Influential women share lessons they have learned during this challenging year

Business News | 22 Sep |

COVID-19 has been cataclysmic in many ways.

It’s changed the way we work. It’s changed the way we live. It’s changed the way we teach. It’s changed the way we do business.

Change often provides new perspective that fosters life lessons that lead to better habits and improved processes.

Az Business and AZRE magazines’ Most Influential Women of 2020 are no exception. Here are some of the lessons they have learned in 2020.

Megan Ackaert, region manager, JPMorgan Chase & Co.: “Our current situation presents challenges that I haven’t faced before. It has driven new ways of working and creative approaches to problem solving—and we’re more connected than ever through remote meeting technology. It has also taught me to be more resilient and flexible when approaching situations, which has helped me to become a stronger leader.”

Kim Dees, senior vice president and Southern Arizona division manager, WaFd Bank Arizona: “Patience is hard, but worth it. When you have a big idea, you want it to happen immediately. But allowing the idea to go through a process – development, training, deployment, success metrics, et al – gives it a better chance of being more than just a fleeting flash in the pan.”

Marchelle Franklin, director of human services, City of Phoenix: “The resilience required to stay strong in a crisis emanates from strong leaders ensuring the team knows what they do matters and has value before the crisis hits.  This allows teams to effectively navigate through the crisis while simultaneously revising goals when a crisis creates a new normal.”

Adaliz Gimenez, vice president and commercial banker, Bell Bank: “This last year had so many great teaching moments that it is really hard to pick one
specific thing. I have been reminded of the importance of relationships. Of how much we can achieve when we push and pull each other up. That sharing our fire with others can never extinguish
or diminish our own flame. In fact, it
will rekindle and renew our own.”

Katie Haydon Perry, executive vice president, Haydon Building Corp.: “The COVID-19 crisis reaffirmed this for me: A strong team can get you through anything. As the leader of the organization, it’s your responsibility to keep the business moving forward and to have the strength to make the tough decisions.”

Andrea Lovell, shareholder, Littler: “Resilience.  In the face of unpredictability and change, I have learned to adapt to the unexpected.
Even court hearings and client meetings can be handled gracefully over Zoom while self-quarantining — and homeschooling.”

Regina Romero, mayor, City of Tucson: “I am repeatedly reminded of this, especially over the last year: follow your inner voice when something feels off or spot on. Be bold and act courageously. If you miss the mark, acknowledge it, get up and continue to move forward. Build a team that believes in a cause and effecting change. Together, you can move mountains.”

Debbie Shumway, CEO, Hospice of the Valley: “I have learned that constant and consistent communication is vital to understanding employee needs – especially when facing new uncertainties as we are now. I value each employee’s perspective and use that knowledge to grow and support our mission.”

Kim Soule, senior vice president, Colliers: “Always take that extra step. My banking background enabled me early information about the Paycheck Protection Program. I sent information to my clients, providing them a running start on the program. As it turned out, this was valuable because most of my clients were approved for the original funding.”

Carla Vargas Jasa, president and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way: “Listening to learn, being transparent, and communicating clearly during the steady and not so steady times builds trust. When disruption inevitably strikes, as it has with COVID-19, it enables you to pivot nimbly, take some risks and to ask partners, supporters and staff to take dramatic, and sometimes uncomfortable, steps with you.”

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