Take the Leap into Growth & Development



Back in 2014, I had owned my company for two years and held a leadership role in my family business for 19 years. I was ready to grow, expand, and connect with other individuals outside of my company. Not only was it lonely being at the top, but I felt that my skills and knowledge were being stunted without outside growth and development. It was at that time that I found Women’s President’s Organization (WPO) and Bobbie Goheen, the facilitator of the Rochester Chapter. At the time, I didn’t realize that this small step would change the trajectory for myself, my company and employees, and my family. I had found my tribe! A group of women business owners and executives who were faced with the same challenges, growth objectives, and struggle with work/life balance as myself. This group inspired me to step out of my comfort zone, grow my business, and they became my sounding board when the tough business challenges arose…as they always do.

Joining the WPO was just the first step in my leadership development journey. After experiencing Bobbie’s talent and intuition in a group setting (especially her ability to ask the right questions that help individuals realize how they want to move forward), I realized I could further benefit from working with her as my executive coach. I leaned on Bobbie and the relationships within our group to point me to resources and tools I needed to support my business growth, sought out other leadership growth opportunities, and found more work/life balance that was much needed.

My advice as a woman executive is to take the time to grow and develop management skills, leadership acumen, and connect to your dreams and goals. It wasn’t until I stepped out of the day-to-day of running my business that I could see the gaps or where I needed to lean into my business, as well as take the time to develop my own knowledge and skills further. I found that when I invested in myself in the core areas of leadership through coaching, online learning, and joining peer learning groups, I took my business to the next level. Not only did my company grow by 10-20% year over year, but I learned to streamline processes, which ultimately led to a successful sale of my business in 2019.

Leadership development is especially important for women, as I have found that in my social and business circles, I do not always have the connections and support that I need as I grow on my journey. Men typically have all the board seats, time at the golf course or country club, and from a historical perspective, can identify and emulate male leadership positions. As individual leaders, we all need peers to provide support, the time to reflect, mentors to reach out to, and experiences to grow and develop our skills. As a woman leader, I needed to search wider and dig deeper to find these same opportunities and connections.

Today, I continue to work with my former company, as well as consult with other companies on how best to grow and develop their business. I am still growing, learning, and stretching in my leadership journey. But it is a lot less lonely and much more fun!  I encourage you to take the leap into your growth and development in both business and leadership.

Andrea FitzGerald
CEO of my life