Speakers Focus on “Personal Branding,’ Workforce Diversity, and “DISC Profile’

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Speakers Focus on “Personal Branding,’ Workforce Diversity, and “DISC Profile’

 Following on the heels of the 2015 Parking Industry Exhibition, the second annual Women in Parking (WIP) Conference opened its doors April 2 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in suburban Chicago. 
Eighty-nine female parking professionals eagerly awaited the day’s events and speakers. The room buzzed with conversations among old colleagues, and new networking relationships were about to be made. 
For the WIP organization, this year’s conference had been in the making since March 2014, when it successfully completed its inaugural event. Through planning, organizing and careful selection of topics, WIP set out to put on a wonderful show. 
The much anticipated conference was designed for participants to “experience the convergence of insightful observations, meaningful discussions with peers, and a glimpse into what the future holds for women in the parking industry.” 
Opening this year’s conference were WIP Executive Director Ruth Beaman, a Co-Founder of IntegraPark, and WIP Chairperson Colleen Niese, a Principal of The Marlyn Group. They gave a welcome and a thank-you to everybody in attendance. 
Beaman noted her pride in how WIP had come from its humble beginnings in 2011 to the present day. The organization is now more than 200 members strong and growing, she said. Both women thanked members of the WIP Leadership Board for all of their hard work. 
And a special thank-you went out to Board Member Michelle Porter, WIP Conference Committee Chairperson, who is Director of Parking & Transportation Services at Carnegie Mellon University. 
The focus then turned to the sponsors who financially support the organization. First up was a huge thank-you to John Van Horn, Publisher and Editor of Parking Today magazine. Van Horn and his wife, Robyn, came up the idea of WIP, and he has continually exceeded the organization’s expectations with financial support. Parking Today has recently become a Platinum Corporate Sponsor of WIP. 
Attention then turned to Alan Lazowski, Chairman and CEO of Laz Parking. He’s not only the first male WIP Board Member, but his company is a Platinum Corporate Sponsor as well. Lazowski continues to help membership grow by encouraging all of his employees to join WIP and promote its core values. 
 
Keynote Speaker Tonya Tiggett, “Chief Success Strategist” of Promoting University (“Promoting U”), presented on Personal Branding. Her message was clear and strong. She promised that attendees would leave the conference with something they could use the very next day. 
Tiggett focused on “What is your personal brand, and what is that saying about you?” Each individual is in charge of herself, “the CEO of Me Inc.,” she stressed. That empowers them to take charge of the image and branding they are putting out in the workforce. 
Tiggett summarized her message by asking attendees to take away three things: 
“The executive presence is based on Gravitas, the ability to project confidence; Communication, your tone and body language; and Appearance, both physical and work environment.” 
 
The WIP conference next shifted gears by doing an on-site live interview with Steve Burton, President of Ace Parking, who directs all of its new business development and marketing efforts. He gave his “Perspective on Gender Diversity in Today’s Parking Industry.”
Burton has been in the parking industry for more than 30 years. He has seen an amazing shift in the number of females employed now, compared with his early years. He said that right now, for example, Ace Parking’s Executive Board includes 40% women, and the company’s entire employee base comprises 12% women. 
Burton said that hiring women professionals gives Ace Parking a different perspective on the way it does business. If company clients are diversified, then its staff should be as well, he said.
 
Two “breakout sessions” followed a lunch break and well-deserved recognition to past and current WIP Board Members. 
Andi Campbell, VP Human Resources for Laz Parking, spoke to the topic of sharpening your networking skills. Her main theme was that it’s as much giving as it is receiving. One should recognize that they do in fact control the outcome of situations. Also, she spoke to the fact that there is a happy place in-between passive and aggressive. This place is called assertive. No longer should we think of that word as a negative but a positive way to assert one self.
Vicki Pero, a Principal of The Marlyn Group, spoke on the “DISC Profile,” and how by knowing your colleagues’ and superiors’ profiles, you can better relate and work with them. Pero said DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance – the four key personality traits that apply to business professionals. We all can have some of each in us, she said, but there is a dominating trait that we need to recognize in ourselves and in others.
 
The second annual WIP conference concluded with a brief talk by Marjorie Maginn, from the Women in Government Foundation, a nonprofit, bipartisan organization of female state legislators. She told attendees how few women are in government roles, especially as state governors.   
As of February 2015, Maginn said, 37 women have served or are serving as governor (including one from the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). Currently, six women are serving as governors. Her message was for women to get more involved in all areas of the workforce.  
Maginn described her five female role models.  The most impressive was her mother, she said, who started a business while raising 10 children. There is nothing a woman can’t do, Maginn said, whether it is in government … or in parking.  
 
Marcy Sparrow, Advertising Director of Parking Today magazine and PIE Sales Manager, is Treasurer of Women in Parking. Contact her at marcy@parkingtoday.com.
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Marcy Sparrow
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