EQUALITY IMPACT AWARD WINNER: ANGELA Gruszka
Historically and notoriously unequal, the tech industry has already come a long way in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion. Much of this success has been due to the amazing women and female-identifying people that break glass ceilings everyday.
In honor of these women and in celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, BounceX launched The Equality Impact Awards, awarded to an honorary group of women in the tech, publishing and retail industries, each of whom has broken barriers, changed their companies for the better and fought for equality and gender parity.
Today, we honor one of our 2018 winners, Angela Gruszka, VP of Marketing and Creative at ABC Carpet & Home. Angela answered 5 questions about the state of equality in the industry. Take a look!
WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN YOUR FIELD?
Below are some of the strategies I’ve learned from experience and applied throughout my career. I believe that we need to work together to inspire and cultivate a community of strong and resilient women to fight for equality.
- Be confident and self-aware: Fighting for equality starts with knowing who you are and believing in yourself. Self-awareness and assurance will enable you to rise above the noise and provide you with the confidence necessary to defend your perspective. You are in control of your own destiny and you can shape your future.
- Have a voice and be heard: It is important to stand up for what you believe in and communicate your point of view. Don’t be afraid to speak up when the time is right.
- Be fearless and take risks: Complacency does not breed success. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation or try something new – and most importantly do not fear failure. We can learn a lot from our mistakes. Fail fast and move forward.
- Know your limits and set boundaries: All too often we have the tendency to take on more than we can handle and we end up suffering in the end. It is essential to set boundaries and recognize when too much is enough.
- Take the emotion out of the equation: As women, sometimes our emotions get the best of us, however when it comes to business, it’s important to put your emotions aside. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, be aware of your sensitivities and recognize criticism as constructive, not personal. Lastly, never lose your composure, even when times are tough.
- Lead and they will follow: It is our job as leaders to teach, mentor, and inspire the next generation by sharing our experiences and wisdom. It takes a village to move mountains and with each other we can provoke change.
WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB WHEN YOU WERE IN COLLEGE, AND HOW HAS THAT EVOLVED?
When I was in high school, I became focused on having a career in advertising in New York City. I grew up in a small suburb of Detroit, Michigan and my connections in New York City were non-existent. I knew I had to hustle if I was going to make my dream a reality. It was long before LinkedIn existed so I spent hours in AOL chat rooms and on Instant Messenger trying to establish a network of professional contacts, and began attending Detroit Advertising Association meetings. At one of the DAA meetings, a female CEO of one of the world’s most prominent advertising agencies spoke. I left inspired by her role as a powerful and successful female in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Not only did her presentation leave a lasting impression on me, it solidified my decision to pursue a career in advertising with the hopes of one day holding an executive role. I studied advertising in college and spent my summers interning at agencies in New York City. Following graduation I moved to New York City with the intention of securing my dream agency job. While I was interviewing, I took a temp position in Public Relations on the brand-side, which ultimately became my permanent role. To this day, I have remained on the brand-side and eventually transitioned from communications to marketing. Even though I never spent time on the agency-side, I have had the opportunity over the years develop many campaigns, from the brand strategy to the creative direction and the execution, which has been incredibly rewarding.
WHAT IS THE WORST DECISION YOU’VE EVER MADE? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
I can’t really think of any decision that stands out as my worst decision. I try to learn from all my decisions, regardless if they are good or bad. One decision I made that is relevant to the topic of female empowerment is that I waited 6 years after I got married to have my first child. I put it off because I was afraid that having a child would get in the way of my career. I now have two children and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve learned that it is all about balance and time management. Having children has taught me how to manage my time and priorities more effectively. I think this is an important topic because many women choose not pursue executive roles or are not considered for executive roles because of their choice to have a family. There are situations when you have to make sacrifices with both your family and your professional life, however, with the right amount of integration and support, I believe it is possible for women to have it all.
WHAT RITUALS OR HABITS DO YOU HAVE FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO HAVE A KICK A$$ DAY?
WHAT DOES FEMALE EMPOWERMENT MEAN TO YOU?
As female leaders we need to inspire and support each other as well as the next generation to be confident and strong, to have a voice, take risks and follow our passions and dreams. Better together than apart – with the power of community we can break through barriers and create disruption.