Mid-Atlantic panel: 'Be connected to break barriers'
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
Andre Medina of EMD
Sales Inc., Veronica Cool of Cool & Associates and EMD teammates Angelica
Colon and Omar Molina at the NEW Mid-Atlantic event. See photo album.
"Know that the
person who promoted you trusts you," Meg Ham, president of Food Lion, told
more than 100 professionals at the NEW Mid-Atlantic learning event, Dec. 2,
2015 at the College Park Marriott in Hyattsville, Md. "Say to yourself, 'I
have strengths. That is why they hired me.'"
Ham joined Sue Klug,
chief marketing officer at Unified Grocers, and Subriana Pierce, managing
partner at Navigator Sales and Marketing, for the panel discussion
"Breaking through Barriers." Judy Spires, president and CEO of Kings
Super Markets, moderated the event.
Pierce was asked if
being a woman of color posed particular barriers to success. Pierce notes that
being the first African American in a position "carries a weight to help
others in the future," motivating her to "make it easier for the next
Klug, whose 17-year-old
daughter has cystic fibrosis, fought for proper medical attention when doctors
failed to step up for her child's best interests. "They had forgotten
about the patient," Klug reminded them. She urged listeners to "fight
hard and figure out who can help with the fight. It is okay to ask for help;
always come from a point of being positive."
Solutions, not barriers
Ham doesn't feel she has
barriers, only problems she "hasn't solved yet." When she started as
a 23-year-old store manager, her supervisor didn't think she had anything to
offer in a traditionally "male" role. Meg learned that to get the
best out of people she needed to connect with supervisor "Joe” -- and
appreciate what he brought to the table.
Spires recommends being
authentic with who you are and your intentions. "When you are really clear
and honest with yourself others will want to help," Spires advises.
"Focus on the competition instead of competing with each other.
Authenticity breaks down barriers without trying."
"Figure out how to
connect with people one-on-one," says Pierce. "Bring 'me' to
The panelists agreed
that being connected includes being heard.
Ham recommends going to
the cafeteria at least three times a week, and forming relationships. "You
need to socialize… once you break the ice it allows for a lot more to come
through. If you don’t speak and have those relationships start saying
Klug noted the
importance of the meetings before the meetings. "Be smart. Do the
pre-work. Where you sit is important. No one will tell you to move. Have the
facts." Also, "Say something within the first 5 minutes."
Attitude can make or
break your professional impact.
"We tend to focus
on the negative," Pierce cautions. "Turn the tide -- always start positively.
Exude your confidence and skill set."
"Care about people
and make them accountable," said Ham. "It is easier when you care
Feedback is essential.
"Lean into your own strengths and be really open to asking others for help
and feedback," Ham urged attendees. " When you can do that you will
get great feedback."
Klug recommends leaning
on mentors for advice. "Ask them, 'Please give me three things that I can
do better.' Ask, 'How can I improve?'" Klug added that the key to getting
a sponsor is performance. "Get the job done. You have to perform."