Simmons Leadership Blog

Search consultant Jane Edison Stevenson on how women can be more powerful

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Jane Edison Stevenson, vice chairman, Board and CEO at Korn/Ferry International's Atlanta office, is one of the most influential search consultants in the world.

She reflects on the women leader she most admires, and offers tips on how woman can become more powerful in their careers.
What woman in business - current or former - do you most admire? What has she taught you?

Margaret Thatcher. I have always admired her courage, how she made her strategic vision a reality, and her ability to be tough, strong, and still a woman with a strong marriage and children. She taught me about the power of a vision, and what courage of conviction can mean to a country and to the world.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the opportunity to work with world leaders on their talent initiatives and to be a strategic advisor who can help them achieve great things.  I also feel honored to have a voice on corporate governance, CEO succession and innovation in the workplace. These are important issues, and I have passion for how they can positively change the world.

What's the best piece of career advice you've gotten along the way?

My father, John Edison, taught me two things that have shaped my life and career:  one, life is a series of trade-offs, so make sure you always know what you have traded for what you are getting, and two, happiness is a decision.

Why do you think women still have not attained more leadership positions in all industries/careers?

Because to achieve it, you have to see it, feel it, and believe it.  Most women are what I call "unentitled".  Most men are "very entitled".  Until women see ourselves as powerful, valuable, and highly competent as leaders, we will primarily support men, and continue to feel frustrated that we are "doing most of the work," but are not confident enough take the power and run with it.

How do you think women can support other women on their path to success?

By forming supportive relationships that help to further mutual causes, and to penetrate the glass ceiling.

Jane Edison Stevenson is speaking at the 2012 Simmons Leadership Conference, the premier professional event for women, on April 5 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. You can follow the conference live on Twitter @SimmonsConf and #SLC12.

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