Speak Up, Success Will Follow
Tricia Kagerer is the Executive Vice President of Risk Management at Jordan Foster Construction, an advocate for gender equality in the workplace, and an accomplished author. She published the “Wise Irish Women” in 2012 and she recently published a book that focuses on helping to empowering women in the workplace – “The B Words: 13 Words Every Woman Must Navigate for Success.”
Tricia started working in risk management early in her career, at a factory that produced stone washed jeans. When she noticed that several employees were reporting back injuries, she went out to the production floor to investigate. She discovered that the pallet jacks used to remove the box of massive rocks from under the machines were broken. As a result, the employees were getting on their hands and knees to manually remove the rocks and straining their backs. Tricia asked the maintenance manager to repair the pallet jacks which eliminated the exposure to back injuries. This simple fix protected the health of the employees and solved a major workplace issue. Soon after, Tricia was offered a promotion to safety manager.
“When I discovered there was such a thing as a safety career, I fell in love with it and I worked hard to pursue my certifications to become a safety professional."
The Importance of Balance
Tricia's passion and hard work led to a successful career in Risk Management. Still, no matter how much she loves what she does professionally, Tricia believes that having time for family and health is extremely important. She realized this early on while she was raising young children while her husband was living in Germany.
Tricia found she could still be successful at work without sacrificing personal time with her husband and children. She approached her employer and negotiated for a flexible work schedule to make that happen. This was back in the early 2000’s when flexible work arrangements were virtually nonexistent.
Tricia realizes that being clear on what a woman needs and asking for it may not come naturally for women. This is why she lends her voice in a form of a written word—to encourage women to speak up to advance, rather than going along with status quo.
“Women don't necessarily ask for what they need during the interview process because they tend to feel grateful for being hired. Women often tell themselves I’m lucky to be getting an offer in the first place.’ When women get clear on what they need and what they have to offer and have the courage to ask for it, women advance because of it.”
A Diverse Table With a Voice
"One of the easiest ways to change bias is to get out in your community and surround yourself with different people and get a different perspective."
Tricia writes in her new book “The B Words.” If the table consists of homogenous people who come from similar backgrounds, then their perspective will be limited. When the table is filled with employees from different backgrounds, that's when you get diverse perspectives and innovation thrives.
However, even though more women are joining predominantly male work environments, especially in STEM fields, they don't always have a voice. It isn’t enough to simply get a few more women to the table. Employers need to make sure that female perspectives are also respected and heard.
Tricia acknowledges that this is not easy to do. Change is difficult to accept, especially for men who historically dominated these work environments. That is why Tricia's book provides helpful guides for employees and employers who find themselves in those situations.
"Every chapter has a breakthrough because I don’t like to present problems without solutions."
Flexible Journey Toward Success
Tricia remembers the first time she was introduced as a writer. It happened at a work conference, where she was discussing whether she should write her first book “Wise Irish Women” with a friend. When they approached a group Tricia didn’t know, her friend introduced her. “This is Tricia. She’s a writer.” Just like that, to these people, she was now a writer. It was now out in the world.
"When you tell people what your dream is and you have the courage to speak it out loud, I believe that all the sudden, it starts to happen. But if you never tell a soul your dream stays as in the ‘I wish’ category. ‘I wish I had written a book, I wish I’d learned to golf,’ whatever that may be. When you share your dream out loud it becomes more real."
While a few outspoken words can jumpstart your dream, you also need to learn to be flexible throughout the journey. You may set a goal for yourself with a linear path forward. However, the journey towards your goal may lead you to discover a new pathway that can unlock successes you didn’t initially realize were possible.
"Set a goal, but instead of being disappointed if you don’t achieve it, be grateful for the fact that you moved forward. If you want to write a book, go back and look at what you’ve done so far. You've probably already accomplished more than you can imagine."
We encourage you to support Tricia by getting her badass new book.
“The B Words: 13 Words Every Woman Must Navigate for Success!”