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We asked women leaders across Research Triangle Park to share their thoughts about success, their leadership styles and the benefits of working within RTP. We’ve collected compelling advice from the four panelists who participated in our International Women’s Day event and other accomplished women in our community. We hope these ideas inspire you to #breakthebias and keep the conversation going. Visit the International Women’s Day website for more information and resources related to the #breakthebias campaign, which will continue throughout 2022.

Left to right: Earlene Gibbons, Valerie Jordan, Sarah Chick (moderator), Daisy Magnus-Aryitey and Kelly Pfrommer after the fireside chat on International Women’s Day.

Your Future at Work

The leaders we spoke to talked about changes that they would like to see in the workplace and examples of how they are contributing to change, right now.

“Highlight the accomplishments of the women on your team. Ask other women for help and offer support.”

Earlene Gibbons, Executive Director, Operational Technology, United Therapeutics Corporation and founding member of Women in Manufacturing 

“The Committee of Diversity and Equity at RTI is laying a foundation so that equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging are institutionalized within our business unit.” 

Courtney Peasant Bonner, PhD; Substance Use, Gender and Applied Research Program, RTI International

“It makes me proud that an employee knew that she did not need permission to bring her child to work one day when school was closed. I want it to be implicit, that it’s OK to do these things without asking. I try to be the place that my mom needed.”
Daisy Magnus-Aryitey, Co-Executive Director, Code the Dream

“Measure the value being created, not the time and seat.” — Kelly Pfrommer, CEO, Cloud Giants and Co-Founder,

Why RTP?

Participants told us what is special about working in Research Triangle Park and what place means for their careers or organizations.

“The Triangle is extremely diverse and a great space to grow your career. You’re surrounded by incredible companies with great mentors.”

Meghna Sharma, Computer Science and Business Administration student, UNC (Class of 2022) and Executive Chair, Pearl Hacks

I noticed a synergy and vibrancy in the way the Triangle business community was flourishing. There’s a collaborative mindset in the area and I have always felt certain that our [Code the Dream] trainees will have mentors and be successful.” — Daisy

“I love the cutting edge tech community here and collaborating with other women and innovators.”
— Earlene

“RTP is at the center of where 3+ communities come together; where else can this happen? This place geographically creates opportunity and inclusivity. Physicality is important.” — Kelly

The event was held at Boxyard RTP on March 8.

On Working Parents

An audience member asked “How did you balance career demands and still remain a present parent? This is something that feels easier for men to do.”

“Employers should allow for more work-life balance. Make sure your people are in a safe zone to do what they need.”Valerie Jordan, Owner, Hunter J Group

“Motherhood is why I became a business owner. In the working world I was part of, there was no space to go part-time, no flexibility without giving up the job.” — Kelly

“You can have it all but you can’t have it all at once, it can come down to timing. Find the balance, be the parent you want to be and the employee you’d like to be.” — Daisy

On Confidence and Success

We asked about advice for young professionals who are getting started on their career path and handling imposter syndrome.

“Network and seek ways to gain exposure into different areas; like tech meetups, clubs, or local organizations — real life experience and connection is priceless.”

Cassandra Owens, Solution Manager, Power Plan, Inc.

“You are going to be in many spaces where you will appear invisible to others because of your race and gender. Hold on to the fact that you are seen by the people that matter and the vision you have will one day become an inspiration to others.”

Stephanie Hawkins, Founding Director, Transformative Research Unit for Equity (TRUE) at RTI International

“In your communication avoid phrases like “does that makes sense?” Stick to the facts and what you know. Also, it isn’t necessary to always sound enthusiastic.” — Earlene

“At my first [NC DOT] boardroom meeting, I was the only black woman at the table, and my heart started pounding, and my hands started sweating. But I remembered that I deserved to be there. So the imposter syndrome—I turned it against itself and said, ‘You’re the imposter.’ And I still do that today.” — Valerie

“Find your sense of worth within, rather than from external approval. Compete with yourself, not others.” — Kelly

“To young women considering a career in technology, always remember that your voice is important and you contributions are valid.” — Meghna

About the Research Triangle Foundation

As stewards of the Park, RTF leads the Triangle in creating a thriving business environment, promoting economic development, and facilitating strategic partnerships that benefit our region and state. Through its commitment to fostering connections, environmental stewardship, innovation and collaboration, the Foundation invests in programs that cultivate vibrant communities within the Park.

Our core mission since the founding of RTP in 1959:

  • Facilitate collaboration between the Triangle universities.
  • Promote cooperation between universities and industry.
  • Create an economic impact for residents of North Carolina.