- How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Being a psychology major has influenced who I am as a leader, and how I manage my team at DentalPlans.com – it has taught me that there’s no one size fits all management style. There are a variety of management and communication techniques that complement different people in different ways, in both personal and work relationships. Becoming a parent and learning how to communicate with yet another type of person – a child – has also been crucial to my development as a leader and continues to help me identify with people who work best under different management styles.
- How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
Before joining DentalPlans.com, I worked for a .com startup which drove home the importance of being nimble – something I apply every day in my current role. DentalPlans.com operates like a startup in the sense that everyone is very entrepreneurial and given a lot of autonomy. Testing and learning in an online environment is something I learned from my previous role, but has also become a crucial part of how my team and I operate on a daily basis today. We’re not afraid to make mistakes – we embrace the bumps along the way and learn from our mishaps.
- What have the highlights and challenges been during your current role?
DentalPlans.com has experienced year over year growth since inception. Our success has been supported by acquisitions, and the companies that have acquired us really value what we do – helping people lead happier, healthier lives one smile at a time – as well as the value creation we provide for their stakeholders.
With that success, of course, came challenges – we experienced ‘growing pains’, so to speak, but have always overcome the change and transitions that felt like hurdles at the time. And, I can say with confidence that we’ve always come out stronger because of it, and found ourselves on a fresh, new track.
- What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
My advice to other women in the health industry – or really any industry – especially those who have families, is to understand that sacrifices will have to be made, whether personal or professional. And that’s okay! It’s also completely normal to feel conflicted when faced with decisions between a personal and work commitment. As a parent of three, my goal is to try to make sacrifices with minimal or no regret – something I encourage all female business leaders to aim for. It has helped me pick and choose where to make sacrifices time and time again. And, it ensures that I’m thinking bigger picture both personally and professionally.
- What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Over the years I’ve learned to lead with the understanding that it’s okay to make mistakes. Making mistakes is an important part of learning. This overarching philosophy has helped me to inspire people to create, innovate and move quickly. If team members feel that it’s okay to take risks, they are more likely to discover new solutions that drive our business forward. “Try, fail, learn” is my motto, and it’s really ingrained in our culture at DentalPlans.com.
- How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I maintain a work life balance by reminding myself that it’s okay to make sacrifices and accepting that the decisions I make between work and personal life are not always easy. Something that helps me maintain a balance, is to look at each circumstance individually – this helps me prioritize and make the best possible decision for myself and my organization.
I also make a conscious choice to disconnect, as much as I can, when I can. For instance, when I’m on vacation with my family, I do check emails. However, I know that I have a team in place to manage each aspect of the business in my absence, so I only step in where needed. This all goes back to developing a reliable and driven team that keeps things moving toward our collective goals, and pursuing our mission of helping people lead happier, healthier lives one smile at a time.
- What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
One of the biggest issues women face in the workplace today is feeling like they must choose between having a family and being a business leader. It’s important for management – whether male or female – to empower women at any level to be great employees, effective leaders and devoted parents.
This concept of choosing between your personal and professional goals, rather than being empowered to have both can keep women from pursuing leadership roles, potentially robbing your business of a great leader.
A lack of empowerment can also lead women to feel they must put their family plans on hold until they’ve reached a certain level of success. When really, as leaders, we should be enabling women to have it all, and providing them with the support and tools they need to be successful in all aspects of their life. Fulfilled, happy people are more productive, focused and can accomplish more for your business.
- How can we encourage more women to start their own business, or in your case, run a business?
Empower women to feel they can start or lead their own business without giving up their personal ambitions, whether that be having a family, pursuing a hobby or volunteering. The best leaders provide women with the support they need to do both. How, you ask?
The culture and philosophy of a company is the driving factor when it comes to supporting women, and some companies do that better than others.
And this doesn’t just go for women. Offering paternity leave to dads is important too, and somewhat of a new notion in some industries, but companies must understand the differences of working moms and working dads – the issues women face are drastically different. For instance, working moms who choose to breastfeed will need appropriate accommodations to be able to do so during working hours. This is just simply something that working dads do not have to face.
Whether you are a business leader or a business owner, understanding the unique hurdles that women face in the workplace and supporting them as they navigate toward their personal and professional ambitions is the best way we can encourage more women to start their own businesses, or step into leadership roles.
- How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have different types of mentors throughout my career, all of which were, interestingly, men. And, I’ve put my own personal spin on the things I’ve learned! While I may not have always identified with my mentors personally, I pulled out certain strengths that I did identify with, which has helped mold me into the leader I am today.
Because I value mentorships – even ones that I didn’t realize were influencing me at the time (hindsight is beautiful, right?) – I always encourage mentorship and have mentored others at DentalPlans.com.
- Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My mom. She taught me the most about how to work for what you want and how to succeed while remembering the importance of family.
- What do you want to professionally and personally accomplish in the next year?
Professionally, I want to escalate the awareness for our category – dental savings plans – among the rising number of uninsured and underinsured Americans. Our mission is to help people lead happier, healthier lives one smile at a time, and in order to do that, we need to continue to educate the public on what a dental savings plan is. This affordable alternative to traditional dental insurance can help plan members save 10-60% on their dental bills, but too many people are unaware that these plans exist, and therefore forgo their dental care which can lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease, among others. This heartbreaking truth is the reason my team and I are so passionate about helping more people discover dental savings plans.
Personally, I’d like to take better care of my health. I’ve put my family and work ahead of myself, and let my personal health take a back seat in the past. But, as the old saying goes, you can’t help others until you help yourself. So, I will be prioritizing my personal health this year.
At DentalPlans.com, we offer biometric screenings each year which can really open your eyes to health issues and concerns. I will definitely be taking advantage of this office perk as a first step to getting my health back on track.
- What are the top three tips you can offer to an entrepreneur or businesswoman start out?
One of my favorite sayings – which applies for business and personal situations – is: There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. So, my first tip is to be someone who makes things happen.
Second, stay true to who you are and the value that you create.
And lastly, always be open to learning, growing and changing. Even when that means making mistakes. Remember, you’ll find the lesson within.