Networking Nirvana? Fond memories of the Honeywell Women’s Council….. January 6, 2010

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One of Shareology’s key interest areas is networking.   Recently, she has been remembering one of the strongest networking groups she has ever been a part of:  The Honeywell Women’s Council.

During Shareology’s 10 year run at Honeywell, she spent three years on the Honeywell Women’s Council; for two of those years she served as Programs Chair.   A few standouts:

1.  The use of strategic planning  Honeywell in general was strong on strategic planning.  The process was integrated throughout the company.   The retail business unit had a  three-day summer session once a year to develop plans for the coming year.  In the fall, the entire division created the strategic plan for the next year; Shareology was a part of that process and presented on the marketing communications plans for the RBU. 

But that was all a tad corporate.   And as strong as it was, there was an inclination (incorrect) to think that the plan got clipped in a three-ring binder and tossed on a credenza for the rest of the year.  The Honeywell Women’s Council took the strategic planning process and integrated it into the group.   If you were Programs Chair, you couldn’t begin to understand what you were going to do that year until you knew what the strategic direction for the Council would be that year.  Smaller than corporate, yes, but much more immediate.  It taught me to love the strategic planning process from beginning to end and back again.

2.   The sheer talent of the women on the HWC  To give but a few examples, one woman left Honeywell, taking the public relations function with her, and began a firm bearing her name that continues to this day to stand tall in Minnesota public relations.   Another council member left Minneapolis to run a division of Honeywell in the eastern US, served not one, but two terms as a Minnesota State Commissioner, and is now head of the Minnesota Better Business Bureau.  A third council member served as Chairman of the Board of the Guthrie Theater.  To be working as peers with these high achieving women was a strong, empowering experience.

3.  Miscellaneous HWC joys  With the Honeywell Women’s Council, you just never knew what would happen next.  One year, we were host to a group of women from Russia.   To say that culture shock existed is to put it mildly.   The Russian women entered a room at Honeywell Golden Valley filled with women who made their living by designing, marketing and selling electronic controls.  In Russia, such a thing as The Round did not exist, let alone a programmable thermostat.  In Russia, if you  were too hot, you opened a window.  If you were too cold, you closed a window.  That was temperature control in Russia.   Yet we listened and we learned.  This happened in the 1980’s, and we thought often of these Russian women, as the economy and politics in their country created changes that we could not hope to imagine.

So there it is:  Shareology loves the Honeywell Women’s Council.   That three-year experience was a key building block; in fact, after her HWC term, Shareology had so much spare time on her hands, that she decided to “take a few courses….”   Well, dear readers, before you know it, Shareology was back in academia, beginning her MBA road.

Recently, Shareology met a former President of the HWC, and started glowing in memory land.  It dawned on Shareology that these women were still in existence, out in the world they have now made such an impact.   How to reach these alumni?   One answer sprang to mind immediately.   A LinkedIn group!   It started a couple of months ago with a mere two members.   We’ve located more alumni and they join us on LinkedIn under the group:   Honeywell Women’s Council Alumni.    If you know anyone who was at Honeywell and on the Council, direct them to LinkedIn….. they will get a joyous welcome! 

Kay Roseland   @KayLoire


Befores and Afters December 3, 2009

You know how you’re reading some biography (or, OK, an article in People) and someone says “You can do anything you put your mind to” or some variation on that statement?  Well, Shareology is a tad dubious.   I don’t think I can perform brain surgery.   I don’t think I could be President of the United States.  Heck, I don’t even think I could be Secretary of State.

However.   I do have a couple of examples of how changing your (my!) attitude can make all the difference.  Let’s start with the MBA example.

Shareology raced through the first 75% of her MBA.  (Do you think the fact that Honeywell was paying for it helped in any way?  Thank you, Honeywell!!)   Then came the eight year recess.  Five courses remained.  Shareology had taken every marketing course possible.   So what was left?  Well, besides a couple of great courses (Organizational Development, Strategic Management) there remained The Three Icks:   Managerial Accounting, Econ, Finance.  

At various times in her MBA career, she had dropped managerial accounting, not once, not twice but three times!!  (In the first chapter of the $100 plus accounting textbook, was a homework problem that seemed so detailed that Shareology could not imagine ever completing it.)  On the third drop, Shareology finally did something smart.  She emailed the  professor.   The professor, who happened to be head of the accounting department, said “I’m sorry to hear that.   I would have loved to have helped you.  Perhaps you could attend the second class.”  (Shareology had become an expert in knowing you could attend two classes  before dropping without a penalty.)  In the email to the professor, Shareology had explained how she had built up this fear of The Three Icks.  But she committed one thing to the professor.  No matter how scary, this time she would attend all fourteen class sessions, and try, to the best of her ability, to succeed, or at least complete.   It had finally dawned on Shareology that, if she wanted to complete the course, she was going to have to show up for all fourteen sessions.

The professor and Shareology brainstormed:   tutors?  help from the professor?  extra resources?   Just the fact that the professor  would  know that this would be a struggle and that it wasn’t going to be pretty…  (Perfectionism will stop us from going forth and doing anything…we might produce a result that might be less than……. perfect.)

Shareology found a study buddy in the class to work through homework and she began to read the $100+ textbook.  (Actually she had two versions of the text:  she had been at this so long, the text was republished with another edition.  Swell, TWO $100+ textbooks.)  The deep irony is she was reading an accounting textbook word for word, when time constraints and group projects meant she didn’t read the marketing textbooks earlier in her MBA studying.  She also assigned very specific time slots each week towards studying.  Yep, studying.  The result?  Shareology got a B in managerial accounting, a B+ in econ, and an (OMG!!) A- in finance.  And yes, she told the econ and finance professors that this was going to be a challenge, she was scared, it wasn’t going to be pretty, and she needed help.

The second example?   Shareology was a support system as Agency Babylon launched his blog earlier this year.  She heard all the challenges, and the new areas of learning.  WordPress?  What’s that?   But she listened to Agency Babylon and learned.  She listened to speakers at Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St.  Paul mentioning that WordPress was a great tool,  feeds directly into LinkedIn, and was poised to offer features far into the future for bloggers.  

But what would Shareology write about?  And how could she sustain interest?   How could she integrate her various interests in marketing, social media and networking?  Would readers accept that she might write about any of these subjects on any given day?  Shareology once again could not imagine how she would do all this…… 

And yet, four months later, she HAS done it.  The Before?  scared silly.  The After?  happy writer.   (And a HUGE thank you to Shareology readers for making this possible.)

So what have I learned?   You can do MUCH more than you ever imagined.   Even conquer The Three Icks.  The sweetest moment was when Shareology stepped onto the University of St. Thomas stage to receive her masters hood.  The professor to place the hood over Shareology’s beaming face?   Dr. Jane Saly, her professor of managerial accounting.  Priceless.

Kay Roseland   @KayLoire


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