I think back on when I started GDA Speakers almost 25 ago, and the important women in my career who encouraged and inspired me to leave my 20 year corporate event career at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and embark on my entrepreneurial journey. My mentor for many years, Vicki Yacovoni, was my role model. Her leadership style, particularly in a male dominated environment, was beyond impressive. She didn't manage me, she led me - providing me feedback and the confidence to take on new challenges.
Vicki made sacrifices and proved that hard work truly is the pathway to success. She was passionate about her work and possessed a quiet strength that was respected by everyone. She continued to lead a courageously inspiring life, until leukemia took her life at 49 years old.
I feel fortunate for my time spent with Vicki. She was not only my mentor, she was also a dear friend. Vicki helped shape the leader I am today. She taught me to lead with passion, take on new challenges, and learn from failure and setbacks. I am so proud of the resilience, grit, and ingenuity of our all female GDA team that helps us be innovative and make each event unforgettable for our clients.
Among other influential women in my career was Mary Charles, the legendary founder of MCA in Hawaii, and Jo Kling, co-founder of Landry & Kling. These two strong women taught me so much invaluable information and lessons about the event industry in my formative years at EDS.
As president and founder, I continuously try to tap into the many lessons I have learned in business and share them with my team. I want them to gain as much knowledge about business as they have about speakers. This is what will set them up to have a seat at the table and help them make a difference in the workplace as strong women.
I am grateful for all the strong female pioneers and role models who have taken risks, fought off failure, insults or stereotypes and continue to overcome obstacles. I am honored I had the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and can now pass that on to other women. I appreciate each of you supporting and celebrating the ongoing incredible work of women.