BU COM CM 419 - Assignment Two: Karen Kaplan’s Leadership

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Stephanie Kubota COM CM419Professor Cakebread Assignment Two: Karen Kaplan’s LeadershipIn his Forbes article “The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits of Women” writer GlennLlopis talks about the distinctive yet underappreciated leadership skills that women offer in thebusiness industry. Although the world may now seem progressive, there is still a large disparitybetween men and women in leadership roles. In fact, only 4.6 percent of Fortune’s 1,000 ChiefExecutive Officer positions in the world are held by women (Llopis, 2014). Karen Kaplan is oneof the 4.6 percent. She is the president of Boston’s largest advertising agency Hill Holliday. Shedemonstrates the qualities in women leaders that Llopis outlines.Llopis’ first trait is being opportunity-driven. Women always find a silver lining whenthey are faced with difficult circumstances. Their opportunistic and optimistic attitudes allowthem to learn from every experience. Despite her unrelated French literature college degree andexperiences limited to baby-sitting and waitressing, Kaplan took the opportunity to be thereceptionist at Hill Holiday in 1982. Although her original intention for taking the position wasto raise enough money to pay for law school, she soon realized that she had the potential tothrive within the advertising industry. She took her role as a receptionist – what her then-colleagues claimed as a step “below the guy in the mail room and the guy who deliverspackages” – seriously, taking advantage of the prospects of what being the face behind the frontdesk offered: meeting and greeting executives, clients and VIP guests.Subsequently, Llopis claims that female frontrunners are both strategic and passionate.More often than not, women are keen observers; they provide a broader perspective of things thatgoes beyond what is seen on the surface. Because of this, one may say that women tend to bemaster manipulators. This label could be taken as an insult; however, in reality, successfulwomen are wise to “play the game” when they have to, anticipating the unexpected andcalculating the timing of each move they make. Kaplan used her instincts to her advantage as sheclimbed to the top. She often worked after hours, coming in on weekends to make sure that herresponsibilities were performed on time and correctly. Herein, she realized that expendingminimal extra-effort reaps great rewards. In 31 years, she progressed through 12 differentpositions until she became the successor of Mike Sheehan as the CEO of Hill Holliday in May2013 (Bruell, 2013). Moreover, Llopis points out that women are nurturing and inspiring. Not only are womenself-ambitious, they also aspire to motivate others to achieve. Women are good listeners andexcellent connectors, traits that help them build a collaborative environment within the officeculture. Kaplan was recently honored by Advertising Age as one of the 100 Most InfluentialWomen in Advertising (Bruell, 2013). Today, 60 percent of Hill Holiday’s employees arewomen. In her speech to Northeastern University’s graduating class of 2013, she outlines the 10rules to success and leadership: 1) Originality requires attention.2) Always be confident and optimistic. 3) Embrace what makes you different.4) Always work hard.5) Keep your eyes wide open.6) Find the right environment that will allow you to succeed.7) Have humility. 8) Never forget how lucky you are and always remember to give back. 9) You have to believe in yourself.10) Have fun along the way. Lastly, Llopis states that successful women value traditions and family. Women areoften the “glue that keeps things together” whether at home or at work (Llopis, 2014). They arebig believers in team building that enforces the maintenance of mission statements, goals, andvalues of the company. They appreciate the past, as it has paved the way to the present andaffects what is to come in the future. In fact, Kaplan has saved the business card of every one ofher 12 positions to commemorate how far she has come (Stampler, 2013). However, Llopis acknowledges that women are yet to be fully appreciated for the uniquequalities and abilities they bring to the workplace. Although Kaplan has risen to CEO, there arestill small but telling reminders of sexism within the business. Kaplan recalls the many timesclients have falsely assumed that she was a man before meeting her, or the waiter handing thecheck to male clients when she was the one paying for the meal (Kearnan, 2013). Regardless, Kaplan acknowledges that life will always be messy and the path to successwill not always be a straight line. Her telltale feat reminds me that anything is truly achievablewith hard work and patience. Similar Llopis’ childhood, I also grew up surrounded by strong-willed, hardworking, and purpose-driven women. In the Philippines, it is far more common tofind a female breadwinner than one that is male. My mother, who has been working since shewas 15 years old, has brought her family from the slums of Caloocan to the wealth of Manila.She, reminiscent to Karen Kaplan and Llopis’ mentors, is a constant reminder to be grateful thatI have a roof over my shoulders, let alone a higher education at an esteemed university. As a result, I always strive to give my best and take as much as I can get from everyopportunity that arises. One such example is my contribution to the Filipino IntercollegiateNetworking Dialogue conference held at Harvard University last fall. My frequent participationand proactive character as a freshman representative encouraged my superiors to promote me toone of the chairs in the committee. Thereafter, I was in charge of everything pertaining to media.This included allocating and managing responsibilities such as designingposters/flyers/brochures, publicizing the event in social media, communicating with vendors andsuppliers, organizing a welcoming group, scheduling, etc. Although I am proficient in creatingthe necessary content, what challenged me most was leading and coordinating a diverse set ofpeople. I found it exceedingly difficult relying on other people to adequately give theircontributions to the project, but it was far too big a task to execute by myself. From thisexperience, I realize that


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