What it does: MJ Dowell is a management consulting group focusing on human resources, coaching, workshops, philanthropy and public speaking.
Career: Dowell was previously vice president of foundation affairs and global community relations at Johnson Controls Inc. Dowell worked at Johnson Controls from 1996 to 2015, during which time she also served as director of global community relations and director of corporate human resources. Earlier in her career, Dowell was manager of employee relations and staffing at Master Lock Co., worked at Marquette Electronics and also was a licensed practical nurse.
“I would say definitely…getting a seat at the table. For me, early on, and actually off and on throughout my career, it was being part of pertinent meetings, discussions, conversations that were relative to moving forward.”
At one point, Dowell remembers her manager having meetings she was not a part of that directly related to the work she was doing.
“It was painful for me because I knew this was going on, but I didn’t know how to approach my manager or if I should approach my manager.”
Dowell felt she could add value to those meetings, so she did approach her manager with specifics on how she could help.
“I knew the ins and outs, I knew the details. I even had recommendations for enhancement, how we can make it better.”
“The company’s response and the resolution was that I was admitted to attend those meetings.”
Dowell was prepared for the manager to give her reasons for her exclusion, such as a lack of experience or a need to develop certain skills. And she was ready to collaborate on a solution with her manager, such as seeking additional training, if that was the case.
“Having those conversations, you have to be prepared to say, maybe I’m being excluded from those meetings because they don’t feel I have enough knowledge or background or maybe there’s something missing. We did go through that, but at the end of the day, it had nothing to do with me not being ready, me not being prepared, me not being knowledgeable enough.”
Positioning her case in the way she did disarmed the manager, and ultimately led to her success, Dowell said.
“I think the approach is very important. If you go in there accusing or angry, pointing the finger, it just makes it tougher.”
Learning to approach people on a conflict and asking them to help her understand a situation has helped Dowell throughout her career.
“What I learned was you have to be strong. You have to take risks. Because it was kind of a risk to sit down and have that meeting.” ν