SBM Articles


Women Leaders - Susan McLaughlin

by Marianne Biangardi and Jennifer Bardot

When you began your career did you ever imagine you would have a leadership role like you have now? What advice would you give your younger self?
Yes, I did imagine having a leadership role when I began my career. The combination of proactive goal setting, intentional self-development, focus on developing strong interpersonal skills, and commitment to building a network early in my career have helped me to achieve the leadership roles I envisioned. It is important to focus on networking to help you learn from others, stay current on industry trends and open opportunities for career advancement. Start early and be intentional about developing a diverse and supportive network.

Who inspires you and why? What is your most valued attribute in the leaders you respect or mentors you have had?
I am inspired by the Jackie Robinsons and Ruth Bader Ginsburgs. These figures are known for their courage, resilience and trailblazing efforts in breaking down barriers. As for the most valued attribute in leaders and mentors, trailblazing is an admirable and important quality. Leaders who have the courage to innovate and persevere, challenge the status quo, and think and see differently can inspire others to do the same. Creative problem solving is also a valuable attribute in leaders, as it can lead to new solutions and approaches that may not have been considered before.

What did it take to trust yourself to step into leadership?
Observing and absorbing helped me to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives, which expanded my knowledge and resulted in a well-rounded leadership style. Failing and prevailing helped to build my resilience and problem-solving skills as well as a deeper understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. Building self-trust is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, reflection and a willingness to take risks and learn from mistakes. By giving myself the respect and time to learn and grow, I developed the confidence and skills needed to step into a leadership role.

Have you experienced any hardships and how did you overcome the obstacles. When did you know that the business was going to make it?
I faced a variety of challenges in my career and have developed a proactive and solution-focused approach to overcoming them. Focusing on what is most important helped me to prioritize my actions and make strategic decisions that benefit my company, employees and customers. Being adaptable and flexible in my approach is also important, as solutions may need to be adjusted or modified based on feedback or new information. I knew our software start-up was going to make it when we signed a multi-year agreement with a large enterprise company. This kind of partnership provided a reliable source of revenue, served as a valuable reference for prospects, demonstrated the value of the product and service, and contributed to a positive reputation in the industry.

To what do you attribute your success?
I wish there was a secret to success—we would bottle and monetize it. Belief in oneself, adaptability and a commitment to lifelong learning are important qualities that contribute to success. Having a strong support system in the form of family and friends can also provide a sense of balance and perspective and help you to maintain a positive outlook during challenging times. Success is not a one-time achievement, but rather an ongoing process of growth and development. Finally, I ask myself why success is so important. One of the most gratifying parts of success is the ability to pay it forward. Sharing knowledge and mentoring others not only benefits those around you, but also provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

What advice would you give other local women leaders?
The advice I would give other local women leaders is, “Reflect before responding.” This can be especially valuable in leadership positions, as it allows you to consider multiple perspectives and make more thoughtful decisions. It is important to be open to new ideas and approaches and to continuously seek out opportunities for learning and improvement. Overall, being thoughtful, maintaining a sense of humor and embracing opportunities for growth can be valuable traits for women leaders.

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Jennifer Bardot ( or
314-630-1451) is an Associate Director, Health & Benefits for WTW

Marianne Biangardi ( or 314-322-4871) is Business Development Manager for Schmersahl Treloar, CPAs


Submitted 364 days ago
Categories: categoryManagement
Views: 660