For Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting a few of RevGen’s incredible women leaders. These interviews will highlight their experiences, their accomplishments, and what keeps them motivated in this busy, complicated world.
“Some of the best advice hurts,” Michelle Robinson says, honest as always about her experiences.
An industry veteran, Michelle has spent her entire career in consulting and client services, spending over 20 years in the field before joining RevGen Partners as Vice President of Client Success. Right away, she knew consulting was the path for her.
“I’m not sure I truly knew what consulting was until I started the role after I graduated college, but I loved it from the start. There have been flashy projects and basic projects, but the common theme is helping clients to be more successful and driving value for them at every turn.”
Consulting provided the opportunity to get glimpses of several industries and work with several companies. Unfortunately, one fact has remained true across her various projects. “I definitely noticed as I progressed through my career there were fewer women at senior levels.”
In 2021, the Fortune 500 had a record number of female chief executives. The new high? 41. The statistics improve when looking at overall companies, with the Bureau of Labor’s 2020 report estimating that women occupy about 29% of the chief executive roles in the US, up only 1.4% over the last five years. While the gap at the top is slowly narrowing, it still presents many challenges.
“Thankfully, I never felt like I had to ‘represent the whole gender’ but I am very aware when there are less women around the table. In those times, it is important to me to continue to be my authentic self by acting and speaking in the way I would, regardless of who is in the room. Where I have the influence and control, I do my best to work towards building a more diverse team.”
An expert in team building, Michelle is passionate about this point. “The best teams are diverse! Diversity in skillsets, gender, culture, experience, all of it. I try to share the importance of overall diversity with my leads and empower them to build their own teams with that same vision.”
Of course, she acknowledges that not every team gels right away. Michelle sees that as just another life lesson.
“It’s never fun to be a part of a less than ideal team situation, however a lot can be learned from it. I learned more about myself, how to treat others, and what leadership traits I wanted to embody — and which ones I didn’t.
“As a leader, it’s important to be honest with your team about the challenges in front of you, remain positive, even tempered, and treat people with respect, regardless of the circumstance. You will learn a lot about a leader and the one you want to become through a challenging situation.”
Michelle is no stranger to difficult experiences and digesting hard truths. “I was in between projects, pregnant with two kids at home, and worried where my next project would take me. I had established in my head the kind of role I wanted and the ones I didn’t. But only the roles I thought I didn’t want seemed to come my way, and as we all know, there are only so many roles you can pass on.
“I picked up my networking in search of the role I thought I wanted and met with a well-respected senior woman at my company. I shared with her the roles I had been presented and why I didn’t think they were a good fit. Honestly, these were exciting roles, great work, a great opportunity to grow in my career. What’s the problem, right? The roles all required travel, were going to be extremely challenging and I just wasn’t sure I had the energy to excel with a third child on the way.”
In the end, it came down to confidence.
“Long story short, she asked me ‘Can you do the role?’ Well, of course I could, but I was worried about the logistics. How were the demands of the role going to fit with my personal situation? She encouraged me to think about the now, not how challenging things could be in the future. And to definitely not remove myself from great opportunities.
“She didn’t coddle me or sympathize with me, but rather challenged me to be the best version of myself. While at the time I thought it was harsh, I look back at it as the most valuable piece of advice I have received. No matter how scary a role may seem, most of the time if someone has asked you to take it on, it is because you can do it.”
Those first days in a new role can be intimidating, but Michelle has plenty of them under her belt now. “Take it day by day, month by month, and the rest will play out the way it is supposed to.”
Michelle Robinson, RevGen’s Vice President of Client Success, believes that developing people and providing consistency, quality, and flexibility drives value for both our clients and our firm.
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