Women learned how to advance themselves, advocate for each other at McCombs event


Haley Odom Ackerman, right, gave business advice to female audience members at the Google Fiber Space on Tuesday. Ackerman and three other women shared their paths to success at the Texas Master of Science in Technology Commercialization event.
Photo Credit: Jenan Taha | Daily Texan Staff

A panel of four local women, who are leaders at their companies, advised female professionals based on their own experiences about how to succeed in male-dominated
work environments.

The Texas Master of Science in Technology Commercialization Program, a one-year master’s program from the McCombs School of Business, and DivInc hosted the event, “40 Things Women Can Do to Get Ahead in Business and Venture,” Tuesday at the Google Fiber Space.

Mandy Reyes, Texas MSTC Program marketing director, said the event was intended to provide women with suggestions they can immediately implement to advance themselves and advocate for each other.

Each speaker presented 10 tips to the audience on how to grow professionally. 

Christy Childers is a global employer brand manager for Dropbox, an online file storage platform. Childers said underestimating the value of factual data can limit
women’s opportunities. 

“Using data to tell a story is the most powerful way to get people’s attention,” Childers said. “Your gut is almost always right, but it takes data to give you that credibility you need with others.”

Jane Claire Hervey, founder and head of operations of #bossbabesATX, a nonprofit that empowers women, said leaders must take responsibility for setting the tone for their team.

“When you’re the boss, you have to own that paper,” Hervey said. “If someone’s got a bad attitude, it might just be them, but if the whole team’s got a bad attitude, it’s probably you. Take that as a sign to engineer your attitude a bit.”

Melissa Murphy is a McCombs School of Business lecturer and founder of The Pitch Academy, a communication consulting firm that helps individuals present themselves professionally. Murphy said it’s important that women learn to say no when necessary.

“It’s important to say ‘no,’ or to say ‘yes’ for the right reasons, and even further, to quit if you have to,” Murphy said. “We have a tendency to just put so much stuff on our plates, and it will burn [us] out in the end.”

Haley Odom Ackerman is manager of legal operations for RetailMeNot, Inc., a company that provides retail discounts to customers. Ackerman said women should seek opportunities such as promotions even if they don’t meet every qualification, since statistics show men often do this.

“Women really need to be cognizant of their own qualifications and not shortchange themselves,” Ackerman said. “They should promote themselves and advocate for themselves … that will close gaps in leadership. Just go for it.”

This story has been updated since its original publication.