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Beverly K., Executive and Mother MAG
I interviewed my mother, an executive and engineer, about aging and herexperiences.
What does it feel like to be approaching 50?
I used to think 50 wasreally old but I don't feel very different from when I was in my twenties. I still feel like I can do anythingand everything, but when I attempt to do things athletically, I'm not as fast or strong. Overall, I find I'mmore tired, but then again, I have a lot more responsibilities and do more than when I was in my twenties. Iam more conscious of what and how much I eat, and I have to be more rigorous in my exercise. On apositive note, I am more content, more fulfilled and more secure than ever.
What aresome of the responsibilities and activities you're involved in?
I built and manage a $45 million business building virtual reality systems to train the military. I also identify and capture business tocontinue our annual growth rate of 15%. In other words, I have to make the company bigger andbigger.
My major activity, though, is raising two healthy, well-adjusted, creative andentertaining daughters. This includes providing a home environment supportive of their academic, social andathletic pursuits. Much of my extracurricular time is spent attending games and tournaments for their fivesports. I spend my remaining time with my dogs, decorating our home, working out andreading.
How do you feel about your accomplishments?
The most rewarding andsuccessful accomplishment is as a mother. From a career perspective, I have met all my goals, whichincluded becoming financially independent for myself and my daughters so they can pursue their careersindependent of financial needs. I am now working with my organization to set new career objectives, whichI will pursue when my daughters are in college. The location of their colleges may effect some aspects ofmy future career goals.
Besides physical limitations, what differences have you foundbetween being 20 and approaching 50?
I'm a lot calmer and more confident. I enjoy being in aposition where I can mentor other women to learn from my experience and prepare them for setting andattaining their goals. My experience in managing and developing people has helped me deal with a variety ofpersonalities and create teams where various talents are put together. It is rewarding to see people developskills and build products that give them recognition in their field.
Is there anything youhave not done that you would like to?
Because I have worked so hard to achieve my career goals tosupport my family, I have not had the opportunity to travel with my daughters. I would like to plan sometrips to interesting and intriguing places.
How do you feel you have impactedsociety?
I feel that in some respects I have been a pioneer for women in engineering andmanagement. There were a small number of women in my engineering masters program at the University ofMichigan. Frequently, I was the only female engineer in the company. In my current company, I was thefirst - and continue to be - the only female executive. I work for a Fortune 500 company with 40,000employees and over $5 billion in sales, and am considered a role model for other women in ourcompany.
Do you consider high school the best years of your life?
No, I considernow the best years of my life because I have had the opportunity to learn, grow and achieve, and I find mylife with my daughters and my employees stimulating and rewarding.
What advice wouldyou give teenagers?
Stay positive, learn to communicate with other people so you can learn fromthem, retain a desire to learn and continually improve. Set attainable goals, develop a sense ofresponsibility, consider your mistakes opportunities to learn and appreciate the opportunities and people inyour life.
What are some important dates or experiences youremember?
Primarily I remember events associated with my daughters, their births and theirlives. I've enjoyed every stage of their growth. I remember realizing I would have to be responsible -financially and emotionally - for my daughters, and this motivated me to set and achieve my careergoals.
What was your biggest challenge?
Learning to deal with arrogant,aggressive, challenging behavior in others. The lesson I've learned that I impart to my daughters is not toallow other people's behavior to affect your own. I transitioned from a reaction which allowed me to beintimidated or bullied, to a reaction which was challenging, to my current non-reactive behavior whichallows me to get to the source of the other person's behavior by asking questions. I then attempt tonegotiate solutions, which allows the person to save face in spite of their reactivebehavior.
How do you handle the stress?
Regular exercise helps a lot. I amfortunate to have a body that doesn't physically react to stress, so most of my stress reduction is to focuson non-stressful activities, which involve my daughters, my house and my dogs.
How doyou view age?
I don't really think of people in terms of age; I regularly interact with teenagers,young adults and older adults. My peers, on average, are ten years older than me, but I don't consider theirage. I usually can't gauge it and don't consider it a barrier to communicating orrelating.
What will it feel like to be 60?
I plan to stay active, but I expect thatphysically things may become more difficult. I enjoy learning, and I may go to school to learn more aboutpsychology and how to combine that knowledge with my career experience to advance managementtechniques. I also plan to enjoy life and take advantage of the rewards that have come with raising twogreat daughters and having a positive outlook on life.