Female Executives Share Advice on Career Advancement & Work/Life Balance

Watch video footage taken live at Women’s Executive Forum 2022.

By About the Author

An ipad with a preview of the video on it and the words "new video"

Earlier this month, Association Forum held Women’s Executive Forum–an all-day meeting for women in association management. The meeting was a huge success, including sessions on strategy, culture and innovation. The program included the presentation of the Woman of Influence award as well as ample networking. We asked the women who attended two questions:

  1. What advice would you give to a woman just starting her career in this industry?
  2. What barriers do you face in achieving work/life balance, and how do you overcome them?

Watch the video to hear the attendees’ answers, or read the transcript below!

Video Transcript

What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career in this industry?

TJ Baskerville: Hi, I’m TJ Baskerville, assistant director for online education at RSNA. And the advice that I would give to younger women is, not to be afraid. Don’t be afraid of no, don’t be afraid of mistakes, and don’t downplay what you’re capable of. It doesn’t hurt to make mistakes because the mistakes are what make you great.

Jacqualine Price Osafo: What advice would I give a young female association executive? The first thing I would say is get a mentor. Find other folks, and this is male and females, who sit in the space that you have, who have the jobs that you may want to have one day. Just create your kitchen cabinet. And what’s in your kitchen cabinet, should be people again, who hold your job and people who hold a job you may want to have. And utilize those resources, be intentional about those relationships. Because you’ll see that you’ll need those relationships as you grow and expand in your career.

The second piece of advice that I would give a young female is, be okay being a woman. It is truly amazing. And be okay in your womanness and everything that represents your womanness. So as I stand here as a woman of color with a shaved head, because I decided to shave it, with six tattoos and a pierced nose. And I’m not saying you should go out and do all those things. But if you do all of those things, embrace the fullness of your womanness. That’s what I would tell a young female association executive. Love yourself just as you are.

Emily Harris: I’m Emily and I work for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. And I recommend for people starting out in the industry, to just get involved. You’ll build a network if you start to attend events, attend education sessions, sit in on a committee. And you just really start to learn from other people who you get to know, and build that community within the association industry, who you can start to go to for different things. And you can even establish a mentorship relationship with someone, to learn from them over time.

Madh Carson: Hi, I’m Madh Carson. I’m the business development manager for the Association of Nutrition and Service Professionals. And a piece of advice that I would give to someone who is early in their career is, there’s so many different areas of association management, that if you’re not sure which area you’re most interested in, try them. Try different areas, factors, meeting management, and membership, and marketing. And I was lucky enough to get a taste of a little bit of everything, starting my career out with an AMC. So I would definitely recommend that.

What barriers do you face in achieving work/life balance? And how do you try to overcome them?

Nicole Bradle: My biggest challenge for achieving work life balance is me, my head, being able to think that I need to get everything done at a specific point in time. If I have 10 tasks, I need to get them done. What I have to consistently remind myself is, that work is still going to be there tomorrow. My kids are there, my personal wellbeing, me going out and working out, or me taking some time, taking a walk on the block with the dog. Some of those basic things are the things that make me feel that I am fulfilled. And I have to remind myself, make an active commitment to remind myself, that that is what is going to make me a better me at work. So, that’s how I try to, I don’t do a great job, but I’m working more and more towards being a better version of me and having a balanced life.

Nikki Golden: Hi, I’m Nikki Golden. I’m a strategist with Association Laboratory. And I believe the first question I’m supposed to answer is about work life balance as a woman. And that is tough. I’m lucky enough that I work from home and I work in a remote position. So, that has been a little bit helpful of being able to get some of the activities of daily life kind of going in the background. But I think the biggest thing is just making time for yourself, which I know is really hard. But making sure, maybe you have it on the calendar, maybe your lunch is just always blocked off so that you can step away from your computer and really spend some time. Just concentrating on eating your lunch, reading a book, taking a walk around the block, taking a walk around your office, or whatever that is.

Jacqualine Price Osafo: Work life balance. When you think about work life balance as an executive director, I would say the first thing that comes to mind is that the executive director job never ends. It is a job that you can basically do for 24 hours, seven days a week, because there’s always something to do and always something to achieve. So for me, I would say sometimes the barrier is feeling guilty. Feeling guilty when I have to press pause and take care of myself, feeling guilty when I have to take care of others. And I have learned recently that feeling guilty is not healthy for me, it’s not healthy for the members that I represent, it’s definitely not healthy for my staff.

So I have to be an example to my staff by pressing pause and taking some time for myself. I have a morning routine that I do. And that means getting up, and part of that is answering emails, some emails that need my focus and consultation in the morning, and the other part is getting some exercise in, some prayer time. I love music, so I dance it out. I jam it out to some great songs, and I get on my way and start my day.

About the Author

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 3,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $10 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit www.associationforum.org for more information.

Related Articles

Member Spotlight: Ryan Frydenlund, CIMA, CIPM

Ryan has been working with association clients for more than 7 years and has wholeheartedly...


Association Forum Honors Former CEO Chris Mahaffey with Naming of Inspiring Leader Award  

The prestigious award will now be named the Chris Mahaffey Inspiring Leader Award.


Member Spotlight: Nicole Araujo, CAE

You'll never guess the names of Nicole Araujo's cats. Read her member spotlight to find...