By Sylvie Picard, Account Coordinator
March 8th, 2023 marked the 113th International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements and successes of women, while March is Women’s History Month. With women making up 55% of our staff, March is always near and dear to our hearts. Yesterday, today, and every day, we work with gratitude for the strong female leaders that have paved the way for our success as an agency.
This Women’s History Month, we’d like to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the brilliant minds that keep the Waters running at our agency. These women are full of determination, courage, and commitment. Trailblazers in the tech realm of public relations and role models to the emerging generation of PR professionals, it is undoubtedly true that the show would not go out without their magnificent work and ideas. Their work ethic is second to none and they inspire us all to reach our full potential.
While it is undoubtedly true that all the women on our staff immensely contribute to the well-oiled machine that is Waters Agency, we've hand-picked the women who help make up our leadership team to share their input and advice on the topic of #EmbracingEquity.
COO and SVP, Client Experience
Tracey has 30+ years’ experience in agency-side PR. Her PR expertise comes from working with dozens of clients on B2B, B2C, G2C and non-profit campaigns, while her operational know-how stems from running PR agencies including her own B2B tech agency. She has been with Waters Agency since its inception in 2017 and keeps her finger on the pulse by actively working on accounts. Tracey’s clients at Waters span container, cloud, data storage, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
How did you navigate power structures early in your career versus later in your career when you had a more formal leadership role?
As a young professional, I found it impossibly hard to advocate for myself, which meant a thousand injustices went unanswered and I suffered a great deal of frustration, which was no less keen for being self-inflicted. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy encapsulated by Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” So, now that the shoe is on the other foot, I make it a point to approach each employee engagement with one ear attuned to the things not said and an eye open for subtle changes in attitude and atmosphere. As a result, I can often pick up on shifts in the wind early, then make space for people to safely have their say – whether it’s to ask for or about something, set the record straight, or just get something off their chest. For so long, women have been criticized for being overly sensitive or emotional in the workplace, but when you look at it through the lens described above, sensitivity and empathy can be superpowers when you channel them into your leadership role. No employee will ever complain that you’re too attuned to their needs or listen too well to them... My advice to the next generation of women leaders is to fully and emphatically embrace your sensitivity, emotionality, empathy, or whatever power you’ve been gifted with!
Tracey’s colleagues describe her as an all-around expert, an excellent writer, a charismatic leader, reliable, and eloquent.
Sr. Director Of Operations And Finance
Following 20 years’ experience as a publisher, Hollie works on the important work that helps run the agency. As part of the Leadership team, she works closely in the day to day areas as well as recruitment, client contracts, benefits, invoicing, back-end infrastructure and much more.
How can women develop their leadership skills?
I believe women are natural born leaders. Many without realizing so. Be it they are raising kids, leading a Girl Scout troop, volunteering, coaching…their "lead" role is, more than likely, BIG! Compassion, patience, organization, time management, and multitasking are among the many skills being practiced every day that can add to making a great leader in the workplace.
I personally believe a true great leader focuses on the people around them, finds opportunities in all situations, does things that matter, and finds or allows the greatness in others to shine. Leaders providing others with the tools they need to develop their full capabilities or to find their hidden greatness creates empowerment and motivation. It also helps build trust, an inclusive culture, greater connection, and remarkable results. With more and more women taking on leadership roles, the opportunities to build leadership skills can be practiced every day in their day-to-day lives. Mother Theresa and Princess Diana paved the way for women everywhere to build on.
Hollie’s colleagues describe her as hardworking, a great listener, invested, dependable, and a force of positivity.
Maria is VP of Waters Agency, bringing with her 11 years of experience in B2B tech and corporate comms. Maria has a passion for launching disruptive technologies to new markets, and directing successful teams and leading award-winning client campaigns. She has worked with blue-chip companies and start-ups, from Red Hat to HP and Nokia to Starship Technologies, Stack Overflow, Ogury and Open-Xchange, Knotel and ClassPass, among others.
What is your advice to women starting out in their careers and looking to excel in their fields?
In order to progress across different levels of your career, you will have to ‘earn’ your chair at the table every single time. Early on, you feel more 'on your own', you don’t necessarily have a voice or don’t have the tools to successfully navigate power structures. Naturally, with experience comes more confidence, but also ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ – for a leader, the stakes are higher in a way and over the years I got to work on my ‘diplomacy’ and ‘issue resolution’ skills more. You always need to put in the work, observe, be respectful and balanced. Do speak your mind though - the world needs original thinkers who push for what they believe in and work hard for it!
Maria’s colleagues describe her as a generous mentor, persistent, knowledgeable, organized, and high energy.
Jessica is a seasoned PR and content marketing professional. Through her in-house and agency experience, she built a strong history of bringing a brand’s voice to life through strategic storytelling and promotion. She is skilled in strategic counsel, program management and media relations specializing in data storage, cybersecurity, cloud computing and enterprise software.
How important is it to have a mentor to grow as a leader?
The importance of mentorship can’t be overstated, and it’s so essential throughout your career. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with and still work with many women in leadership throughout my career, who have helped me shape my own career journey. Whether it’s someone to bounce ideas with or discuss challenging situations, mentors are great to have in your corner and can really help you grow.
Jessica’s colleagues describe her as an amazing leader, committed, patient, unflappable, and devoted.
About the author:
Sylvie Picard, Account Coordinator, Orlando, FL is an honors graduate of the University of Central Florida where she majored in Communications with a focus on international studies. Preceding her role at Waters Agency, she was the founder and C-suite of her eCommerce business. Sylvie consistently implements creative thought behind all her endeavors.