Elaine Dalton, VP of Sales at Keds, is part of WIFI’s Boston chapter. For FN’s Women in Power series, Dalton shares both top advice and biggest challenges for women.
Overall experience, Boston chapter: “The community has grown tremendously with over 100 active members in the group. The group has covered a diverse range of topics that includes negotiation skills, managing through change and the always popular work and life balance.
“I have a unique experience with the mentoring program because I went through it in the pilot year as a mentee, and I have since mentored several women who have all been in different stages of their career. As a mentee, I was paired up with Anna Bakst of Michael Kors.”
Most surprising thing you learned: “I am always surprised at how generous people in the footwear community are with their time. As a leader, I think it’s really important to make yourself accessible to others.”
Best advice received: “Continue to push yourself by taking on roles or projects that make you just a little bit uncomfortable, those are typically the opportunities that offer the most personal and professional growth.”
Biggest challenges for women: “I think the roles that have been traditionally dominated by men are often roles that require a lot of travel, whether that is sales or product development as an example. It is important for women and men to have a strong support system so that they can succeed at home and at work. We need to create cultures that support balance for both women and men. As a manager, I try to be considerate of people’s personal lives and priorities and to give them the time and space they need.”
Advice for cultivating more young female talent: “In my day-to-day [activities], I am literally surrounded by female talent. At Keds we have women leading the product, sales and marketing functions, which I think is fairly unique. To cultivate young talent, it’s important for organizations to support the career path planning process, but sometimes it’s more simple than that … it can be inviting someone to a meeting where he/she can listen in, giving them the opportunity to present in front of a group or even to participate on a project team. These are all great opportunities for employees to learn and grow their skill set.”