Stefani Szczechowski, Regional Sales Manager-Southern California, has over 12 years of experience in the lighting industry. She has worked at Acuity Brands for five years. We sat down with Stefani to discuss the biggest challenges women face in the workplace and advice she has for other women.
I started in the lighting industry right out of college in a sales training program for a competitor in the building management system space. It’s been twelve years and I’m still here. With new technologies emerging, it’s a very exciting field to be in. Advice Stefani gives to women is to be confident! “Words matter. Be direct, especially in email. Avoid wishy washy language like 'just' and 'I think' that downplays your message.”
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing female leaders today?
“The biggest challenge facing female leaders today is the lack of female leaders. In last year’s Fortune 500 list, only 33, or 6.6% of companies are led by female CEOs. It’s the most ever, but it’s still very disproportionate. Similarly, women hold only 25% of Fortune 500 board seats. It continues to be an uphill battle for women to climb the corporate ladder, be promoted to these positions of power and break into the boys’ club. Companies and the world would be better off with more females in leadership roles.”
What is one mistake you witness female leaders making more frequently than others?
“Let’s flip this question. I can’t envision someone asking, 'What is one mistake you see male leaders making?' The problem lies right there. Don’t stereotype.”
Why is it important to have male allies on your leadership journey?
“Strong men empower women, lift women up (figuratively), and celebrate women’s accomplishments. My work team is comprised of all men. They are my wolfpack! I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Thank you for being a trailblazer, Stefani, and helping us Light the Way to a Brilliant, Productive, and Connected World!