One of the greatest things about Momentum is the powerful alumnae network. Periodically we interview these amazing women about their experience in our program.
Michele Elrod joined Regions in 1984 and provides strategic marketing direction and management as the Head of Marketing for Regions, a regional bank that operates throughout the South, Midwest and Texas and is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.
Before serving in her current position, Michele held a number of management roles in strategic marketing and sales training for Regions and AmSouth Banks, and was the Marketing Director for The First National Bank of Tuscaloosa. Prior to entering the financial industry, Michele served in management roles directing public and media relations, fundraising, education and volunteer services in the Mental Health Services industry.
Michele has a master’s degree from the University of Alabama School of Communication and Information Sciences. She is a graduate of Momentum, the Birmingham Women’s Leadership Program, and The J. Mack Robinson College of Business Executive Program for Advanced Leadership Development.
Michele currently serves as a mentor for women in the University of Alabama School of Communication and Information Sciences and the Collat Marketing and Sales School at UAB Collat School of Business. She serves as the Vice President of Programs on Momentum’s Board of Directors, the University of Alabama – Communication and Information Sciences College, and the Marketing and Sales Advisory Board to the UAB Collat School of Business.
Michele was recognized in 2016 as one of the top 34 “Women Who Shape the State of Alabama” and in 2014 by The Birmingham Business Journal as a top CMO in the C-suite awards. She is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Alumna Award in Advertising from the University of Alabama School of Communication and Information Sciences. She was voted top Woman under 30 by the Tuscaloosa YWCA.
Michele is an active speaker in the field on topics such as: Social Media and Marketing to the “New Consumer,” The Use of Big Data and the Changing Roles of Marketing, The Adaptive Customer Enterprise-Integrating Sales and Marketing to Drive Sales Growth, Addressability at Scale through Digital Platforms, Mentoring Women, Customer Centricity and Digital in the Financial Industry and Marketing and AI.
What did you gain from your Momentum experience?
Momentum provides an opportunity to “step away” from the hustle and bustle of every day and learn, consider new ideas, to invest in yourself. In many ways, I think of Momentum as an opportunity for discovery.
What is one piece of leadership advice you have been given that has helped you in your career?
There is always more than one way to do anything, and when you can’t see the other person’s point of view – move your chair.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
I would tell her that she needs to think about her personal brand. She will learn academics, but the real lessons and the most difficult lessons are those around leadership, conflict management, negotiation, etc. An 18-year-old most likely isn’t even thinking about those – so think about not only what you want to do – but also how.
What challenges do you think the next generation of women leaders face?
Everything moves at a much faster pace, and this will continue to accelerate. The leaders of tomorrow must be prepared for that; they must embrace technology, AI, and digital concepts. But this applies for men and women. For women in particular, I think many of today’s challenges will be there for the next generation– perhaps they have changed in terms of “degree” but they exist. Sure, we have made strides, but pay equality, gender stereotypes, balancing life, etc., still exist and will be there. The challenge for women is how to achieve and be a leader while maintaining the very things about “womanhood” that can propel you – make you more successful because they matter in leadership – vulnerability, collaboration, inspiring others, etc.
What do you think organizations need to do differently for more women to rise into executive roles?
They need to work hard to eliminate or reduce the unconscious biases. Eliminate double standards – which is difficult– as it is a perception and attitude bias. Build a culture of acceptance which permits different approaches – whether they be gender-driven or culture-driven.
What three words do you think should characterize every leader?
Inspiring, Visionary, Fair
How do you manage your career, home, and community life?
Some times are better than others. I think a lot of managing it “all” depends upon where you are in your career life-cycle. I have to give myself permission to know that I can’t do it all and that “no” is not negative when it benefits me and my family. I recognize what is important to me and focus on those things. Some things may not get done because they aren’t important in the scheme of things. The other piece of this is that if you are a female executive, having a spouse that recognizes what that means and being able to “turn over” certain things to that spouse is an imperative.
What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
Remember what motivated you to do your very best and then be that person – that motivator. Be flexible, knowing that leading is about learning and changing with the times.
Michele Elrod was interviewed by Bella Tylicki, Public Relations student at UAB.