Tag: MOMENTUM Class Participants

ALUMNA SPOTLIGHT: BRITTNEY SMITH

One of the greatest things about Momentum is the powerful alumnae network. Periodically we interview these amazing women about their experience in our program.

Brittney graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in Communications Management/Business Management in 2010.

Brittney began her career as a program and compliance specialist for the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity and later joined Virginia College as a Student Career Development Coach. She joined Birmingham Business Alliance in 2015 as a Program Manager, Workforce Development. And in 2019, Brittney began at Protective Life as a Corporate Recruiter and transitioned into her role as a Diversity & Inclusion specialist in January of 2021.

As a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist at Protective Life, Brittney Smith partners with HR & business leaders to develop and implement D&I strategy and programming designed to promote inclusion and increase diverse representation across the organization. She also leads Protective Life’s D&I outreach efforts, including establishing recruitment partnerships with colleges, universities, and professional organizations and leading Protective Life’s Summer Internship Program team.

Brittney is a board member of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham. She is a former board member of Better Basics Inc. as well as an inaugural member of Momentum’s first Upward cohort.

What did you gain from your Momentum experience?

Relationships. I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible women who are making an impact in Birmingham. Some of them even went on to become friends, which is something I count as my greatest gain. Another thing that contributed to my Momentum experience was the specific professional season I was in. There’s a point in every career where you have achieved quite a bit, but there’s still much more to go in terms of navigating the journey and taking ownership of your career, and Momentum helped me take more control over my career journey.

What is one piece of leadership advice you have been given that has helped you in your career?

Early on in my career, someone shared with me a piece of advice that still applies no matter what stage of your career you’re in, and that’s the need to trust that your God-given ability will always make room for you. If you give your best in whatever position you’re in, do right by people, and be authentic, the right opportunity will always come to you. When I think about people that have given me advice I think it’s especially important, that when the door of opportunity is opened you’re ready to walk through it, and also leave the door open for other people to follow. 

If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?

The first thing I would say to my younger self is that success is a journey, and never compare that journey to others. The other thing I would add would be to learn at every stage and step of your career. No matter how difficult the job or the season may be, there is always something to learn.

What challenges do you think the next generation of women leaders faces?

The first thing that came to mind would be balance. In the new normal of work, more and more companies are allowing people to work remotely, though that’s a huge plus, it increases the difficulty of drawing an important line between work and home. Both men and women have different home priorities, but it is especially true for women. 

The second thing that came to mind is connectivity. Relationships are incredibly important and it’s much harder to fully connect in a gratifying way in a virtual world. Women need to find ways to be intentional and overcome that obstacle to build and maintain relationships as we move away from traditional work experiences. 

What do you think organizations need to do differently for more women to rise into executive roles?

Mckinsey & Co. produced a report in partnership with the Lean In organization back in 2019. According to the report, for every 100 men hired or promoted into a first-time manager role, only 72 women are hired into that same position. These numbers are even lower for women of color. That’s a gap. When I think about potential solutions, I immediately think of sponsorship. Companies have the opportunity to consider putting more thought into building out a framework for sponsorship specifically for women and underrepresented minorities. Most people are willing to mentor, and I think that mentoring is an incredible opportunity, but women need sponsors, advocates, people willing to invite us to the table and have our voices heard to truly experience growth. 

What three words do you think should characterize every leader?

The first one is integrity. Good leaders should do what they say they’re going to do. People should be able to trust their words. A good leader will do the right thing, even when no one is looking. The second word that comes to mind is vision. I think the ability to cast a vision as well as bring others into that vision and help them see how they fit into the vision is a sign of a good leader. The last thing I associate with a good leader is empathy. Good leaders can connect with people and share the feelings of others.

How do you manage your career, home, and community life?

This is something I am in the process of restructuring how I balance all of those. One of the things I have been doing is making sure I know my priorities. For me, my priority is my family. I always want to be the person that thinks of my family and uses them as the drive for my success, not the other way around. One of the things that helps me balance my priorities, which I learned through one of the Momentum courses is taking a survey of all of my activities and responsibilities and ranking them based on what I can control. It’s also important to take the time during the day to accomplish the things that I need to accomplish so that it doesn’t carry over into my personal life. 

