Seven powerful women lead CrossCountry’s Technology and Advisory practices. In honor of their accomplishments and Women’s History Month, we asked them about leadership, their mentors, and finding balance.
This week, meet two women guiding our Workday practice for our Technology Solutions service line. Jill Jones, Partner, leads the Workday practice where she provides oversight and best practices, and ensures customer success for all Workday deployments. For the past 15 years, she has specialized in the improvement and effectiveness of her clients’ Finance, Human Capital Management (HCM) and Analytics functions. Liz Immel is a Partner in the Workday Financials practice helping customers define and achieve their strategic objectives. She has more than 20 years of progressive experience leading diverse initiatives through partnerships with IT and business organizations across multiple industries at both domestic and international organizations.
1. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
JILL JONES: For me, it is the very delicate balance between authority and likeability. If you have a strong opinion, are outspoken and confident, women are often seen as competent, but difficult to work with. If a woman has a softer approach to leadership, they are widely liked, but not taken seriously. It can be really difficult for women to find the right balance between authority and likeability as a leader.
LIZ IMMEL: I still see a couple of key factors that are barriers to female leadership. The first is the unconscious bias that exists in the workplace and prevents everyone from being fully accepted as they are and be considered for larger roles. The second is our own lack of confidence that causes us to overthink or not believe that we are “enough” and deserve the leadership role just as much as anyone else.
2. What is one lesson about leadership that you’ve learned throughout your career?
JILL JONES: You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason – use them in that proportion.
LIZ IMMEL: I’ve learned that it is important to understand what motivates your team to engage and lead them. Everyone needs something different from their leaders, so you must adapt your style accordingly.
3. Mentorship is always a key topic when talking about supporting women in business innovation. Have you had any mentors that made an impact on your career?
JILL JONES: I have been very lucky to have a number of very supportive leaders influence my career. I have one mentor that has translated roles, locations and companies. He had the confidence in me to hire me into what I considered a “stretch role” at the time. He has always taken the time to coach me through difficult decisions, help me navigate challenging situations and found ways to push me to the next level, in addition to being a great friend.
LIZ IMMEL: I’ve had several mentors that impacted me in different ways. Very early on one of my mentors was the Executive Assistant to a CEO – she took me shopping for my first interview outfit and gave me great advice on how to shift from an administrative role to a business analyst. My other mentor was a Principal at a large consulting company who took me under his wing because he saw my potential as project manager and challenged me to lead larger projects.
4. What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of female leaders?
LIZ IMMEL: We operate in a world of information overload which requires us to multitask and keeps us running at a fast pace, which can cause burn out. It is important to make time and room for self-care and mental health. By taking time for ourselves we will be more effective as leaders for others.
5. How have you balanced work and family and what is your advice for women trying to advance in an organization on balancing both?
JILL JONES: I try my best to set boundaries between my personal and professional time. This definitely has become harder over the last year, as the lines between work and life have continually been blurred. To create more balance, I look at my calendar each week and block individual time for my family, personal commitments, and workouts, trying my best to protect that time.
LIZ IMMEL: I try to set boundaries so that I can meet my personal and professional commitments (step away for practices and if I need to come back and finish deliverables, so be it). I keep everything on one calendar to manage my time effectively and I flex as needed to ensure I do not let my team or family down. My advice would be to communicate your approach/ needs with your team and leaders to create transparency, which will also set an example for others who are also trying to balance so many responsibilities.
6. For fun! Is there a completely different career path that you saw for yourself when you were a child?
JILL JONES: Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a meteorologist and report the weather on the nightly news.
LIZ IMMEL: This is not exactly a “fun” story but when I was about 5 years old, I decided I wanted to become a lawyer specializing in immigration law because I saw the struggles that my parents faced in becoming legal residents of this beautiful, wonderful country. I wanted to help others achieve that American dream.