Women Of The C-Suite: “Always, always be transparent about your expectations” with Michelle Tipton and Fotis Georgiadis

Always, always be clear and transparent about your expectations. Be present, listen and be open to everyone’s ideas; don’t confuse leadership with dictatorship. Hire people with diverse competencies that complement and complete yours. Coach up and delegate so that you are planning your current role’s successor and showing your team that their future matters to you. […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Always, always be clear and transparent about your expectations. Be present, listen and be open to everyone’s ideas; don’t confuse leadership with dictatorship. Hire people with diverse competencies that complement and complete yours. Coach up and delegate so that you are planning your current role’s successor and showing your team that their future matters to you.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Tipton. Tipton was named Vice President of Finance for PowerChord in 2019. In her role, Tipton oversees all financial-related matters for the company. Tipton has more than a decade of experience in the industry, serving as Financial Controller, Accountant, or HR Manager for the past 7 years at PowerChord prior to her promotion. She drives financial leadership through her passion and dedication to growth. Tipton directs financial strategies, analysis, forecasting, and budget management for PowerChord while also running all aspects of accounting and finance operations.As the Vice President of Finance, she must analyze financial reports with respect to profits, trends, cost, and compliance with budgets while also developing relationships with senior management, Board of Directors, and financial institutions to support global expansion. Tipton’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Florida.

Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My path to becoming one of the first female Vice Presidents at a tech company is not at all traditional.. But I am thankful for every opportunity, journey, and experience I have had thus far. Being the first in my family to graduate from college, that experience was the cornerstone of building my career. I had a few really great professors in Accounting early on that persuaded me to go into business. I love what I do and how I can mold my future into what I want it to look like; that makes work not feel like “work” and that’s important.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Taking our Company from a current state to an ideal, future state — scaling up. When our Company began a new phase of growth, we experienced organizational changes, welcomed new leadership and developed new equity partnerships; we had to take initiative beyond the confines of what our previous roles meant, address our weaknesses head-on, and learn to grow in a new way that still kept true to our values, culture and mission. We had to refine processes without making it difficult to get things done. I was stretched outside my comfort zone on many occasions, but I had to leave self-doubt at the door if I wanted to get results that would drive our continued success. We took what we were doing well, and made it better. Our accounting and corporate structure changed, we increased reporting and transparency, and we expanded our leadership team. The most enjoyable thing has been seeing all the changes and recognizing how an individual, a team, and our Company responds and rises to the challenges.

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?

The words just do it the “quick and easy” way stick with me, because years ago I didn’t know the quick and easy way. Things took me longer, I needed to understand before moving on, I didn’t have the ability to see the big picture and at times that meant extra reading, additional problem solving, and many late nights before I found my “quick and easy”. I laugh at it now because I’m more comfortable in what I don’t know, what I’ve learned along the way and what awaits in the horizon has now become exciting because I know with time, I can achieve it.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our commitment to people. At PowerChord we foster an environment that trusts people to do their absolute best. I think it’s driven from accountability in leadership, seeing our management in the present, and recognizing and respecting that people have family and personal commitments, and that those are important. When you show as an employer that you operate a trusting, respectful work environment, your employees will give you in return loyalty, passion and enthusiasm.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’ve had amazing opportunities to build and then transform our Accounting and Finance department. Even though we are a smaller team, we strive to be best in class. We are excited to expand technologies to continue our transformation.

We are driving the implementation of an enterprise level sales and business management platform system to be utilized across the organization. This initiative further supports our Company’s mission of building and maintaining strong customer relationships. Our employees will also benefit from enhanced transparency and quicker decision making. My team is excited and up for the use of smarter, expanded technologies. They’ll get to contribute to the Company in ways they haven’t been able to before, allowing everyone to grow and move up and become higher quality contributors.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Always, always be clear and transparent about your expectations. Be present, listen and be open to everyone’s ideas; don’t confuse leadership with dictatorship. Hire people with diverse competencies that complement and complete yours. Coach up and delegate so that you are planning your current role’s successor and showing your team that their future matters to you.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

As we expanded we moved team projects into project management software. At all times we can see what each other are working on, where the data is if someone is out and what is up next for completion. This also has given us insight on where we can pick up speed, move projects around or identify bottlenecks that we need to work on.

We also hold annual strategy sessions where everyone participates in what our department is committing to for the upcoming year by quarter. We relate these goals to the Company’s objectives and this demonstrates how every role is important to the Company’s success.

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?

First, my family. They showed tremendous support very early on and I’m thankful.

My start at PowerChord was championed by Cindy Gage. She was my first interview with the Company and saw in me what passion and dedication I could bring. Over the years she kept in touch and always showed interest and encouragement.

When I got into my career and was really green, Lori Hornby was a go-to on technical aspects. She was a sounding board and a sanity check, and then she became a champion of mine. She understood where I was at, and what I needed to hear to keep motivated and build self-confidence.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Giving back where and how I can, and making sure this remains and evolves as my opportunity to do so expands. I was able to bring the Angel Giving Tree to PowerChord in 2014, and we’ve participated in the holiday giving event every year since. It’s become a big deal in my house too. Our entire family and grandparents get involved, and I use it to teach the power of giving to my daughters. I’ve been on the other side, and I know how much relief a hand up can provide and show a path forward. I’m excited about the upcoming opportunities with PowerChord’s engagement with charities as the Humane Society of Pinellas and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Suncoast.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Hire talented people and build a great team. Each person has a level of contribution. Recognize their strengths, their weaknesses, and help them grow. Setbacks happen, for many reasons, including yourself. Move on quickly while learning what went wrong and why. You will never become your future self without a balanced approach to this.
  2. Plan and evaluate your team’s current and future needs and yours. Don’t wait for commitments to slide by before taking action.
  3. Leadership is more than just your direct reports. Have meaningful conversations with everyone in your Company. It’s insightful and can lead to unplanned opportunities and partnerships.
  4. You are ultimately responsible for your team’s work product, don’t lose touch, be willing to roll up your sleeves when needed. If your team is making mistakes, ask yourself if the right guidance, direction, and parameters were in place to allow for their success and let that determine your response.
  5. Communication is the foundation of trust. Don’t hold back truth but know your audience; be conscious of and practice emotional intelligence.

You are a person of great 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. 🙂

I believe in making higher education more affordable, if not free, and reaching out to those most unlikely to participate. Education is what changed my life. I’m lucky enough or went into a field, that has allowed me to afford the cost.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve always lived by “If you don’t like it, change it!”.This quote enabled me to invest in my own educational development, my career, and find happiness in my personal life. Always asking myself, what can I do better and what can I make better.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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 🙂

Meredith Kopit Levien, I admire the openness she expresses about her defeats, achievements and how to win at work while winning at home. On how she got to where she is, “I outworked everyone around me for a very long time.’’ The more effort you put in, the closer you will be in reaching your goals.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Netflix docuseries High On The Hog celebrates Juneteenth

This Juneteenth We Celebrate Black Excellence

by Shaunda Necole

“Perception is reality” With Candice Georgiadis & Adrianne Tipton

by Candice Georgiadis
Getty Images

Financial Infidelity and Abuse

by Jill Fopiano
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.