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?

My advice would be, talent is a start but it’s not enough. Sometimes we focus so much on the base talent of intellect or creativity and that’s great. What’s equally as important is development. Invest in your development. Develop your environment, and that includes your network, your skillset, and your character. 

Momentum February Webinar – “Ignite Your Spark”

On February 23, 2021, Momentum hosted a Webinar with Jeannine Bailey, the Talent and Employee Management Manager at Alabama Power. Along with Momentum’s Katherine Thrower, Manager of Logistics and Events, she guided a conversation with Birmingham women about finding purpose and passion outside the office.

 

About Jeannine Bailey, MBA, SHRM-SCP

We are happy to highlight Jeannine who was part of our Executive Class 15 (from 2015). Jeannine is a seasoned Human Resources, Public Relations, and Communications professional. She began her career with a rich 10 year background in Broadcasting, working for stations across cities such as: Salisbury (MD), Colorado Springs, Boston, Hartford (CT), and recently for iHeart Radio in Birmingham. She carried this experience into positions involving PR and Fundraising. Then, joined Alabama Power (Southern Nuclear) in 2013 as Communications Director. She moved up to a Human Resources Director (in 2017) and to her current position in March 2020. In this role, she leads the talent management team to grow internal and external resources,  employee engagement strategies, and employee development opportunities.

 

To view the recording video, please visit this link:

http://https://youtu.be/elcsWIMEIWw

How to Fit a Retreat into a Basket

Momentum’s executive programs usually begin with a two-day retreat, relaxing near a forest or pond. This year, we had to get creative in welcoming our new class! With a little help from Alabama Goods, Momentum logistics manager Katherine Thrower arranged locally sourced happies to create a “retreat in a basket.” Unlike the traditional fruit basket, each item had meaningful significance that was referenced in our sessions (don’t worry…we made room for snacks!). The whole Momentum team took part in dropping off baskets at each participants’ house to ensure they would feel celebrated!

“The retreat is about making them feel special because they are special,” says CEO April Benetollo. Each participant was analyzed based on their background, professional experience, and stage in life. If they were selected this year, “it’s the right time for them to be doing this.” This well-rounded group connected in breakout sessions and interactive activities to start the year off right. While the retreat focuses on emotional intelligence and awareness, the executive program shifts into different themes throughout the year.

Have you ever wondered what makes Momentum’s programming unique? We don’t just proofread your resume and send you on your way with a handout on teamwork. Momentum was founded with the goal of creating intentional relationships and personal growth.

  • The retreat sets the forecast for the rest of the year, asking participants, “Who are you?”
  • The next quarter focuses on the participant’s strengths and talents, asking, “How could you be directed to bring you more joy and value to your job/community?”
  • After that comes the real work. “How do you get there?” Momentum offers negotiation skills and resilience training to prep participants for the final stage.
  • Looking forward, the question remains, “How do you take that beyond you? What can you bring to your job, community, family, etc.?” Participants are encouraged to volunteer or join a local board to become more engaged with their community. In terms of professional growth, class members learn tactics to claim visibility, accept recognition, and share expertise with future game-changers.

Whether you’re in a program or not, Momentum has a place for you! Join us as a mentee or mentor today to meet more inspiring women in your community.

Mentoring Success Story

Lots of companies have mentoring programs, but it’s not always easy to find one that works. Momentum’s mentoring program has had great success for four main reasons.

  1. Momentum has a network of over 350 accomplished women graduates to choose from, so finding a good match is  less onerous than in a company setting where the pool of high-ranking women may be smaller.
  2. Most women that come through our program can cite several mentors in their own lives. They are most often men. Of course men make great mentors and those relationships are important. At the same time, having a woman mentor means someone who understands first-hand some of the unique challenges career women face, such as unconscious bias, wage gaps, family planning and extended family care.
  3. Our  network of potential mentors come from many different companies and represent a broad range of industries and roles. This diversity has real advantages over having a mentor from within the same company.
  4. All participants in the mentor program, mentors and mentees alike, receive training on how to set some goals and parameters. This training is very helpful in making sure both parties understand what they are trying to achieve and by when.

