"If you can see it, you can be it," Lisa Walsh, senior vice president of PepsiCo sales, PepsiCo Inc., declared during "Courageous Leadership," the Innovation You webinar, May 20, 2015.
Walsh, who serves as NEW chair of marketing and communications, urged NEW members to find inspiration in the industry's women leaders. "When you think about women being leaders, or about women being courageous, we're not often thought of in that realm in society," Walsh told the 80 professionals participating in the webinar live. Women can go from "ordinary to extraordinary" with a realignment of thinking.
Walsh shared her own experiences with gender stereotyping, including her reaction when daughter wanted to be a Star Wars stormtrooper for Halloween, just like her brother. After realizing she had been unconsciously placing gender stereotypes on her daughter, Walsh encouraged her to "be the best stormtrooper she could be."
To advance your career, don't shy away from feedback, Walsh advised. "When you have an opinion, it's important to internalize others' points of view. That helps you achieve higher roles." A courageous leader, she said, finds nothing wrong with asking, "Hey, what did you think of everything you heard?"
Don't try faking your way through an answer, Walsh cautioned, something "people can smell a mile away. You can't know everything and as you go higher, you become more of a generalist. Saying 'I don't know' is okay."
Be accountable, she advised. "When things go wrong, be ready to raise your hand and say, 'I had a part in that.'"
It's important to recognize and give credit, too. "You can do it in a big meeting, you can do it with a handwritten note," said Walsh, who also recommends giving gift cards or a day off for a job well done. "A personal acknowledgment is a great re-energizer."
Be courageous in your example, including the one you set for children. "When it's 'take your daughter to work day,' I take my son, too," Walsh said. "Gender should be a neutral topic."