The Shine Factor: Female Leaders on Helping Women Rise

City scape with building shining with bright lights

Photo Credit: Christian Becker on Unsplash

The Shine Theory is the belief that when a woman helps another woman rise, we all shine. There has been a scarcity of women in top leadership positions in the corporate world, so many women have traditionally been taught to be competitive with one another. However, we’re now seeing a growing theme of collaboration over competition. Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, sat down with Pam Kaufman, President of Viacom/Nickelodeon Global Consumer Products, and Rachel Tipograph, CEO and Founder of MikMak, in the Girls’ Lounge at Ana Masters of Marketing. Here is their advice on how to help other women rise up, because we’re stronger together.
Shelley: What woman has helped you rise or have you helped rise?
Rachel: The impetus for my company came from my last job. I used to run global digital at Gap. I bring that up because one of the women who has helped me rise and who I feel I have helped rise is Tricia Nichols, now SVP of consumer marketing at Estee Lauder. When I started, my boss told me he was looking for an amazing woman to run media at Gap, and I recommended Tricia and she got the job…we divided and conquered at Gap and together figured out how the organization worked. Collectively we knew if we helped each other push through plans, we’d both be advancing our careers at the same time. Today we’re good friends, have traveled to four continents together, and she is an investor in my company.
Pam: In terms of moving other women forward, I find that almost every day I meet with women across the company who are having children and who are struggling with work-life balance. They’re so confused because they love their job, their team, and what the company does. Yet they now have this added responsibility and this conflict that they never thought would happen. It is my job to help them think through that, and help them have a flexible work life and a path to move forward.

Pam Kaufman, Rachel Tipograph and Shelley Zalis in the Girls’ Lounge.

Shelley: Change is scary. How do you encourage other women to be bold and brave and fearless?
Rachel: I ask them, ‘What risk can you afford to take, and what is the worst-case scenario?’ For me, it was that mindset that I’m going to quit my cushy corporate job to start this new company, because I feel strongly that is where the world is heading. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get another job leading ecommerce at another corporate company. That didn’t seem like the worst thing in the world.
Shelley: How did you find that confidence?
Pam: It’s people like you and many other people I’ve observed in the industry that have inspired me to be more confident and trust my gut…you look around you and you see a lot of people killing it in a variety of ways. Then you start forming this amazing group of advisors, people you want to model and who encourage you to just go for it, and you get this confidence to move forward.
Shelley: What are you looking for in a mentee?
Rachel: I’ve never found mentorship to be that formal. For me, it’s been about human relationships. If you connect with someone, ultimately you want to help each other, and it’s a value exchange
Shelley: What is the best advice you’ve received?
Rachel: I was trying to get a deal done with someone who was not getting back to me, and so I turned to a friend who is the chief of staff to an individual who I think is one of the best deal makers in business. I asked her how he gets those deals. She said, “He just shows up like he was invited.” I liked that concept, and so I sniffed around to find out where this individual would be next. Then showed up at the event he was at like I was invited. I talked to him for 30 minutes, and now it’s going to turn into something incredible for my company.
Shelley: How do we encourage collaboration over competition and make us all shine brighter?
Pam: It’s about advocating for each other, and being vocal and visible about it. It’s making sure you’re really recognizing your team members, and making space for everyone in the room. Help show people on your teams how to advocate for each other.
You can watch the full panel discussion here.
For more inspiration from female leaders, check out:
Why These Feminine Traits Are Your Leadership Superpowers
7 Things No One Tells You About Mentorship
Women Rising: How To Succeed In Male-Dominated Industries