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How to Break Your Own Rules

This week I had the privilege of have guest speaker Mary Davis Holt visit my International Business class. 
Not only was this exciting because it meant no lecture but it was also invigorating to see what ideas and advice she had to offer to us as growing young female leaders.

Mary Davis Holt, a partner with Flynn Heath Holt, is an executive coach who specializes in business, women, and leadership. Mary Holt graduated from Salem College with a degree in math and art before moving to New York City with only enough money to survive for a month. She was offered a job at Time Inc. as a bookkeeper and eventually realized that she needed a more advanced degree to be successful. Time Inc. paid for Holt’s tuition for graduate school under the condition that she remain employed with Time Inc. and went to school on either a business or journalism track.

She completed her M.B.A. after three years of taking night classes. As her career progressed she was asked to become the Senior Executive of Time Warner in Washington, while there she took on many leadership roles including managing the Amsterdam branch and administration that varied from finance to information technology; marketing to human resources. However, as time progressed she realized that her passion was “coaching women in senior leadership roles and responsibilities.” Deciding to follow this passion jump-started her career as a leadership coach, promoting leadership skills and practices to women globally. [pagebreak] During our class discussion I asked Holt if she felt that being a woman created obstacles in her climb up the corporate ladder, she stated yes and no: she benefited from working with a male CEO, Nick Nicolas, who was keen on promoting women into leadership and was eager to promote a woman to a CEO position. She stated that unlike before when women were trapped under a “glass-ceiling,” and unable to get business jobs at all, we are now facing more of a challenge when it comes to advancing from mid-rank to top executive positions.

Moreover, she went on to say that many countries around the world are mandating regulatory policies and approaches to putting women on the boards of corporations and organizations. Much of such female representation was lost following the Enron scandal and financial crisis, in which women only account for 20% of the board members. According to Holt,“we need at least 30% to have a voice.”
Her advice and her life story were very inspirational and informative.

Holt's skills as an orator are phenomenal and her ability to transform her speech from a lecture to an interactive discussion made her presence all the more welcoming. I learned that as up and coming leaders, there is always something to learn and gain from every course we take to obstacle we face. From the wonderful words of Ms. Mary Holt “be purposeful, don’t float through life!”

Ashlee Oliver is a junior at Hollins University; majoring in Economics with a minor in International Business. After she graduates she aspires to join a sales/marketing team with a television network or in the fashion industry. She hopes people can find some aid in the Her Campus articles and video blogs not only on your school website or even the central Her Campus site; yet explore the sites of your Her Campus counterparts from other universities. Stay Fabulicious! xoxo
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