Women in business and leadership cannot shy away from risk if they hope to make a lasting impact on their community, Dow Chemical Co. executive Teresa Keating told members of the Charleston Area Alliance's Elevations Professional Women's Network Wednesday.
Keating, the Business Manufacturing Technology Director at Dow, was the keynote speaker at the 4th annual Elevations Academy professional development event at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
The annual events are designed to provide female entrepreneurs and business professionals an opportunity to come together, network and inspire each other with practical ideas on how they can improve their business and community.
"We have to be the best we can be," said JoEllen Zacks, senior vice president at the Charleston Area Alliance. "We can't look at anyone else. It's up to us to create our future and we want to get people in on the ground level."
Keating, an area native who started at Dow as an engineer in 1997 and worked her way up to the executive level, said it was essential for women to break out of their comfort zones if they want to affect change.
"As a leader, you've got to break new ground and break paradigms," she said.
That could be difficult she said, because women tend to be more risk averse than men.
She said risk could come in three different forms: people, systems and things. She said she has had to take big risks to inspire change in all three of those categories during her career.
She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt in saying women should do one thing each day that scares them. That, she said, would help them gain the courage to step out and take bigger risks.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Am I a trail blazer or am I just sitting around enjoying the trail mix?'<!p><#148> she said. "Are you getting out of your comfort zone enough?"