following are their responses.

Carla Rutley – board president of Tempo Envision

“Women often engage in self-defeating behaviors (gossip, taking business personal, etc.) that can sabotage their careers. Learn how to let things go. Always act professionally, and carry yourself as though you know where you’re going. Even if you don’t have all the answers, seek them out and maintain your confidence. Don’t discount your gut instinct. If something does not sit right with you, it probably is not right. Learn how to accept constructive criticism in all aspects of life and grow. Keep flexible, and most of all, enjoy the journey and live your best life now.”

Carroll Ann Schneider – CEO, chair and founder of Seek Careers/Staffing Inc.

“Have enough confidence in yourself and your talents to do whatever it is you choose!  When you are criticized, brush it off! You can have it all – marriage, family and career!  If what you are doing fulfills you and your family, what does it matter what others think?”

Edie Boatman – director of fund development, SHARP Literacy, Inc.

“Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor. I wanted a mentor for years, but didn’t know how to go about getting one. Finally, I just wrote a letter to a businesswoman I admired, asking her to mentor me. She sent me an e-mail within minutes saying she’d be happy too. It was just that easy. Since then, I have found that the people I admire are more than willing to offer help and advice. I wish I would have started asking years ago because I have learned so much from all of them.”

Linda Wickstrom – manager of marketing and communications, United Way of Waukesha County

“Manage your career. It may sound simple, but truly sit down and write out where you want to be, what you want to do and how much you want to earn. Much in life can be gained by asking for what you want, to include the amount of vacation and salary you earn per year. Employers tend to assume that applicants with better compensation records are more capable than those who have been paid less. Though you may believe your salary history doesn’t accurately reflect your true capabilities, employers sometimes fail to hire the most talented people for the job based on past earnings. Take deliberate action to manage your career. It will be a proactive step toward long-term professional and financial success.”


Susan Eick – vice president of commercial banking, Park Bank

“Results are important, only if you stay true to your values and build relationships along the way.”


Kelly Brown – senior vice president of marketing, First Wisconsin Bank & Trust

“Top-performing women in business rely as much on their intuitive skills as they do their analytical ones. While it is the profound effect women have on their businesses that garners them attention professionally, it is what is born of their intuition that defines their lasting legacies. It is each of our professional and personal achievements that are leaving the mark on corporate America and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in our businesses. Women in leadership roles need to reflect on how their progressive leadership and inclusive management styles are making an impact on their businesses’ top and bottom lines and opening doors for others – men and women alike – to acquire the tools for top performance at their businesses.”

Dr. Robin Ware – campus executive officer, Ottawa University’s Wisconsin Campus

“As professional women, we should be bonding together, not stabbing each other in the back. We have enough competition and negativism from others. We, at least, should stand united. Network as often as you can. This is great not only for business contacts, but for a way to get to know other people. Tempo has really helped me, because I have only been in Milwaukee since mid-June. I have already made connections with women in Tempo. The women I have met during my corporate visits have been very open to my presentations, and I am pleased to say, one has accepted my invitation to be at the Tempo dinner. It’s time that we showed the business world that it’s OK to be caring, to be emotional and to be women. We can still get the job done!”

Karen Vernal – president, Vernal Management Consultants, LLC.

“Organizations tend to be excited about a new hire until she shows up! When you begin a new job, focus your energy on building relationships. Others will be much more likely to hear your recommendations for change if you are on solid ground in your relationships. Take time to understand the cultural norms in the workplace. Every organization has invisible agreements that can be challenging to uncover. Consider inviting a respected leader within the organization to serve as your mentor. Honor your values. Own your ideas. Recognize your strengths and opportunities for growth. Be intentional about what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it!”

Ann Nischke – engineering/skilled trades recruiter, SEEK Careers/Staffing Inc.

“As the chair of the Tempo Envision Pulse Event this year, I am just delighted to have our focus be on women’s leadership in a business setting. There is no doubt that there has been quite a change over the years. It’s a cliché, but we have come a long way, baby! Women have always worked hard to make it in the business world. In the early days of Tempo, women even chose to dress more like men so that we would be taken seriously.  Remember the severe business suits with the modified ties? We have often been treated differently than men in the workplace. During an interview to become the first woman CEO of a YMCA in the state of Wisconsin, I was asked a question that would NEVER have been asked of a man: “Does this position scare you?” My advice has always been that women bring to the table skills, talents and the ability to inspire and lead in ways which are different from what men can contribute. Take advantage of that difference, keep your life/work balance and be your own woman!” 

Barbara Prindiville – President of Waukesha County Technical College

“Take time to learn from mentors and make time to mentor others.  In that way, you will help achieve your own goals while helping others achieve theirs.”

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