March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. and March 8 was International Women’s Day. Beehive is celebrating both with a month-long recognition of women leaders who inspire our team in the hopes of inspiring others.

Today, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to feature Ava Drayton, Senior Vice President, Client Solutions at Ulteig. Ava is an innovative leader who has guided global business planning for large and small organizations using her expertise in operations, marketing, sales, market expansion and business intelligence. She’s served in sales and operations leadership roles throughout the course of her career and is a change agent for women in engineering.

How does bias (deliberate or unconscious) make it difficult for women to move ahead professionally?

Existing stereotypes of women and minorities have had, and continue to have, significant impact in ways that are often not acknowledged or recognized in the workplace. Bias, whether deliberate or unconscious, begins with stereotypes based on gender or race and then manifests itself in both actions and decisions. While trying to enter career tracks that are dominated by men or non-minorities, women and minorities often don’t get the benefit of the doubt — they need to demonstrate additional accomplishments or significant results, and/or they must rely on additional references or strong sponsors to be considered. This means that, to reach the same level of success, women and minorities need to work harder and invest more to prove their value, which could include staying longer in a role, taking a more circuitous route and/or earning additional certifications or degrees.

How can women be a strong mentor or resource to other women?

First, I think it’s important to be willing to be vulnerable — own your failures and use them to build muscle and leverage them to create confidence and determination to succeed. Share these personal lessons with other women to help them navigate obstacles. Be deliberate in offering honest feedback with your women colleagues and identify development opportunities and resources that support their growth. I also think it’s critical to serve as an advocate and sponsor of other talented women — provide visibility to their strengths, capabilities and potential.

What career achievements/successes are you most proud of?

Over the course of my career, I’ve tried hard to be a role model and change agent for other black women in engineering and science by sharing the experiences derived from my own unique path. I think I’ve been able to showcase my value through the diversity of my heritage, my engineering and business education, and my technical and team leadership roles in both large and small organizations. I’d like to believe that my actions (and failures!) have inspired others to realize their own capacity for success.

We’re honored to partner with Ava and her team at Ulteig and to share her experience and advice as part of our International Women’s Day blog series.

Check back soon for our next blog post featuring Jennifer Johnson, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Prime Therapeutics.

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