Beth Phalen: Women I Admire

February 11, 2016

Beth Phalen

Don't miss Beth Phalen at the Simmons Leadership Conference!

Beth Phalen, senior vice president at EMC Corporation, leads Data Protection & Availability Solutions within the Core Technology Division.

Which female leader do you most admire? In what way has she driven change?

It’s not a woman, but the group of women who fought for the right to vote. If they hadn’t had the fortitude to drive for change, the U.S. and the world would be a very different place today. They were incredibly courageous to stand up to the power structure and insist that women needed to be represented. Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe and Susan B. Anthony are inspiring examples. They didn’t give up; they kept working at it for their entire lives.

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

The best advice was a while ago and was basically, “Stop putting yourself down.” The message was: “Your strengths speak for themselves. Don’t limit your positive impact by discrediting yourself or minimizing your point of view.” It helped me realize that I can make a contribution and I’m really not helping anyone by not projecting confidence. Once I got past this, I became more and more skilled at having a positive impact.

What major issue or current event do you think women should really focus on to effect change?

I like the goal to increase the percentage of women on boards. When women have a sufficient presence at that level of decision-making, we will begin to see the full positive impact of gender diversity.

If you could dine with anyone, past or present, with whom would you dine and what would you like to ask him or her?

I’ll go back to my first answer and say the group of women who were at Seneca Falls in 1848. It would be so interesting to hear what they were thinking and hoping for at that first women’s rights convention. How did they see the future? What were their lives like and what advice would they have for speaking up even when your opinion is distinctly different from the general population? How did they make progress?