104 minutes | Sep 19th 2019

Taking Your Seat at the Table: Strategies for Reaching the C-Suite as a Woman [Episode 12]

The discussion was intended to distill the key lessons each woman learned from their respective rise to seniority, and their advice for future generations of female leaders. This episode features full audio from the event and a distillation of the wisdom and key insights from all of our guests. 


Key Links and Info for our Guests

  • Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Pfizer, Sally Susman’s business bio || LinkedIn profile.
  • Head of Corporate Communications at Citi, Jennifer Lowney’s LinkedIn profile || Her Twitter page.
  • EVP Corporate Communications at Scholastic, Stephanie Smirnov’s LinkedIn profile || Her Twitter page.
  • Global Executive Director, Communications at Merck, Joanna Breitstein’s LinkedIn profile
  • Former Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Kym White’s LinkedIn profile
  • Director of External Communications and Customer Success, Pernod Ricard USA at Pernod Ricard, Taylor Foxman’s LinkedIn profile.
  • [The roundtable was moderated by] The Former Chief Digital Officer of Bayer, Jessica Federer and The CEO of Lippe Taylor, Maureen Lippe


The discussion was intended to distill the key lessons each woman learned from their respective rise to seniority, and their advice for future generations of female leaders. Below are our key takeaways from the evening.


Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t wait for an invitation. As Sally Susman shares, getting ahead in male-dominated fields means you invite yourself to events. Or in other words, you can learn to play golf just like Sally did. She learned that by playing golf, she wouldn’t be left behind or excluded. By being proactive and not backing off by an inch, Sally ensured her inclusion in the company. 
  • Have an analytical approach to inclusion and for fighting bias. Jennifer Lowney of Citi accentuated the importance of leaning on data as a concrete tool for staving off unconscious gender bias. Citi does this through a hired third-party analyst who measures trends in real time to report any instances of unconscious bias in talent acquisition spheres or internal operations.
  • There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’...and that’s just fine. As Kym White says, women often find themselves deflecting the credit that would drive professional advancement instead of accepting it. This is often done by giving credit to the team instead of individually claiming ownership. True credit gets lost within the team (or applied to men) when women are encouraged not to take credit for their actions.
  • Find accomplices not allies, sponsors not mentors. As Stephanie Smirnov puts it, sponsors can be crucial for your development as a professional. A sponsor will coach you and push you farther than a mentor. And when differentiating between an ally and an accomplice: an ally will fight with you, but an accomplice will fight for you because they are inextricably dedicated to your professional development. Find yourself an accomplice!
  • During a crisis, focus on unity and not division. Joanna Breitstein used the #MeToo Movement to illustrate how companies can come together and focus on organizational openness and communication on important issues, instead of functioning in a tight-lipped, reactionary mode.
  • There’s a difference between speaking up and being heard. Taylor Foxman says that she has learned to be in as many meetings as possible, to formulate her thoughts carefully, and only speak when she has something insightful to say. This emphasis on coherency and tactfulness means that all present at those meetings equate her voice to thoughtfulness and truly listen every time she speaks.



Damn Good Brands is brought to you by Lippe Taylor, a Public Relations and Digital Marketing agency committed to telling riveting stories that move brands forward.

The host for this episode was Nick Taylor, Innovation Technology Officer for Lippe Taylor

This podcast is a production of Evo Terra & the team at Simpler Media Productions.

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