Female corporate executives offer secrets to success

November 18, 1990|By Carol Kleiman | Carol Kleiman,Chicago Tribune

When women began moving up the corporate ladder into executive positions in the 1970s, some people said they'd never survive.

But there are those who did. And these veterans have advice for women eager to know the secrets of success.

Advertising: Adrienne Hall, vice chairwoman of Eisaman, Johns & Laws Advertising Agency in Los Angeles, says to be successful in corporate America you must "have competence, be productive and develop a comfort level with male colleagues at the top. If you can't do the latter, you'll be gone eventually."

Ms. Hall, one of the top-ranking women in advertising, says frustration often drives women out. "If you want to be the president or CEO, I would say lessen your expectations or you'll be disappointed. There are few women at the top."

Retailing: Although surviving in the retailing, manufacturing and fashion business is no laughing matter, a woman with 20 years' experience says a sense of humor is primary.

"I've learned not to take myself too seriously and to be easy to be with," says Jane Evans, president and chief executive officer of InterPacific Retail Group, a privately-held company based in San Francisco. "Then, gender stereotypes are quickly forgotten."

Cosmetics: "Women should first do their homework and join companies that are gender blind," says Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner, president of Estee Lauder International Inc. in New York, the largest division of the $2 billion Estee Lauder cosmetics firm. "After that, performance is what it's all about."

Academia: "Excitement and belief in the importance of what you do are essential," said Dr. Ruth Morgan, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Then, there absolutely is no substitute for hard work, self-discipline and making your own opportunities."

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