Hello SOTGC community,
Today we have the honor of learning more about the amazing Marilyn Nagel who is the CEO of Watermark. I went to my first Watermark event when I got an email from a friend saying that Pamela Ryckman (The author of Stiletto Network and whom I interviewed on SOTGC) was coming to speak. So that day I bought a plane ticket, texted a friend to see if I could come and visit her as well, and a week later I was meeting some of the wonderful members of Watermark. My call with Marilyn was phenomenal, one of those calls where you could sit and have that conversation for hours. Anyone who gets an opportunity to speak with her at one of the Watermark events, or the privilege of interviewing her, is in for a real treat and some wonderful insights into business, inclusion and diversity.
About Watermark: Our mission is to increase the representation of women in leadership roles by empowering them to make their mark in and for their companies, their careers and their communities.
The lady with the vision: Marilyn joined Watermark as CEO in 2011, leading strategic initiatives designed to help exceptional women in the Bay Area enhance their personal and professional impact. As CEO of Watermark, Marilyn fulfills her passion for gender diversity by promoting inclusive, diverse and well-balanced workplaces. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of gender equality and women’s board access, as well as a blogger for Huffington Post and several other publications.
Prior to joining Watermark, Marilyn was Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at Cisco. Prior to joining Cisco, Marilyn worked in academia, leadership development and organizational development for nearly 30 years, in both the private non-profit sectors, and for Fortune 100 companies. Marilyn holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Administration, and has an additional master’s degree in Social and Systemic Studies.
Watching the video on the Watermark website I was moved by the quote that Marilyn ends with: “Do your part, make your mark, and keep this conversation alive.”
Marney: Marilyn thank you so much for taking time with me today so the SOTGC community can learn about the wonderful support that Watermark provides to career women in the Bay Area. What drew you to Watermark and why this particular organization to “make your mark” on?
Marilyn: I was a sponsor of Watermark when I was CDO at Cisco so knew the great value offered and was able to see it from the perspective of sponsor members who had a hard time making it to events. I also felt I could leverage my executive development background to enhance existing programs as well as develop new offerings. We also brought back our popular speaker series and modified locations and start times to make the programs and events more user friendly for working women.
Marney: If you could describe the Watermark woman in 5 adjectives, what would those be, based on your interaction and seeing the organization grow?
- Supportive (of other women and people in general – paying it forward)
- Fun – (doesn’t take self too seriously)
- Amazing – in what they have accomplished and continue to do
Marney: What 3 things have you seen change and progress since you’ve been part of Watermark?
- The trend of women supporting women is gaining tremendous traction and Watermark is a good example of women going out of their way to assist, support, provide advice and back it up with action. It always amazes me that the members go out of their way to support one another in all kinds of ways from sending meals to a member in chemo, to helping get internships for nieces, to finding new roles, new team members etc.
- Greater recognition that there are more than the same 6-8 women who are making a huge difference in leadership, more success stories, more women in top visible roles. It is wonderful to see new faces on the cover of magazines in place of the same 6 women we may not relate to.
- Women are being more active advocates for having a voice in STEM, in conferences, in representation on leadership teams and boards, and as business leaders and consumers.
Marney: If you were to give the young woman (20s and 30s) 3 of your best business tips, what would they be?
- Build your network with men and women who can help you achieve your career goals, working hard and doing well, your network will support your career growth, and the higher you go in an organization, the more critical your network is to your and your team’s success.
- Get a sponsor who will open doors for you and actively advocate on your behalf.
- Take risks and play outside your comfort zone. Don’t wait to be recognized or invited, ask to attend meetings to listen in and learn, volunteer to present to senior groups, take on roles you have not done before and ask for the pay that goes with the position, not your experience.
Marney: If you could give the young woman (20s and 30s) 3 of your best life lessons, what would they be?
- Be yourself,
- Learn from mistakes and move on quickly, (don’t beat yourself up or overanalyze)
- Play to your strength’s rather than trying to be great at everything
Marney: What do women need to be doing more of, to continue the progress we’re making in the business world?
Marilyn: Speak up when things are not right or someone is ignored because they are a minority, use our economic power and ability to influence, actively and most importantly publicly support one another!
Marney: What have you seen women doing more of in the past 5 years, that makes you proud and gives you hope for the progress we’re making for women in business?
Marilyn: Women are taking more risks, and asking for what they need in terms of flexibility, and of course being publicly supportive of one another. The millennial generation grew up with working mothers and has learned from them to go for what they want, while maintaining balance.
Marney: What is your mantra?
Marilyn: “Life works” – you may not realize it in the moment, but things work out for the best in the long run. We learn from every experience good and bad, so don’t be thrown by the bumps in the road.
Well thank you so much Marilyn. For your time, for your words of wisdom, and for “doing your part, making your mark, and allowing us in on this wonderful conversation.”