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VOL. 131 | NO. 42 | Monday, February 29, 2016

Hardy: Human Collateral, Strong Networks Can Propel Women to Success

By Madeline Faber

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The ‘good old boys’ club is the fabric of the business community.

Carolyn Hardy, Stacy McCall, Sara Burnett and Sarah Petschonek spoke on the value of a women's business network at the Women & Business seminar, hosted by The Memphis Daily News. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Carolyn Hardy knew she couldn’t fight it, so she made it a point to play the same game by using relationships as investments that led to opportunities in a world where most doors are closed to women.

“A male creates human collateral through his friendships, golfing buddies, and his ability to steer decision in his friends' direction which indicates his power and control in relationships,” Hardy said. “I don't think women place enough emphasis on human collateral.”

On Feb. 26, Hardy delivered the keynote at the fourth annual Women & Business Seminar, hosted by The Memphis Daily News.

To a sold-out crowd in The Brooks Museum’s 200-seat auditorium, Hardy stressed the importance of lifting up other women and having confidence in the face of a male-dominated industry.

“I felt like the story of David and Goliath,” she explained. With her business Henderson Transloading, Hardy stores and ships grain, lumber and other goods for major U.S. customers.

If other women want to play in the big leagues, Hardy said, they need to be lifting up each other.

Sara Burnett, public relations manager for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, said that working under a female president and CEO (Meri Armour) creates a supportive environment.

“They want to bring us along,” she said of her female peers. “They’re very interested in legacy.”

Burnett was part of a panel discussion following the keynote address. She, along with Stacy McCall, president and CEO of ServiceMaster by Stratos, Dr. Sarah Petschonek, founder and director of Volunteer Odyssey, and Hardy spoke on the challenges facing women in business.

“People want to make ambition a dirty word,” Hardy said. “I ask, are we not ambitious enough?”

McCall added that she has to be ambitious – for her sake and her company’s 280 employees.

“If you’re taking someone on the journey with you, is it really ambition? Would it be looked at that way?” McCall said. “When I am selling myself, the brand of ServiceMaster, I’m selling my people along with me. If you label it ambition, because I want those that depend on me every day and my business to succeed so they can have a better life, I’ll own it then.”

Petschonek said that when she was first finding her footing in the professional world, she was drawn to women-only networking groups. While these resources are valuable, they alone wouldn’t take her where she needed to go.

“I realized I was using it as a place to hide,” she said.

In Hardy’s view, women need to be building a true network with each other instead of just socializing.

“We at times can be our worst enemy. We need to look across the hallway and look at what the guys are doing,” she said. “We need to build those same types of tight relationships with each other because you're going to want to go into business for yourself. And in business, you will never make a sale if you call the receptionist.”

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