After interviewing Delaney Bradley, a College Relationship Specialist at ALKU and 2017 Bryant Alum, Her Campus Bryant was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with three other women from ALKU.
ALKU is a staffing and recruiting firm in Andover, MA, that connects companies with highly skilled consultants within the ERP, Healthcare IT, Life Sciences, Government and Information Security fields. HC Bryant had the chance to talk with Leah Bourdon, the Senior Director of Training and Development, Tarah Lovato, a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager, and Mailee Zhou, an Operations Manager within the ALKU Government sector.
These successful women were the perfect people to learn from in regard to what it takes to climb the corporate ladder, how to be a strong woman in a male-dominated field, and how to achieve work-life balance. Keep reading to hear their advice for young, aspiring, female professionals!
Leah Bourdon, Senior Director of Training and Development
HC: You first joined ALKU as a recruiter, but have since advanced to your current role of Senior Director of Training and Development – what skills allowed you to climb the ranks?
LB: I really worked hard to be the best at my job which allowed me the opportunity to advance into new spaces and careers at ALKU. On top of hard work and a positive attitude, I was able to recognize where I wanted to go in some instances and asked for those opportunities. If you put yourself out there and make yourself available for more, you will ultimately get more.
HC: You founded AWE, or ALKU Women Empowered – tell us a little bit about AWE and what inspired you to spearhead this initiative at ALKU?
LB: I am so proud that we have this program at ALKU! When I started here over eight years ago I was the only female in a revenue-producing (sales) role. I felt like I had something to prove. Thinking back to those feelings and thinking ‘who do I have to look up to?’ I wanted to have a group in place and people in place for future women at ALKU to look up to. It’s important to give the women leaders acknowledgment.
Furthermore, sales is typically a male-dominated field and so it is important to support and empower women in this industry as a whole. We want to give women a safe space to build skills, share ideas and talk about roadblocks that women face together. We are so thrilled to have a support system in place for women at ALKU to help women reach higher levels in management.
HC: Here at Her Campus Bryant, we are always inspired by women in upper management positions, but with high-ranking roles comes a lot of responsibility. How have you managed to find a balance between managing a team at ALKU and your life outside of work?
LB: Support! Support at work and support at home allow me to be able to do my best in both places. This is not a glamorous answer. It is not easy to find balance between managing a team and life outside of work. It is hard. Much of the time I feel as though I am either not always giving 100% at work or 100% at home, but it is a balance. Some periods of time are more focused on work and other times there is a lull and I can focus more on my outside life. Undoubtably there are times when I find myself doing work late at night when I am home and vice versa. ALKU has been very supportive in giving me flexibility that I find I occasionally need.
Tarah Lovato, Pharmaceutical Sales Manager
HC: Sales is historically a male-dominated field – what inspired you to work within sales and what are some of the advantages of being a woman in this field?
TL: Sales had always piqued my interest due to the challenges and personal satisfaction associated with it. I am a confident individual and wanted to prove that females could do the job just as well as males; I am fairly relentless in the face of adversity. I wanted a role where I could be challenged, develop tangible skills, make good money and have fun – and for me, that was sales. I believe that being a woman in sales has its advantages. Historically, women outperform men in sales as well as connect with clients/customers more effectively.
HC: Leah Bourdon gave us some background on AWE – why do you think it’s important to have a women-empowerment group in the workplace?
TL: I think it is so important to have a women-empowerment group in the workplace for several reasons. Sales/recruiting is a field with a low representation of women and I think this program will help take steps to bridge the gap. Our program allows women to have a safe space to talk about different skills, challenges and themes that we face as women. The program builds trust within the women at the company and serves as a platform to learn/improve on specific skills.
HC: As the leader of a team of account managers, what is one important skill you have learned in terms of managing people?
TL: Communication and trust is key. I have managed several different types of people and it is important to understand that everyone learns differently and is receptive to different management styles. It is important to adapt as a leader to your employees while also building a strong foundation of trust.
Mailee Zhou, Operations Manager, ALKU Government
HC: Part of your role as Operations Manager involves organizing company events – what do you think makes a successful corporate event and what has been your favorite event so far?
MZ: Know your audience/clientele. I’ve planned events for both our contractors and for our internal employees, and I’ve collected a lot of feedback from both groups and adjusted events according to that feedback.
My favorite event is our DC Holiday Party for our contractors. We get to see most of our contractors and it’s a great time to just relax and have a great time with everyone!
HC: ALKU’s philosophy is that their employees should “have fun working hard” – so, how do you have fun working hard even when you’re busy managing a team of people, holding employees accountable for their productivity, and keeping systems working properly?
MZ: I try to always keep a positive vibe within my group. Like most, we can all have our crazy busy, hectic, and down days, but instead of choosing to look at it negatively, I like to laugh about it and keep the energy light. I have a great team who are like-minded and we always joke around with each other and help each other out when we feel like we have a lot on our plates.
HC: Leah Bourdon gave us some background on AWE – how has being part of women-empowerment group in the workplace positively impacted your experience at ALKU?
MZ: Just knowing that I that I have a massive support group to go to if I ever need advice on how to handle certain situations is great!
Finally, we asked the woman of ALKU what advice they have for young women going into their first job in corporate America:
LB: My advice would be to put in 110% effort, get good at what you do, and good things will come your way. Speak up for yourself. Don’t be afraid. Ask for what you want. Think outside the box. You won’t get anything unless you ask!
TL: You’ll be better at it than you think. Women have characteristics that make them a good fit for sales (and other roles) such as their ability to build relationships and trust. Be confident and demand excellence from yourself.
MZ: You’re no different than any other person going into their first job in corporate America and should be treated equally as anyone who started their first job with you. Work hard, stay motived, and you will succeed!
Thank you to everyone at ALKU for taking the time to give your words of wisdom to the women of Bryant University and readers of HC Bryant!
All photos provided by Delaney Bradley