Member Spotlight | Beth Davies
WomenH2H Founding Member, Host of the Career Curves podcast, Professor, and Keynote Speaker. On a mission to inspire others every chance I get.
Family: Married, no kids or pets.
Favorite hobbies: Golf and jigsaw puzzles
First job where I earned a paycheck: Teaching gymnastics at a dance studio.
Worst job: Working for a caterer. It was not the work that was horrible, but the team. They thought it was funny to haze the new starter and did everything they could to embarrass me. I quit after one day.
After 25+ years in Learning & Development at companies like Tesla, Microsoft, Apple, and Gap, I have taken my skills in a new direction and am hosting a podcast, Career Curves. I am also an advisor to EdTech startups, teach in a master’s program at IE University, and give keynote speeches at conferences around the world.
I earned a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University and a law degree from Stanford University. In 2016, IU named me a Luminary as a distinguished Alumna.
When it comes to the role of women at work today, what inspires you and what keeps you up at night?
Every day I talk to women who are smart, ambitious, accomplished, warm, and insightful. The list of positive adjectives could go on and on. There is no shortage of talent and this inspires me.
What keeps me up at night is that in spite of all these positives, women still have to fight to be considered for jobs, leadership positions, funding, and even just to have their voices heard. I wish we were not still fighting.
What is your goal around that and why is it important to you? Why is that a priority for you right now?
I want to help people overcome the challenges they face, both challenges from others as well as internal voices that may be holding them back.
On my podcast, Career Curves, I interview people who have had interesting careers to explore how they got where they are. I ask about the challenges and obstacles they faced and how they overcame them.
My hope is that by hearing the stories of people with interesting careers, others will get ideas for actions they can take and be inspired to overcome challenges they face, including negative self-talk.
What have you learned from other people’s career stories that you wish others knew?
We are all different and we all have different journeys. You are not broken or failing because your journey does not mimic someone else’s or exactly follow the path you thought you would take.
You are not broken or failing because you are not doing what others say you are supposed to do. It is okay for your journey to be your unique journey.
What are the biggest challenges you have personally had as a woman at work? How did you try to overcome them?
The biggest challenge that comes to mind is I have been told to modify my behavior when that exact behavior is accepted from men. For instance, I have been told to hold back when sharing my thoughts and opinions, so it does not appear like I am trying to take charge. I doubt many men have received this feedback.
Messages like this aggravate and frustrate me greatly. It is very hard to overcome this feedback since it is based on biases. I have tried modifying my behavior as requested so I could get ahead, however, this left me doubting myself and lacking confidence since I was not being the real me.
I have been more successful when I have found companies and teams where I can be the true, authentic me.
Many women are frustrated or disheartened by office politics. What have you done in the past to help you get through such moments?
I learned an important lesson about office politics from a friend of mine. She was an art student and after graduating from college, decided to work at a small, 3-person, graphic design firm to avoid being in a workplace with drama and politics. The thought was that office politics result from having a lot of people in the workplace.
A year after graduation, she left that job. When I asked why, she said, “Beth, the politics and drama were horrible! Every disagreement created tension. Every decision was argued. I now think anytime you have two or more people working together, drama and politics ensue.”
I think she was right. Interpersonal relationships are challenging. When challenges emerge at home, we call them fights. At work, we call them conflict and politics.
I have found that if you build relationships during good times, you can more smoothly get through the tough times. A good analogy is a bank account. If you make investments during good times, you can make withdrawals during tough times without depleting the account.
Are there authors, influencers, leaders, sites, blogs you follow?
I get a lot of new ideas and inspiration from podcasts. Some favorites are The Hidden Brain, How I Built This, Freakonomics, and The Moth.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Kids, be free. Be whoever you want to be. Do whatever you want to do, just so long as you do not hurt anybody.” It is from the musical Hair.