When Elizabeth speaks, whether as a member of the board of The Boston Club or as its Marketing Committee chair, it's clear she has been in many boardrooms offering advice and strategies to leaders. And it is inspiring to hear her back story of going from a tenacious twenty-something college recruiter to National Director of Marketing for a Big Six accounting firm, and on to founding her own strategic marketing, branding, and business development consulting firm.
Q. What has surprised you most about your career path?
A. While I didn’t have any real specific game plan, as I look back, my path has made sense--a logical evolution to everything I’ve done, from sales and marketing to being very entrepreneurial and building teams. I have always been a builder, very strategic and focused; I like to get things done!
Q. Give us a taste of an unexpected turn in your career.
A. I went from a job in sales and marketing for a college to its financial aid director, which meant working with the college’s auditors, Touche Ross. When they were looking for someone to do Big 8 recruiting, I went for it even though I was not a CPA and was a woman. At the last interview after a six month process, the firm’s managing partner in Boston asked me what I’d do if I was interviewing a student who didn’t give me the time of day because he assumed I didn’t have clout as a woman. I took a deep breath, and said, given everything he and his colleagues had told me about the firm, that I would think he would not want someone who would make such an assumption, and I would not invite him back. Then and there the managing partner said: You’re hired. And he became my boss, my mentor and a very dear friend.
Q. What does your firm do these days?
A. I work with a variety of professional services firms including accounting/consulting, legal, financial services, and wealth/investment management firms. I help them with their strategic positioning and client development initiatives. My clients often need someone to guide them, whether it’s refreshing the brand, creating strategic targeting and growth strategies, or developing a new website. I have developed a brand methodology that includes determining what the perceptions are of the firm in the marketplace, the value they bring to clients and what sets them apart. Clients are finding this process to be a very helpful foundation for developing growth plans, as it is based on real data from inside and outside the organization.
Q. Those skills sound relevant to what the Marketing Committee has been doing for The Boston Club. Can you share some highlights of your accomplishments?
A. I believe in The Boston Club. Advancing the brand, and building public awareness of the Club is important to me. We (the Marketing Committee) are very passionate about engaging members. It’s exciting that we’ve been able to advance the Club’s brand recognition in the marketplace and enhanced media relations for the Club through our outside PR counsel, Liberty Square Group (Judy Rakowsky). Equally important is engaging our members, developing communications channels to add value to their Club experience, and providing a framework for relationship building and developing business. The bi-weekly e-newsletter known as the “Dashboard” has been a real success! Many of our members completed the recent member survey that Club member and our resident “market research expert”, Marianne Herlihy developed to analyze how better to engage members and add value through better communication. Members will receive a summary of the survey on the Dashboard shortly!
Q. You are also a co-chair of the Boston Club’s 40th Anniversary celebration efforts. What’s that going to look like?
A. Julie Gerschick and I are very excited to be working together to led this great initiative for the Club! This impressive milestone affords us the platform to celebrate the Club’s accomplishments and create more awareness around the importance of advancing women leaders. We are eager to get input, ideas and help from the entire club. A number of members are involved with planning many programs. Continue to read the Dashboard for updates.
Q. How has bonding with women professionals made a difference for you?
A. I was interested in women’s rights all the way back to elementary school. I developed a big interest in the Suffragette movement, and then in college at Skidmore I took many cross-discipline women’s studies courses. I have always been interested in developing women’s leadership. The Club is about connecting and advancing women. I have a real passion for connecting people; it’s part of my DNA as a relationship builder. It’s really important to coach and help women advance.
Q. Have you had an important role model or mentor and did he or she impart an enduring message?
A. My boss, the one I mentioned who I met when he was the regional managing partner at Touche-Ross, later was my boss at Deloitte & Touche. He was my mentor and very dear friend. He’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met, and clearly the smartest person I ever worked for. He once told me: Stay out of the weeds – in office politics or even in volunteer worlds. It has been great advice and I share it often!
Q. What has changed for women in your industry over the years?
A. I was the first woman to hold a lot of jobs, but honestly I never thought about my working environment as male or female. I focused on developing strong working relationships with men and women. Today, there are a lot more women in the workforce than when I was coming up. Back then, you could not advance in your career and focus on work life balance. When I had our daughter, I wanted to keep my job, but work from home two days a week. Today that would be no problem, back then it was not an option!
Q. Tell me something that most people don’t know about you.
A. I love the game of football, the strategy, the player background stories, the scouting, and the trades. If I could do it all over again, I’d be doing color commentary for the NFL or even be the commissioner. So don’t call me on Sundays. I’m watching football. I'm already thinking about next season!!!