KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s an age old question: Can women really have it all?
The debate heated up once again after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer returned to work shortly after having a baby, then made several much-talked-about policies about working at home and maternity leave.
Three powerful and successful local women, Susan Packard, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Cynthia Moxley, know a thing or two about the subject. We wanted to find out their secrets to success, more about their families and advice they have for young women entering the workforce.
The three women have impressive resumes and enlightening stories to tell about early days of their careers.
“I was a really good journalist,” said public relations executive Cynthia Moxley. “I think I had a reputation of being tough. I covered business and politics and my nickname, I was told some time later, was The Assassin.”
Moxley is now half of the powerhouse public relations firm Moxley Carmichael. She started the company when she got out of journalism in the early 1990s. Several years later, she and her husband joined forces.
“We waited a year before we changed the name to make sure it would work out,” Moxley said, laughing.
She says the way she conducted business as a reporter and the first female city editor of the Knoxville Journal in the 1980s helped set the stage for the success she’s having today.
She also says women should keep in mind, whether it’s social media, your first job, or even an internship, you are a brand.
“You have to be honest,” she said. “I think you have to shoot straight and have credibility and integrity no matter what business you go into.”
Most of Madeline Rogero’s career has been in the Knoxville area, but it didn’t start out that way.
“I started working with farmers in California,” Rogero said.
Her next step led to positions with several East Tennessee non-profit organizations, including the Dollywood Foundation.
More than a decade ago, she started working in various roles in city and county government. She was elected as Knoxville’s first female mayor in November 2011.
Rogero says she is often asked for advice, and she says one thing rings true.
“This one young man came and said, ‘I want to be mayor one day,'” Rogero explained. “I said, ‘Get involved in the community. That’s how you prepare yourself.'”
Successful CEO Susan Packard helped launch cable networks CNBC and HGTV. She also shares some good advice.
Packard says knowing the value of audience input, or who you are working for, is invaluable.
She described the early days of HGTV, saying, “We also had a call center. At the call center we would ask, ‘What do you think? Give us feedback?’ So [the viewers] had ownership of the channel.”
HGTV quickly grew from 5-6 million households to now reaching nearly 100 million.
“We very quickly got the word back that it was addicting,” Packard said. “This was word we heard the first couple of years. ‘This channel is addicting!’ So we knew we were on to something!”
Today Packard travels the country as part of the Washington Speaker’s Bureau and she’s writing her first book.
She describes the book as a tool box for women to get to “the corner office.” To get there, she says, she had to make a lot of tough choices.
Her husband became a stay-at-home dad for their son. Packard is quick to point out, however, she was there too for many incredible moments at home.
“I saw his first steps. How cool was that? And I will never forget that.”
“All of life is trade off,” she added. “You can’t be everywhere at the same time.”
We asked all the women about their choices concerning family and career.
Moxley does not have children. Rogero and her husband have five children.
“I think we can have it all, not always at the same time,” Mayor Rogero said. “When my kids were younger I was home with them for a few years.”
“You can have it all,” Moxley said. “I’m not sure you both can have it all, unless you are extremely wealthy.”
“Maybe I thought in the beginning I could do it all, but it was quickly evident to me that you need help,” Packard said. “You can’t do it all yourself.”