Life is a bundle of choices. As women, we make choices every day under the pressures of life, unfortunately many of which have collectively given us a bad reputation. Some choose to be competitive with other women instead of congratulating each other for our successes. Some choose to let others affect our self-esteem with harsh words and hidden meanings. Some choose to settle for careers that squash our talents instead of fighting for a challenge. But what if we could simplify? What if we could find trust, strength and empowerment our female colleagues, and learn to rely on each other rather than pulling rank?
Elizabeth Millen, Pink's Publisher, and I had the privilege of connecting with ten fabulous women, who hold various positions at various experience levels, at the corporate office of Hargray for a little chick-chat. As everyone settled in, getting coffee and fruit, we sat back and listened to the chatter typical of a room filled with 13 women. "I love that bag!" . "I got it last year, on sale, thank God." . "I have my grandma sandals on, had I known we were taking pictures I would have worn my cute heels!" We giggled at the chitchat and wondered exactly how interviewing ten women at once was going to work. But as we began our conversation with these competent ladies, we observed the congeniality fade away and the true spirit and support of this amazing team shine through. Besides their normal tasks of excelling in the workplace, these businesswomen have managed to maintain a healthy balance of work, family, and mutual respect with the other women in their company.
Q: Ladies, tell me a little about your roles at Hargray and how you got to where you are.
Tracy, Major Customer Account Manager, Business Sales: I came from a 14-year career in the NFL, which was, needless to say, a very male dominated environment. It's nice to be in a place where there is a strong support system of women."
Gwynne, Director of Operations: "I have moved up several positions since I have been with Hargray. I am now in charge of 60 technicians, only one of which is a woman. Sometimes I have to use a little psychology to 'boss' the men around," she said with a wink and a smile.
Q: How have you been personally impacted by another woman at Hargray?
Jamila, Lead Plant Coordinator: "Gwynne helped me a lot in my transition to Plant Coordinator. She has been very inspirational to me and many other people."
Andrea, Marketing Communications Coordinator: "I think Marie (Technical Project Manager) is very inspirational. She is knowledgeable in a way I can't wrap my mind around. You can always count on her to be the person in I.T. who will fix whatever is broken. She inspires me to be more conscientious in my work."
Q: How does having a strong team of women around you empower or motivate you?
Deborah, Sales and Support Center Manager: Hargray is one huge team. Our jobs intertwine every day and depend on each other.When you have a question about something you usually go to a friend you can trust. I know that I can go to any of these women here. To keep up with changes you have to have someone you can lean on, and for women, that tends to be other women."
Andrea: I came here straight out of college, a starry-eyed artist and writer who wanted to learn about being a business person and an empowered adult woman. These women I work with are amazing. I see them taking care of their families, themselves, and the business, and observing the way they balance it all has made me a better woman."
Q: What are you most proud of in working for Hargray?
Sharon, Hilton Head Island Retail Representative: "I am proud that the company does a lot to make sure Latin American individuals can communicate with Hargray." (Sharon speaks five languages!)
Tracy: "I am proud to be in an organization that gives back to the community through programs such as Caring Coins, the Heritage Golf Tournament, school booster clubs and so many more charities and events. I think the support we give to the community is the reason why the community also openly supports us."
Lisa, Special Sections Coordinator, Data Publishing: "I am proud to be a part of putting out the most complete and accurate directory possible, with less than a one percent error rate."
Q: How has working for Hargray allowed you to grow and use your talents?
Andrea: "My passions are as a writer, artist, and public speaker. A couple years ago I took on a challenge to create a training program, which is something a Marketing Communications Coordinator normally wouldn't do. It was amazing because I was able to use my talents to plan the program, put it together and watch it come to life, without being micro-managed. You don't find that very many places."
Kim, Graphics Copy Editor: "I left the company a few years ago and came back because where I went did not offer me the opportunity to take my job and run with it. There is no fear for me here. If I make a mistake, it's a learning tool and an opportunity to get better, not a punishment. Hargray welcomes people back; when you're part of the family, you're always part of the family."
Gwynne: "We have always been on the cutting edge of technology, and the spirit of the company is that we don't have to be afraid to act. I feel empowered to make big decisions every day. Everyone has a pioneering spirit that allows us to take risks that normally wouldn't be taken."
Q: Any closing thoughts?
Tracy: All of us have trying days, but our jobs are challenging, and they are something we enjoy. The women in here have helped me tremendously and given me a wonderful support system to lean on."
Andrea: "I don't feel like a woman in my job, I feel like a highly valued person.and that is a great feeling!"
For 60 years the Lowcountry has had a reliable, local partner in Hargray, but little did we know that behind the scenes was a group of women finding their own local, reliable partners to lean on, depend on, learn and gain support from. These are the women of Hargray, simplifying their lives, one connection at a time.