By Aleasha Vuncannon
“Have a game plan. If you don’t, you are working from someone else’s plan,” Ashley Skyrme (MBA ’99), managing director of Accenture shared with 50 female students from Wake Forest School of Business during the Women’s Leadership Forum Oct. 4.
Skyrme was joined by Walmart Executive Vice President of Special Projects Marybeth T. Hays (BA ’90, MBA ’94), CRH Healthcare CFO and Co-Founder Andrea Malik Roe (BS ’99), and Goldman, Sachs & Co. Managing Director Susan M. Benz for a panel discussion on leadership.
Benz moderated the panel where the female members of the School’s Board of Visitors shared pearls of wisdom on success, superpowers and the importance of work-life balance during a luncheon in the Bern Beatty Colloquium.
Drawing from her successful career at Walmart, Marybeth T. Hays emphasized the importance of maintaining a balance in both work and life. She described it in terms of three circles. “The circles are your life. Career goes in one circle, then you have family, and the third circle is personal passion – things that make you unique. At any given point in your life, you can do two of the three circles well. If you attempt to do three, you will wear yourself out and you won’t perform well. So choose. We can’t be everything to everybody,” she advised.
Skyrme also shared that choosing the right pace for life’s many races was key. It is something the Accenture executive wished someone had told her when she was learning to balance her career and family. “I learned to pace myself. I paced myself so much I realized I had to sprint again. Now, I do both. I figure out when it’s time to roll up our sleeves and put on our shoes to race, or when it’s OK to take a bigger view,” she explained.
For Andrea Malik Roe, she learned early in her career the importance of building positive relationships. “People remember how you make them feel, not what you did. Work hard, fit in, and remember the people who are managing you today are going to be your references later,” said the CRH Healthcare co-founder.
Panel moderator Suzanne Benz said a comment from her son, a 2017 graduate from the Wake Forest School of Business, put things into perspective when she was preparing for a presentation. “I told him presenting was outside of my comfort zone. He said ‘But you’re so old. You know it.’ You have to learn to own it. What other superpowers can I draw on? It’s the challenge, the excitement, and risk that makes it rewarding,” emphasized the Goldman, Sachs & Co. executive.
Following the panel discussion, the women joined other Wake Forest alumnae and Board of Visitor members for a networking lunch with students from the School. Students had the opportunity to ask questions, expand on the conversation, and build relationships with the female leaders.
Aleasha Vuncannon is a freelance writer and public relations professional based in Asheboro, N.C.