Transitioning from the Classroom to the Workforce: 12 Insights from DFW’s Top Female Business Leaders

Transitioning from the Classroom to the Workforce: 12 Insights from DFW’s Top Female Business Leaders

From finance and law to real estate and retail, four of DFW’s top female leaders gathered to share career advice with the University of Dallas business community.

Whether you are a college freshman, or have been working for several years, the leaders shared indispensable insights built on decades of their personal experiences navigating the corporate climate.

12 Insights From DFW’s Top Female Leaders:

  1. Find a workplace that matches your values. Just like selecting a college, each workplace has unique offerings and opportunities; there isn’t a one size fits all, so see what works for you.
  2. Create value by being a good listener. Too often we find ourselves preoccupied with what we want to say, rather than what we can learn by listening.
  3. Find someone you respect and emulate them. Everything from work attire to work habits, seek out those who excel in their careers and use them as a model for your professional development.  
  4. Ask others for feedback. We’re often unaware of the areas we need improvement in (or even the areas we excel in). Teachers, friends, mentors and peers can all provide unique insight into your strengths and weaknesses… so ask.
  5. Be reliable and indispensable, especially early in your career. Establish a personal brand built around good work habits and reliability. Don’t be afraid to take on new projects and give yourself a chance to shine.
  6. Networking doesn’t have to be formal, but it should be strategic. Any conversation can be a networking opportunity. Use platforms like LinkedIn to find people in particular organizations that you can talk to, or talk to friends and coworkers.
  7. Bring your genuine self to work–people can sense when you’re not being your true self. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, analytical or intuitive, outgoing or reserved, you bring unique skills and contributions to the table.
  8. Don’t just spot a problem, propose a solution. Anyone can see when something is broken, but true leaders identify ways to solve problems rather than just point out what’s wrong.
  9. Take a presentation skills course. Whether in class, or through a formal organization, such as Toastmasters, find an opportunity to develop presentation and communication skills.
  10. Be attuned to diversity and inclusion. Have an awareness of certain actions or environments that might be exclusive to others and seek out organizations that are championing positive cultures though resources like The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
  11. Own your mistakes. We all make them, but how we bounce back and learn from our mistakes is crucial to professional growth. Be forgiving of failures in yourself and, just as important, be forgiving of mistakes by others.
  12. Treat everyone with respect. The Golden Rule isn’t just the right thing to do, it may also impact your career; after all, you never know who’s voice might have influence in your organization.


The Spring 2018 Women in Business Leadership panelists:

Mary Manning,
Senior Vice President
SBC/ATT (retired)

Atoy Strawder
Director of Financial Planning & Analysis
McKesson Financial Center

Yvonne Freeman
Vice President Total Rewards – HR
Michael Stores

Alesia Coffman Turner
Senior Vice President, Institutional & Private Client Advisor
U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management

Panel moderator:
Felicia Johnson, Founder & Managing Director
Gatson Group, LLC.

Learn more about leadership from other University of Dallas alumni.

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