In honor of International Women’s Month, we asked our CEO, Laurie Oswald, what it means for her to be a leader in the workforce and entrepreneur – empowering women (and men!) all around the world! Take a few minutes to read our interview below:
What does it mean to you as a women-owned business?
“I am very proud of this designation. We are in the minority as a women-owned business which makes our accomplishments that much more gratifying and unique. Women are underrepresented in the entrepreneurial world including start-ups, ownership, venture capital, M&A, access to capital, and especially in the B2B world serving corporations. Hopefully, we are a model for others, including our own team.”
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman? Or even a woman who owns her own business?
“My educational path and corporate career were very male-dominated. There is a level of strength and resilience that comes from being an outsider and doing something that has never been done as the “first woman” to get into that program or get that role. As women, we have to create our own network of support. The network is not as robust as it is for men. And as in many other aspects of our society and culture, we have to rise to even higher levels to get a shot most times. I love a challenge but sometimes, it can be discouraging. I have had the support of some men along the way who treated me as absolute equals and gave me opportunities to take on more responsibility. In several cases, I now see how they really stepped up and out in doing so.”
Why was it important to you to be a WBENC-certified business?
“To be officially certified requires we meet the ownership criteria but there are many more aspects that are quite stringent. We have to demonstrate stability, history, growth, resources, processes, stewardship, and purpose as part of the process.”
Are there any women in leadership who inspire you?
“I am very inspired by Rose Marcario, the ex-CEO of Patagonia. She led the company to increase profitability, improved fair sourcing and the overall supply chain, created a people-first culture, invested in support for working families, and insured their products kept evolving to get better and better as if they weren’t good enough already. She also demonstrated the possibilities for private businesses to advocate for and participate in solving our world’s most pressing problems.”
Are there any women leaders whose work you are watching at the moment and why?
“Beth Ford, the first Fortune 500 CEO member of the LGBTQI community at Land O’ Lakes, a manufacturing company no less, and Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, the first female top leader of an automaker. Their career paths and accomplishments are staggering and what they are doing to demonstrate doing business in new ways from culture work to innovation is incredible. And best of all, they are very human and lead with heart.”
What are you most thankful for? What are 3 important achievements you have overcome?
“I am thankful for the opportunities I have to live, love, and learn every day. Taking risks, bouncing back, and balancing all aspects of my life along the way as best I could have been the most rewarding.”
How are you giving back to women coming up through the ranks today?
“I really enjoy coaching and supporting other women business owners and executives to not only succeed but also thrive in their lives and really take in their accomplishments and success. I’d like to devote more time in the years to come advancing young women in business.”
What is inspiring to you about the work you are doing today?
“We are transforming how professionals and leaders imagine, learn and achieve what’s possible at work and in their lives. As a result, they expand and their results soar. The possibilities are unlimited when people have systems that work for them and are empowered.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“In celebration of International Women’s Month, I hope that the trend of more women in the C-suite, in business ownership, in capital, in STEM careers, and in all underrepresented areas continues to grow. There is no doubt that for a healthy society, diversity is key. Continuing to expect women to rise up in these areas and to also juggle family responsibilities without innovation in childcare, healthcare, education, and financial infrastructure is not practical. I hope we evolve as a society and improve these barriers for more women and other minority groups to excel.”
Interviewee – Laurie Oswald, Chief Executive Officer, InteraWorks
InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals, teams including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent and energy to produce results that matter most.
We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.