The following was excerpted from Erin Shoul’s speech at the Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration.
I had the absolute privilege of shadowing with Ms. Janese Murray, Vice President of Diversity and Integration at Exelon. Going into this process, I hoped to come away with a better understanding of what every day leadership looked like, and how to apply this leadership in the workplace.
As my long awaited shadow day arrived, I honestly had no idea what to expect of my time with Ms. Murray. The moment I walked in the door, though being a little nervous, I was instantly welcomed, and to my surprise was immediately included in the workings of Ms. Murray’s day. I had the privilege to sit in on conference calls, eat lunch with the other employees on the floor, and take a tour of the Exelon control center next door. I learned something new every minute of my time with Ms. Murray, but most importantly I learned what being a leader looks like.
One moment I specifically remember was during a conference call regarding a large event her team was planning. We were discussing the pros and cons of an issue, trying to get everyone’s opinion and view of the situation, something very difficult to do over the phone. One woman had a concern on a topic, and as the conversation progressed forward her concerns were addressed and the conversation was seemingly ready to move on. Ms. Murray made sure that she went back, and thanked the team member who came up with idea, making sure to keep it in mind throughout the rest of the planning. For me, this was a “lightbulb moment.” There, in that one conversation, I was able to see what leadership looked like.
While it is very easy to list the qualities of a leader or the things that you should do in a situation, taking the time to appreciate every team member’s skills and sometimes let others take the lead, is the sign of a true leader. I think this idea is what I really was able to take away from the experience. Not only did I get to learn about the fascinating and complex process of controlling the distribution of energy to Exelon’s customers, or the work of Ms. Murray with diversity and making the most welcoming environment for Exelon workers, but I got to see what a strong, woman leader looked like in action, something I will always remember. I was able to see the thing I had always been missing, the key elements of confidence, inclusion, and voicing everyone’s opinions, advice that I now carry with me every day.
I feel so blessed for this opportunity and couldn’t have hoped for anything more. I am so excited to see where my new relationship with Ms. Murray takes me, as I greatly look up to her as a leader, mentor, and woman. Thank you so much to the Girl Scout committee, my family, and Ms. Murray for the time and support so I could have this amazing experience.
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