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ACGWomen: Power, Credibility, and the Path to the C-Suite

Advancing Women to the Next Level

Recap by Juliellen DeLuca, Delaware Trust

Never stop learning. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And find the right place.

Highly accomplished women tell us how they advanced to where they are today, and the important, heartfelt lessons learned along the way. 

Meet the experts

  • Patricia Evans Schulze, managing director, Global Capital Markets, Wilmington Trust
  • Anne Vazquez, partner, NewSpring Capital
  • Shelley Boyce, executive chairman and founder, MedRisk

Each started along one path that morphed into new, more promising opportunities. By paying close attention to what was right for them, and where they wanted to be, they created a foundation for themselves to land in the right place. 

Tip: Advocate for yourself

  • When you’re doing well, let it be known. This isn’t bragging when you’re surrounded by the right people.
  • Don’t assume people know what you want, talk about it.

Pat Evans Schulze joined Wilmington Trust 38 years ago, right out of high school, and she was determined to set herself up for success. With the bank’s support, Evans Schultz made the decision to slow down her career during her children’s youth. Later, she returned to school while working full time, and made extensive connections in the industry by volunteering, networking, joining committees, and surrounding herself with the right people—advocates and sponsors both within her firm and outside. Pat passionately recalls climbing the ladder to managing director, “even if you don’t feel confident, keep persevering and never stop learning.” 

Tip: Embrace challenges

  • It’s ok to be emotional. Just make sure your emotions are being received accurately. Remember, be mad when you’re mad, without the tears that could send the wrong message. When the tears do show, explain that they’re from extreme frustration (or anger) so as not to mislead your audience to believe your feelings were hurt.
  • Mistakes happen. Everyday.
  • Be confident enough to learn what you don’t know, and never stop learning.
  • Always be prepared.
  • Face fears head on.  

Anne Vazquez, a partner with NewSpring Capital, received excellent advice early on and studied accounting in school, believing it would guarantee a broad range of possibilities, and it has done just that. Vazquez launched herself into her industry, joining KPMG, exposing herself to the industry. She left the firm to join another, but when that Philadelphia office unexpectedly closed, Anne made “a bold move to leverage my skills in new ways” and joined NewSpring Capital where she quickly deduced that private equity offered the most interesting accounting opportunity, in her opinion. Vazquez found herself in somewhat of a boy’s club but also recognized that she was “ok with being a girl in a boys’ business.” With time and experience she realized, “I don’t need to be one of the guys” and 12 years later is highly regarded in her field.

Tip: Be confident

  • Have confidence in yourself.
  • Be open to constructive criticism.
  • When you want something, go get it.
  • Be 100% present wherever you are.
  • Find your balance. At work and at home, but also with your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Find valuable life hacks.
  • And remember, as you are trying to balance everything, if you don’t like how your husband folds the laundry, get over it—he’s folding it!

Shelley Boyce, executive chairmanof MedRisk, started her career as a nurse, but within her first year recognized she “wasn’t a very good nurse” and decided to use her experience and knowledge to get into medical device sales, only to learn that wasn’t the right direction either. Boyce decided to pursue an MBA, and during her studies, submitted what she thought to be an excellent business plan to her professors. Feeling terribly rejected and discouraged after receiving a passing-grade only, Boyce decided to start her own company. And 25 years later, she understands the risks and rewards of being her own boss. MedRisk has $500M in revenue, and the reputable Carlyle Group is a majority owner. Boyce was not afraid to make changes when she wasn’t satisfied; she welcomed the challenges until she reached her goal. 

Through fear, lack of confidence, but knowledge—and at times rejection, loneliness, uncertainty, and change, each one of these women persevered. Do not hesitate to change direction, but have a plan of action. Keep these nuggets of wisdom close by as you continue on your own path.

Tip: Set expectations and expect change

  • Perfection is overrated and often unachievable. Be a work in progress.
  • Find a balance and support—both in the work place and outside so you can give 100% in every moment.
  • Be ok with change, especially change within yourself. Sometimes tomorrow is more important than the next 20 years or even next week. Keep moving towards the next level of you.

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