The School of Business MBA program convened an impressive panel of leaders to discuss the ways innovation and change can be sparked through authentic leadership.
Panelists included Wake Forest University President Susan R. Wente, School of Business Dean Annette L. Ranft, and President and CEO of Allegacy Federal Credit Union Cathy J. Pace. The event was held in celebration of Women’s History Month. The group of dynamic women shared their individual journeys to becoming leaders, the significance of mentorship, and the importance of leading authentically and collaboratively while strategically focusing on opportunities to drive innovation and excellence.
“As a leader, we have to create an environment that allows people to innovate and also allows for failure. A lot of the resistance to change that I think we encounter has to do with a fear of failure, quite often,” Ranft said. “Creating an environment where we collectively understand the challenges coming at us, and creating an environment where individuals can try new things, measure results, and evolve, is an important part of what we do.”
When referencing her leadership values, Wente noted her three T’s — trust, transparency, and teamwork. She also discussed what it takes to be at the forefront of educational innovation.
“I think there has never been a more important time for higher education, in every aspect, to be innovative and embrace that charge in order to be change-agents and lead,” Wente said. “This is true in terms of the work that we do, our scholarship and research, and how we educate students and offer opportunities to them. It means being bold, being able to make hard decisions, and infusing creativity in all aspects of our decision-making.”
Pace, who has committed nearly 45 years to the Allegacy Federal Credit Union, discussed her leadership style and the significance of authenticity within one’s career journey.
“The way I lead ultimately is to earn and build trust with my teams, my colleagues, and my friends by being open and valuing transparent leadership. To me, that moves into authenticity, ” Pace said. “Authenticity is the foundation of everything that I do. It is a part of who I am. I know my purpose and I know what my values are based on, so I don’t comprise that. My values also reflect my behavior.”
Pace, like the other panelists, acknowledged mentors that served as authentic leaders. One such mentor was former and longtime Allegacy CEO Ike Keener who encouraged Pace’s development by introducing roles that encouraged her to grow in her abilities.
“He was an idea guy; every day, he would be at my door with a new idea. He continued to see the value in my abilities. At the time, it was tough, but today I am so grateful,” Pace said. “He pushed me constantly out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to take over departments.”
The panel was moderated by Sherry Moss, Associate Dean for MBA Programs.
“It was such a pleasure to host this panel of dynamic and inspiring women,” Moss said. “It was truly an honor to learn from their individual perspectives and experiences, and I’m confident that many of the attendees walked away with new insights on how to practice authentic leadership.”
The Wake Forest MBA program consistently ranks among the best programs in the nation and state. The program offers a full range of MBA format offerings for working professionals, including in-person in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, online, and hybrid. Those interested in Wake Forest’s MBA program can find details and enrollment information on the MBA website.
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