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Women of Qualified: Sarah

Meet Sarah McConnell, Qualified's VP of Demand Gen and very own volleyball star. Sarah's intelligence, grit, and empathetic leadership has helped create a culture of inclusion, celebration, and fun. Learn how Sarah has leaned into leadership and how she thinks women can and should support women below ⬇️

How should women support other women in their organizations?

There are a few actionable things that come to mind. First, it's so important to understand that women can have very different communication styles and always to leave judgment at the door. For the former, If I am in a meeting with women present, I make sure I watch for body language. I'm always assessing if someone may want to speak up—I am naturally a pretty loud, talkative person, so if I notice another woman being talked over I always try to stop the conversation, and give her a chance to be heard.
Secondly, we have to leave judgment at the door and trust the women on your team. Women take on so much both personally and professionally. Supporting women means recognizing if another woman you work with needs to take time, leave early, start late...Let her! And don’t pass judgment.
Trust the women on your team to get their job done while balancing the million other things they have on their plate. 

What mistakes have you made along the way and what did you learn from them?

I've learned that I have to trust my gut. If it feels off, it probably is.
This can be as big as joining the wrong company or down to something as small as feeling like messaging in a marketing asset might be off. Too many times, I have ignored the little voice in the back of my head that something isn't quite right, or needs to be changed, only to realize later I should have listened.
I think women, too often, second guess themselves or might not speak up in fear of overstepping or hurting feelings. In the long run, this does both you and your company a great disservice.
Having learned from that, I try to be very in-tune with that little voice or gut feeling. And if she is telling me something is off, I listen and make a change. 

Why do you think companies benefit from having more women at the top?

Companies need thought diversity, plain and simple.
If you have too many of the same type of voice in a room, you get stagnant. Women bring a unique point of view to leadership, plus I think  they will see things happening in the org that others might not. Women tend to be more sensitive to how people are feeling. Women in leadership can notice problems arising in an organization earlier and implement change quicker to stay ahead. Secondly, I think people like to see themselves represented at the table. If you have a ton of badass women on your team striving for greatness, but they don’t see a woman with a seat at the head table, it can put a huge damper on her ambition and drive. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

If you want to go after something, do it. Don’t second guess yourself, don’t doubt yourself. Do you want that promotion? It’s yours. Do you want to lead that big project? Own it. Whatever it is you want to tackle next, tell yourself you can every single day like a mantra and go after it with everything you have. Too many amazing women I have worked with have doubted themselves because of X, Y, or Z reason. However you can, learn to let go of that doubt. One thing I found that helped is any time you work on a project you are proud of, file that away; literally. For me, I am really metrics driven. When I launch something I am really proud of and the metrics are there to prove it, I have a file on my desktop where I save that. And on days when that imposter syndrome monster rears her ugly head, I have that to go look at and remind myself… oh yeah. I deserve to be here. I am good at my job. That gentle reminder can help women be confident in what they do.

Do you have a woman leader as a mentor or are there specific women who inspired you and why?

There are 3 that stand out: 
My mom. Corny, I know. But my mom is, honest to god, the toughest woman I know. She speaks her mind and she works her tail off, and people respect her for it. On days where I might be nervous to speak up in a room full of men, I channel my mom and remember my voice is just as important. 
My sister-in-law, Megan Guy. Megan is in marketing and has been such an amazing mentor to me. When I made the shift into B2B marketing, I could always count on Megan to be my sounding board. She is so thoughtful and intelligent, and will listen to any of my problems, big or small, and just gives the most  incredible advice. I would definitely not be where I am today without her guidance. 
Our CMO, Maura Rivera. Maura is one of the best marketers in the business so I learn from her each and every day. But beyond that, she is just so patient and kind. Maura approaches every problem with such a level head and she steers our marketing organization with an unwavering calm. My emotions tend to run a little on the hot side, so every day I remind myself to “channel my inner Maura” to help me take a breather, think something through a little more, and lead by her example.

Inspired by Sarah's messages? You're in luck—she's hiring! Check out open roles on her team here.

Sarah, Qualified is what it is because of your leadership. Thank you for all that you do for us!

Posted on
December 22, 2021
by
Emma Calderon

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