Currently we work with organizations like Girls Inc., area colleges, organizations for young professionals, and Momentum corporate partners to pair our graduates with young women seeking mentors. For example, last year we teamed up Momentum graduate and entrepreneur Jennifer Skjellum with a young Executive Property Manager for Davis Management, Molly Shuster.

Molly shared this with Momentum about the experience:

“Simply saying ‘thank you’ to Momentum for pairing me with Jennifer doesn’t feel like enough. Jennifer’s mentorship has developed into a friendship that I know will carry on for years to come; the guidance Jennifer provides both professionally and personally is the best gift I could ask for, and I encourage others to seek the same through this program. As a young woman, having an experienced professional you can look up to and call on with questions, knowing you will receive solid answers, is an advantage I encourage others to find. To be honest, I cannot recommend this program enough – it has been a wonderful experience.”

The benefits of mentoring are reserved for the mentee. There’s a lot in it for the mentor too, according to Jennifer:

“After graduating from Momentum I joined the Momentum Alumna Program (MAP) to continue my relationship with the organization and with the people I met through the program. I also joined so that I could take advantage of the opportunity to be placed as a mentor.  Mentoring, networking, and relationship-building are the benefits of MAP that are most important to me.  As a successful woman, I enjoy motivating and mentoring others. I also feel an obligation to help ensure the next generation of professional women have the opportunity to advance further than I have.

I was matched with Molly Shuster. Over the past nine months of getting to know her, I gained a new friend, a better sense of self and have become a better listener.  It has been fulfilling to leverage my experience and networks to benefit another person. “

About Molly: 

Molly Shuster is the Executive Property Manager for Davis Management, Inc. in Birmingham, AL. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 and looks forward to continuing her experience with an emphasis on Birmingham’s growing real estate market.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Skjellum is an entrepreneur, educator and ecosystem builder.  Her 25 year career includes experience building companies, building educational programs for undergraduates and professionals, and most recently leading a nonprofit organization with the mission of growing and strengthening the technology ecosystem in Birmingham, Alabama region.

Taking Time to Lead

Working women are so incredibly busy with demanding careers, sometimes working harder than their male colleagues to prove their merit. At the same time they are often caring for children, parents, siblings, or neighbors…sometimes all of the above, and all at the same time. It can be incredibly difficult to set aside the necessary time for self-reflection and to build relationships with an objective network of equally smart, driven, successful women.

img_5013That’s why each MOMENTUM year-long leadership class begins with an off-site retreat to set the tone. Last week we loaded up a big bus and headed to the Marriott Shoals in beautiful Florence, Alabama to start the work on us.

Phones off. Completely disconnected. Time to focus, breathe, and get to know the women that will become part of a powerful network.

 

img_5067We asked Gerriann Fagan, one of three facilitators during the retreat, to share her take on our time together. Gerriann is President of Warren Averett Workplace with 20 years experience in career development and coaching. She is also an alumnae of MOMENTUM. Having been on both sides of the participant/facilitator in the program, Gerriann has a unique perspective to share.

“When I participated in MOMENTUM’s Class 10, I began a journey with new friends and colleagues. In the few years since we graduated, my classmates and I have been through many challenging as well as joyful times: advances in careers, new career choices, life changes and big moves. We’ve been there for each other. MOMENTUM widened my perspective and gave me invaluable insight into the importance of having space in your life.

img_5033This year (2016) was the 2nd year I co-facilitated the MOMENTUM Retreat. It is fascinating how unique and different the groups are and how quickly they gel. This class was completely at ease listening, sharing and advising one another.

If someone came into the program with a goal of advancement, she found someone who had blazed a similar trail. If she was ready to make a life change, there was someone who had done that too. Challenges, hopes and dreams were swirled around easily and quickly in opening exercises.

