Encourage Growth — Allow team members to take on a new task or project that they do not have experience with. Allow them to gain more knowledge by being hands on in a new space.
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Maggiore.
Kelly Maggiore is a senior manager at Impact Advisors, one of the country’s leading healthcare consulting firms, and a Project Management Institute-certified Project Management Professional with more than five years of experience delivering large-scale IT implementations and subject matter expertise in workflow redesign/optimization. She excels at liaising between clinical, business and technical areas to achieve project success. She has a proven ability to lead, manage, and exceed customer expectations and deliver next-generation technical solutions to improve patient care and enhance workplace productivity.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After a semester at college pursuing a degree I did not think I wanted to continue with, my uncle mentioned industrial engineering (IE) and the need for more industrial engineers in the workforce. I researched the field and loved that industrial engineering focuses on process improvement. The education spanned across all engineering fields (mechanical, electrical, civil, and chemical). I discovered that my college had an IE program and went to my academic advisor to change my major. Now two of my female cousins and sister-in-law are industrial engineers too!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Being from New Orleans, we do not deal a lot with snow. I was on-site in Massachusetts for an important all-day meeting with key stakeholders and vendor representatives that also flew in when a huge snowstorm arrived. The big meeting was now being held over a conference line with all key parties in their respective hotel rooms or homes. The meeting wound up being successful, but my flight home also got cancelled with no option to rebook. I was there for the weekend. Needless to say, I stayed at the client site hotel and found the “Top Things to Do” in that city and wound up enjoying some hikes and sightseeing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One day while working as an industrial engineer at a shipyard, I was doing a progress audit on some pipe work on the ship, checking my clipboard notes, and my leg fell through a hole on the ship. I went to the medical office, got bandaged up and of course got called out in our team meeting as the “injury of the day.” I no longer multi-task as a result. Multi-tasking was very much something I bragged about as one of my strengths on every interview I had out of college but now I would boast that I no longer multi-task. I can now focus on the most important task and get it done, e.g., not falling into a hole on the ship.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The culture at Impact Advisors is like no other. I mean, we have a Happyologist that makes sure everyone is happy (of course) with check-ins and fun company-wide events. The communication with all employees is frequent so you get a sense being part of the larger team even though you may work with a smaller group at the client site.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am currently working on archiving various old electronic medical record systems into one location. This will allow physicians to see historical patient records from the various clinics and hospitals that have visits across the hospital system.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
I would say no, I am not happy with the status quo. I have always had male bosses, and they have been great and have become mentors, but I think we need more women bosses in IT. It has been great to see women CIOs, IT directors and managers in the healthcare setting but we need to see more in other sectors as well.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
We aren’t growing up with a STEM mindset like many boys are. Overall gender norms placed on girls and the toys that are marketed for us do not encourage STEM. We aren’t targeted by advertisers for building blocks or kinetic toys or spaceships; we are targeted for barbies and baby dolls. It is up to the parents or schools to make sure girls are introduced to STEM at a young age.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
The myth that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist. It does exist but it is hard to define since talking about salaries has been seen as taboo and there is no transparency in organizations with salaries. Companies need to take a good hard look at the pay they are offering and do the due diligence to ensure that women with equal experience or in the same role are getting paid the same as their male counterparts.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Allow team members to take on a new task or project that they do not have experience with. Allow them to gain more knowledge by being hands on in a new space.
Boost Self Esteem
- Allow team members to try things out and make mistakes before you knock down an idea. Most people learn by doing.
Implement the Awkward Pause
- I learned about the 10 second pause in a “How to Facilitate Meetings” training. This is where you ask a question during a meeting and wait 10 seconds before speaking again. Usually, attendees will start to feel awkward at the five-second mark and answer the question. This is really helpful on conference calls.
- I like to give my analysts tasks or small projects with a set deadline. I then follow up on the deadline, not before. I believe people in general want to hit their targets and need some space to do so.
Stay Human/Keep it Fun
- It doesn’t have to be work all the time. Get to know your team on a personal level, laugh and have fun during meetings.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Allow and encourage your team to think creatively and make mistakes. Try not to block a proposed solution even if you know it has the potential to fail. Allow that person to try and fail (or succeed) on their own.
What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
It is key to speak with the team as a whole while also focusing on the individuals. Having one-on-one meetings will help you get a better idea of how an individual is doing and is beneficial to team members that do not like speaking up in a large group setting.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A female colleague of mine left our industry at the time (ship building) for healthcare. A few months later she mentioned an opening at her new employer, and I jumped at the opportunity without any knowledge of healthcare. I thank her for introducing me to this field that I have been in for over 10 years now. Along the way I have also developed mentors who were former bosses and have sought their advice for next steps in my career. They have been instrumental in the path my career has taken.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try my best to pass on lessons I have learned from younger colleagues, but also expand their technical knowledge as we work together. If I have an analyst on a project, they will know everything I know and I will give them ownership of certain pieces of the project so they can grow in that role.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Aside from world peace and conserving the Earth’s resources, I think most people would benefit from learning basic finances in school. Why aren’t we taught about this? We learn about working for money with allowances, buyer’s remorse when we spend that money and a bit about savings. But once we have a career, what is a 401K? How do I make a budget? What are stocks and bonds? What is compound interest? Where should I save my money? How can I spend less? Having financial lessons through a school career would better prepare children for the real world once they leave home.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Sometimes organizations can go into analysis paralysis or have so much red tape it is difficult to get anything accomplished. If I know I can implement a change or make a decision that can be later undone to keep a project moving, I will do it without hesitation.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I feel like I am supposed to say someone in STEM here, but I would say Maya Rudolph. That would be one hilarious lunch and she could probably do impressions of many other influential people.