Spotlighting Women in Business: Matlock Client, Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America, LLC.
As consummate professionals, we learn from them every day. However, we have never taken the opportunity to learn how they came to be great Clients, Colleagues, Mentors, etc.
Today we feature Trudy Hardy, Department Head, BMW Marketing Communications and Consumer Events, BMW of North America, LLC. Our CEO, Kent Matlock, describes Trudy as bright, talented, and one of the hardest working professionals in the business!”
QUESTION 1: As a child what did you want to “be” when you grew up?
Trudy Hardy (TH): Well, as a young child, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. I was very serious about this goal and was heartbroken that my mother didn’t take my ambition seriously. In fact, she refused to buy me an actual Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader costume. So, I decided to make my own: consisting of the shorts, a blue shirt, and the vest. Also, since I didn’t have any white boots, I wore my brown snow boots….which looked ridiculous!
While I had distinct goals, my mother guessed my correct career path. She stated that I was the ONLY kid who had no desire to watch cartoons; however, I’d stop what I was doing to watch commercials, particular ones with jingles. She stated she could only see two clear paths for me: marketing, based on the interest in commercials or law, based on my desire to argue.
QUESTION 2: Later in high school and college, was marketing your “chosen” career?
TH: No, in fact I went to college to be an accountant as I always excelled at math. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I took a marketing class and became inspired. Based on this class I added an extra semester of college and graduated with a double major of accounting and marketing.
My first job after college was a marketing role for a financial software product, which I thought was perfect for me. However, this was a boring job and I quickly learned that I wanted bigger and better marketing challenges.
QUESTION 3: If you had not chosen this career path, what do you think you would be doing now?
TH: I’d definitely be an accountant.
QUESTION 4: How do you balance being a mother and a business leader?
TH: I believe having children influenced my career path. Based on their ages and needs, I made sure I was able to find roles where I could be there for my kids. As my kids got older, it got easier, and that was when I was able to take on more and more responsibilities.
QUESTION 5: Is it hard to find time for a personal life with family and friends?
I think so, definitely more difficult than finding time for my family and work. I always tell my kids you better love your job because the truth is, you will spend more time at work with your colleagues, than you will with family.
Again, as my kids have grown older (now 14 and 20 years old respectively), I have taken on more responsibility. So my personal time/life is more sacrificed than anything else. But luckily, I love my job and my team.
QUESTION 6: Do you see your kids wanting to follow in your footsteps?
TH: Interestingly, my daughter recently took a professional test that based on your answers, calculates your assumed profession. Based on her scores it was recommended that she should be in Marketing/Management, which she was very excited to learn!
My son wants to be in the automotive industry, but he wants to be a racer, on a race team or a professional driver. We have agreed that he can pursue this career as long as he gets a college degree to fall back on, so he is currently studying sports management.
QUESTION 7: Have you ever felt denied a role/promotion based on your gender? If so, can you share?
TH: Actually no. I have felt fortunate to really know my strengths, core skill sets, and my boundaries. Using this, I have found roles where I fit and have been happy to excel. I think women in more male dominated roles including engineering probably have it tougher, but BMW is an equal opportunity corporation and I have always felt needed.
QUESTION 8: Have you ever felt you were at an advantage over others, based on your gender?
TH: It’s sad to say, but in many cases, it can be an advantage being a strong woman in business. I find that working for large corporations or businesses, we are under the microscope to have a diverse workforce. Particularly in the automotive business, where the ratio of men to women is generally higher, it could be an advantage for a woman.
However, I strongly believe that the right person for the job should be chosen, regardless of gender. What I have a big problem with is when I hear other women use their gender for personal advantage. I once heard a colleague say “I can say that as a woman, but you can’t say that as a man.” Why?? I’m sorry but I don’t think anyone should be able to play both sides – if you want to be treated equally; you have to treat everyone equally.
QUESTION 9: In your role, you supervise a large team of direct employees as well as many partner advertising teams. Do you find there are differences in how men and women work? Do you see any key comparison/contrasts in how each handle situations or excel in certain areas?
TH: Definitely! Women are more emotional! However, this statement is both a positive and a negative – a double edged sword. If emotions are channeled in a positive way, this will be shown in being passionate for your work. However, if channeled negatively, emotions can be a woman’s downfall. I often tell my female team members “Say what you need to say but do so without the emotional tie-in.” By taking out the emotion, you are simply presenting the facts, which is important in presenting your case.
QUESTION 10: In mentoring your team, do you see in any differences now from when you were in their roles?
TH: Absolutely, I can see myself in them and remember how it felt in particular stages. It really teaches you a lot. I think I’ve learned more from what I didn’t like in certain past supervisors/bosses than anything else. Remembering key insights from both good and bad supervisors has really taught me how best to train and mold my team.
QUESTION 11: Last question, there is a growing concern that fewer senior roles are going to women. Do you feel there is a “Glass Ceiling” and if so, as a glass breaker, do you have any thoughts on this concern/issue?
TH: I find that women in general are better in balancing what they want out of career and personal life. Most women are aware that with advancement comes sacrifice and therefore determine their own ‘ceiling’. In fact, on my team, I can say that 8 out of 10 women would NOT want to have my job. These women, in particular, have aggressively worked to find the best career opportunity where they can have successful careers and happy family lives, with boundaries between the two and limited sacrifices. Men usually do not have to find this balance, although this is changing and I feel everyone must decide how high is high enough? I think most people would say a better balance of life and work is more important than the stress and exhaustion that is needed to handle the job above the glass. I encourage everyone to really think to themselves, “How high is high enough?”