Leading the way: Meet the women at our roundtable

By Kitty McConnell & Mary Yost
Photos by Will Shilling and Tim Johnson

Women take various paths to executive leadership. Some are natural leaders, but most have to work at it, and sometimes it feels like they’re working harder than their male counterparts. That was the consensus of seven women brought together by Columbus CEO for a roundtable discussion about their journeys to executive ranks. Here, meet the women who participated.

Read more about the discussion & watch a video here.

Christine Merritt

Ohio Association of Broadcasters
President, 12 years

Previous:
Ohio Manufacturers' Association, managing director of project services, 10 years; Ohio Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the Ohio Small Business Council, 2 years; Ohio House of Representatives, legislative aide, 2 years

Education:
B.A. in political science; completed coursework for M.A. in political science, both at Ohio State University

Civic/Community:
Alliance for Women in Media board of directors; Broadcast Education Association board of directors; past president, National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations

Leadership style:
I try to lead by example and build consensus within a group—whether it's my board of directors, our staff, or a coalition effort. I think it's important to have a variety of perspectives/opinions represented, and to consider all available options when making decisions.

Proud accomplishment:
My kids (twin daughters)… They're just entering their teens, so I know we still have a lot of ups and downs ahead, but I'm so proud of them! They work hard in school and have outside activities that are helping them grow and mature. They are well-adjusted and they're fun to be with….My husband and I have tried our best to be engaged, consistent and supportive. There are so many pressures and challenges facing kids today—we hope the foundation we've built as a family will guide them through school and into their own careers.

Success secrets:
Work hard, be positive, keep things in perspective, listen to others, be organized. And, not a secret, but I'm fortunate to have a wonderful husband who has been incredibly supportive and encouraging throughout my career. He is my best friend, as well as my sounding board and counsel—listening to my ideas and frustrations, offering suggestions and feedback, and letting me know when I'm taking myself too seriously.

Best advice received:
Not exactly advice, but my parents instilled in me an expectation to work hard, be disciplined and respectful. These were with me in my first part-time job and continue to guide me today.

Advice for aspiring leaders:
Ask questions and listen; be confident and carry yourself with confidence (even if you don't feel it!); ask for feedback and be willing to change; try not to burn bridges; don't forget to say "thank you."

Life’s dream versus professional reality:
I didn't have a specific career dream when I was growing up. I imagined myself in a job that wasn't just a paycheck, but work that I was committed to and enjoyed. I've been very fortunate that the positions in my professional career have allowed me to learn and grow, and I've tried to take full advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me.