In celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Shelly Weiss Storbeck, Executive Managing Director and leader of the Education practice for the Diversified Search Group, to learn more about a leader who inspires her, impactful advice from a mentor, and what Women’s History Month means to her. Read her inspirational answers below:
Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why?
I will always feel inspired by Pat McPherson, the former president of Bryn Mawr College, where I did my master’s degree, former VP of the Mellon Foundation, and former president of the American Philosophical Society. She led Bryn Mawr with vision, energy, and humor. She worked constantly, but she balanced work with a healthy lifestyle.
Every summer, for years, she would walk across the Cotswolds with friends. In an attempt to pull a joke on her (which she always loved), Haverford’s former president and I tried to have her arrested for trespassing by the local constable.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Value work/life balance more. The last year has shown us that nonstop consultant travel no longer has to be a requirement of the job. The technology exists to avoid being on trains/planes/buses 5 days a week!
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Try many things to see where your skills and passions lie. Failure teaches you a lot, much more than success.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
Work in an environment where you are always learning. Complacency is truly the death of a career.
What advice did you receive from a mentor during your career?
When I was trying to establish my own company, so many people were generous with ideas for contractors, payroll, etc. Still, the best advice came from a development consultant who told me: “It does not need to come together all at once. Take it one step at a time.” Boy, was she right!
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
To me, it’s about celebrating the often-buried accomplishments of women. In a practical way, it is about how women’s work is undervalued, as long as we have pay disparity. Many women work at our firm, and I hope that this work empowers them to own their own homes, afford childcare, and have the resources they need to make decisions and control their own futures.