SBM Articles


Women Leaders: Susan Conrad, Eicon Partners

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?
Not in a thousand years! I thought my job was to be the “expert” in everything and to have “the answer”. I’d tell my younger self to focus more on (1) understanding how real value is created (for all stakeholders) and (2) building strong, enduring relationships. The opportunities and challenges will change, but these two focus areas will serve you well in any environment.

Who inspires you and why? What is your most valued attribute in the leaders you respect or mentors you have had?
I’m inspired by authentic leaders who are committed to building environments where both business and people thrive. They have clarity of purpose, exceptional communication skills and compassion. (Afterall, aren’t we all people working with people?) I’ve been fortunate to work alongside several leaders who have done this exceptionally well - including my dad, Jan Torrisi-Mokwa, John Jordan, Jeff Cook, Gene Diederich, Bob Chapman, Rusty Keeley, Marc Braun, Doug Eisenhart, John Kramer, Meg Brown, Marcia Niedringhaus, and MaryJo Gorman.

What did it take in order to trust yourself to step into leadership?
I remember hesitating at first and then realizing, if I didn’t step into the role, who would? Fortunately, there were plenty of people on my personal “advisory board” to provide honest feedback and encouragement along the way. I believe my leadership skills were/are built in the doing (succeeding and failing).

Have you experienced any hardships and how did you overcome the obstacles? When did you know, the business was going to make it?
Two of the largest hardships I experienced were (1) the real estate bust of 2008/2009. I started my real estate development and management firm about 10 years earlier [EICON Properties] and we were busy developing projects for entrepreneurial business owners. The market came to a screeching halt and (2) the pandemic impacted our consulting business [Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute] in the same way - our work and pipeline either paused or evaporated as our delivery model was 99% in person. In both cases - we had to pivot quickly in order to survive. We needed to identify new ways to create real value for our clients (their needs changed, and we needed to respond in new and innovative ways) It took almost a year (in both cases) before we started to know we had real traction and were on the right path. There were several experiments we ran quickly to determine what was most valuable, replicable and scalable.

What do you attribute your success to? Secret to your success…
My ability to build meaningful relationships and identify connections that create value for everyone involved (2+2 = 10). I am by no means the smartest person - just fortunate to work alongside incredible people who are inspired to achieve more together.

What advice would you give other local women leaders?
Let go of the terms “imposter syndrome” and “work-life balance.” Our growth and development comes in the doing - in every position at every level. Even the most “expert” people are in a position of inexperience - that’s where the experience comes from. Say yes more than you say no. And as for work-life balance - there is no such thing. We have one life to make intentional choices personally and professionally. Some seasons are more intense in one area than the other. The goal is to optimize both so they work in harmony for you based on your values, passion, vision and definition of success. 

Join the GRIT Community:
A professional women’s group that provides
support, encouragement, and tools for
women to thrive.

Jennifer Bardot (, or
314-630-1451) is CEO and Founder of G.R.I.T. Community For Women.

Marianne Biangardi ( or 314-322-4871) is Sr. Associate, Marketing and Business Development, at UHY LLP.


Submitted 300 days ago
Categories: categoryManagement categoryWomen Leaders
Views: 647