Navigating and Negotiating for Women in Business

As female undergraduate students, it may be hard to envision yourself as a woman in business, at least at the moment. Events like Richmond Women in Business are crucial in helping give young women ideas as to what they could be. Panels of strong women and leaders are perfect platforms for students to learn how to navigate and negotiate in the “real world”.

On November 9th, a panel of three strong women, Kim Adams, Tessa Anderson, and Starlette Johnson plus John Ashbury, led the discussion. Topics ranged from how they have evolved to first starting in their careers to the best advice they could give to young aspiring women in business

As college students, any advice is appreciated, especially when it’s from leaders in the field. Changing is inevitable throughout your career. Even with internships, you can see how much you change in just one summer or semester. But what about how you will evolve once you’re in your career?

“It is a constant evolution with every step of your career,” stated Johnson. Anderson echoed this advice, saying that she has taken on more responsibility as her career has progressed and now presents the best version of herself.

Certain pieces of advice will likely stick with you throughout your career. Maybe certain pieces of advice already follow you around. One of the most unique pieces of advice the panel gave came from Adams.

“Eat the live frog,” said Adams. “It means that when you’re thinking about something that makes you anxious or nervous, and you eat the live frog in the morning, that is the worst thing that is going to happen to you that day.”

When thinking about your future career, there might be some unspoken themes prevalent in the workforce. Johnson commented on how women work against each other or try to do everything on their own.

“Women have to remember we are on one team and all have different positions to play,” she pointed out.

When women work together, powerful things can come about. Having someone to advocate for you, especially when you are new to a job or career, is so valuable.

“As people in the company come in, they are probably a little bit nervous and don’t feel qualified,” said Anderson. “It is important, as somebody more senior, to announce that person and give them the value that maybe they don’t see in themselves.”

One key theme throughout the discussion was serve as an advocate for yourself and care about where your career is going. Ashbury left the audience with advice to think about.

“My boss told me, ‘It is not my job to define your career path, John, it’s your job,’” said Ashbury. “And he was right, it is my job.”

Panel discussions like the Richmond Women in Business can leave you thinking about your own career and where you see yourself. For me, I was left thinking about how I can keep learning, even after graduation. After an hour of insights and advice from leaders in the field,  I definitely walked away with this piece of advice that will stick to me for the future.