Thinking about my experience with MOMENTUimg_5009M through the eyes of a participant – I didn’t know what I was getting into or what I’d get out of it. I was really surprised at how the experience enriched my life and career, and how much continue to get out of it to this day. Through the eyes of a facilitator, I am amazed at how Birmingham continues to nominate such impressive women to MOMENTUM, class after class.

I found Class 14 to be especially open, collaborative, and driven. Beautiful things happen when we take the time to lead. It’s going to be fantastic to see where these women will take us.”

Gerriann Fagan
President
Warren Averett Workplace

MOMENTUM Announces Leadership Class 2016-2017

class14

MOMENTUM, Alabama’s premier women’s leadership program, announces its 2016-2017 leadership class with a kick-off luncheon and orientation at Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Keynote speaker  Olivia Affuso, PhD, UAB Department of Epidemiology, delivered an inpiring message on what we can accomplish when we embrace adventure and surround ourselves with strong supporters. The luncheon was followed by an orientation for the class, led by MOMENTUM CEO, Barbara Royal.

 “MOMENTUM’s class members are selected from a wide variety of roles, such as legal, finance, HR, operations, marketing, and services, and across many industries including engineering, journalism, healthcare, banking, insurance, construction and more,” says Barbara Royal, MOMENTUM’s CEO. “Despite the diversity in their occupations, these classes consistently discover that they have many things in common and so much to share in terms of leadership and support.”

What’s in store for MOMENTUM’s New Class

Following orientation, the 2016-2017 class traveled to Muscle Shoals, AL, for a two-day retreat to begin the nine-month  training and mentoring program.   Monthly sessions will include topics such as communication, negotiation, strategic planning, resilience, and work life integration strategies.

Upon graduation in May 2017, these 27 women will join almost 330 alumnae of MOMENTUM and bring the number of companies, governments, and nonprofits involved in MOMENTUM to 140 organizations across the state.

2016-2017 Class Members

Lisa Arrington
Director of Human Resources
Balch & Bingham

Emily Boohaker
Associate Chief Medical Officer Quality & Patent Safety
UAB Health System

Paige Boshell
Partner
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Mary Beth Briscoe
CFO of UAB Hospital and UAB Medicine Clinical Operations
UAB 

Susan Coan
Director, Organizational Learning
and Development
UAB

Kathryn Evans
Administrative Director, Orthopedics and Neuroscience Service Line
Brookwood Baptist Medical Center

Molly Harrison
Senior Vice President, Services
Daxko

Ira Hodges
Director, Internal Audit and Controls
HealthSouth Corporation

Wendy Hoomes
Assistant Comptroller
Alabama Power Company

Kimberly Jackson
Manager, SE Business Operations
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama

Angela Jarrett
Vice President, Claims and Benefit Administration
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama

Christy Lemak
Professor and Chair of Health Services Administration
School of Health Professions, UAB

Sandy Littleford
VP & Senior HR Partner
Protective Life Corporate

Patti Lovoy
Director of Development
Lakeshore Foundation

Carol Maxwell
Manager, Vulcan Foundation
Vulcan Materials Company

Hope Mehlman
Senior Vice President, Assistant General Counsel, and Assistant Corporate Secretary
Regions Financial Corporation

Lori Moler
Vice President, Customer Service
Children’s of Alabama

Desiree Morgan

Vice Chair for Education
University of Alabama Hospital

Margaret Ann Pyburn
Executive Vice President
Cobbs Allen

Mandy Schwarting
Director of Pipeline Management
Alagasco

Sarah Kay Sexton Wos
Senior Vice President, Director of ERM & Risk Transformation
BBVA Compass

Sheri Snow
Wellness Manager
AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company

Susan Stabler
Senior Project Manager
Brasfield and Gorrie

Anna Velasco
Executive Director of Medicaid and Regulatory Affairs
VIVA Health

Tammy White
Director, Organizational Development
and Learning
St. Vincent’s Health System

Kelly Willis
Controller and Vice President
Synovus Mortgage Corporation