(Article originally published on SOMO Global)
By Kirsty Styles (Communications Executive, SOMO)
Jerri DeVard addressed the few men braved the Women in Wireless London launch with “welcome to our world, we have expertise in discomfort!” Said with a smile and charm, she won everyone over immediately.
In a lemon dress, the tall African-American Executive VP and CMO of Nokia cut an interesting figure, and brought with her a truly inspirational story that left time poor women in the crowd scrambling to call their mother, wherever in the world she is.
Like Jerri, her audience want to be happy and successful. Before us, it felt like we had the embodiment of just that. “I wanted to be successful personally too, jobs come and go, your family is always there” she added.
The Women in Wireless launch couldn’t have been better timed, coinciding with the news that the pay gap in London is the largest in the UK, almost 23%, childcare costs stop women from going back to work, while female unemployment has risen by 7,000.
Jerri has two children, and committed with her husband that they would be ‘present’, there would always be someone to sit down and have dinner with them. She has turned down meetings to be at their special moments.
“We all stand on someone’s shoulders” she said, of the need for women to help guide others to success . She mentors young women around the world, giving them anything from an email, a text, to a shoulder to cry on. As a teacher, you have to ask ‘How can I help you?’
“Can you have it all?”, the age old question came from the audience. “Maybe you can’t have it ‘all’ at the same time. But we owe it to ourselves to find out what ‘it all’ is. You make it work.”
She finished her address with the words of Nicky Giovannia, the American writer and activist: “I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.”
The best thing you can say to someone in business is, ‘I’d like your help’.
Know your strengths and play to them.
There is no substitute for being good at what you do – you have to be good to enjoy it, you have to enjoy it to be good.
Lean to those people who think differently to you.
Find those people at work who will give you an honest opinion about who you are and how you are perceived.
Your mum is someone who loves you, and also someone you can trust [not necessarily guaranteed in a relationship]
Friends tell you what you want to hear.
Her mum put herself through college after having two children, ‘isn’t being my wife and the mother of my children enough for you?’ her husband urged. ‘No. I want to do more.’ She rose to become the Commissioner for Literacy for the State of Massachusettes.
Be careful who you choose to take on your journey.