International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on the progress made, recognize the work left to be done, and to celebrate the incredible achievements of women in all facets of life. Creative Group is proud to be an organization full of creative, intelligent, resourceful superwomen who embody our core beliefs each and every day. We caught up with just a handful of these women to discuss female leadership and provide some inspiration for the next generation of female leaders.

In the words of Martina McBride, “this one’s for the girls!”

Janet Traphagen, President

What does being a woman in business, and your role specifically, mean to you?

Janet (J): Being a woman in business and specifically in a senior role, provides me with the opportunity to (re)shape what leadership looks like. Bringing both feminine and masculine energy into decision-making, balancing both head and heart, and demonstrating that vulnerability is a strength.

Which women are you inspired by (locally or globally), and why?

J: I’m inspired by female leaders who are confident in the value they can bring while simultaneously remaining curious and open to continuous growth.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

J: Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparison to a peer. Comparison to past performers. Comparison to some old definition of leadership. Know that you are enough. You belong at the table. Your authenticity is beautiful.

How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you? 

J: It’s important that we all lift each other up, whether male or female. As a senior leader, it’s important to have the courage to look someone right in the eye and acknowledge their worth. Equally, it’s important to be clear when the mark is missed. As author, Brené Brown says, “clear is kind”.

Maritza Zaenger

Maritza Zaenger, SVP, Organizational Effectiveness

What does being a woman in business, and your role specifically, mean to you?

Maritza (M): As a woman in business, I have the opportunity to help grow other leaders and use my skills to help a company reach its goals, while creating a culture where employees feel cared for. Women bring a different set of eyes and mindset to the business world from our male colleagues. Empathy, open-mindedness, our ability to handle pressure and multitask, and open communication are some of the innate traits we bring to the table. We are as equally able to lead a company in profitability and innovation as our counterparts.

Which women are you inspired by (locally or globally), and why?

M: Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg come immediately to mind. Michelle Obama because she is so clear on her values and has a strong moral compass. Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she was a moderate consensus builder who advocated for gender equality and women’s rights.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

M: Make sure you have an unwavering set of values. Stay true to who you are and find your passion. You will encounter prejudice but don’t let this stop you. Your values will always guide you in determining what is right or wrong. It will help you look in the mirror and still like who you see.

How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you? 

M: It is important for women to lift each other up because the business or political worlds will always be harder for us. Lifting each other up means mentoring others and sharing our secret sauce (knowledge and experience). It also means being good leaders as we grow in our careers to show other women how to lead others in the future.

Jamie Schwartz, Sr. Director, Individual Performance Strategy

What does being a woman in business, and your role specifically, mean to you?

Jamie (J): Being a woman in business has definitely been an evolution for me. I found my stride in the second half of my career as I learned more about product management and dove into the creation of go-to-market strategies. Understanding that I didn’t have to know everything to be able to add value was very empowering for me. Learning to lean into the broad range of expertise that exists when varied, diverse people come together is amazing! Being a woman in business is simply being an open, engaged person that works with others to bring leadership, purpose, and success to an organization. 

Which women are you inspired by (locally or globally), and why?

J: There are two women that come to mind when I specifically consider my career. The first is a woman named, Jamie Collins (currently Vice President, Dierbergs Markets) – a former manager of mine. Jamie always pushed our team to think beyond current capabilities while reminding us to be realistic in execution. She also encouraged learning, which continually made me a better marketer and is a value I still embrace. The second is Janet Traphagen (President, Creative Group – see above!) – my current business leader. While it may seem obvious to include Janet, her leadership style made an immediate impression on me and played a part in my desire to join Creative Group in the first place! Janet is incredibly smart and savvy with a palpable kindness about her. I admire her ability to take in all points of view, make solid, data-driven decisions, and to inspire our teams to follow through. 

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

J: I would encourage young women to do two things to the very best of their ability…the first is to listen. Listen to managers and leaders. Listen to peers and partners. Listen to clients and colleagues. Listen to your friends, listen to people you see winning and listen to those that experience failure. Take it all in. And then second, speak up. You are in your role or position for a reason – be it entry-level, mid-management or top dog. People believe in you, and you should believe in yourself. You will not always be right, but if you do not speak up, you will be unknown, looked over. If you continually listen and speak up, you will find success.  

How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you? 

J: I feel like women lifting each other up is just part of my DNA. I attended a small, all-female high school in St. Louis (Nerinx Hall) that radiated female empowerment. This is really where I gained personal confidence. I learned that extreme cheerleading for other women can truly impact another person’s self-assurance and ability to flourish. I have always looked for environments that value, support and uplift the contributions of women. Additionally, I have two amazing daughters that remind me daily that uplifting women is not only important in practice, it is important as an example to others. 

Amanda Wood

Amanda Wood, Director, Event Solutions Strategy

What does being a woman in business, event production specifically, mean to you?

Amanda (A): Being a woman in the event production field is special in so many ways. It involves breaking traditional norms and contributing to a more inclusive and diverse industry. I believe that having excellent empathy and relationship-building skills, which are critical in event production, can help us better understand the needs of diverse stakeholders and bridge crucial collaboration gaps. This ultimately enables us to deliver the client’s message in the best possible way. With a sharp eye to the complementary roles taking place outside of the ballroom, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to the entire experience, not just the message in the ballroom gives our team immense pride! Each member of our team serves as an inspirational figure for other women aspiring to enter the industry. We are constantly encouraging the next generation of women to pursue careers in event production with confidence, fostering an environment of inclusivity where everyone, regardless of gender, can contribute and thrive! 

Which women are you inspired by (locally or globally), and why?

A: I’m so deeply inspired by the Creative Group Senior Leadership Team, largely composed of women. Over 18 years ago when I entered the performance improvement solutions world almost every organization like ours, and including ours, lacked diversity in leadership. I’ve witnessed Janet Traphagen, along with our other senior leaders, evolve as such a force within our company and industry. Their commitment to lead through some of the most challenging times with grace and compassion has inspired me in how I lead.  

In addition, I truly appreciate and am inspired by our internal production team at Creative Group. Norma Smith, Deanna Lau, and Heather Buchberger make a challenging role look truly effortless. Together, they form a powerhouse team that not only exceeds our client’s expectations but makes working alongside them enjoyable and inspiring! 

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

A: If you’re just starting your career journey, focus on seeking out your professional passion. When you are genuinely passionate about your work, each day becomes an adventure and opportunity to grow and achieve. We spend so much time working in our adult lives, loving what you do is important! 

Also, remember that your professional journey is uniquely yours; be open to professional change as you grow and change. Should your passions take a new direction, don’t be afraid to take that leap and explore new career options; it’s never too late to grow! 

How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you? 

A: Encouraging women to lift each other in the workplace creates a positive ripple effect. Individuals, teams, and entire organizations benefit from this collaborative and supportive approach. Encouraging your colleagues builds a more equitable and professional landscape, sharing knowledge, encouraging collaboration, and being a better overall value-driven organization! 

I’ve experienced this lift recently through our in-house mentorship program and I’m deeply appreciative of my professional mentor in the workplace and all she’s done to help propel my growth; her request of me was simple and impactful – pay it forward! 

Liz Ferenciak

Liz Ferenciak, Digital Marketing Strategist

What does being a woman in business/marketing mean to you?

Liz (L): In my experience in marketing, I have worked with a wide variety of personalities in sales and marketing. I have realized that it’s important to adapt my communication style to fit the situation while still being true to myself. As a woman, it’s important to stay true to those feminine qualities while finding ways to connect with all genders in a way that is authentic and personal 

Which women are you inspired by (locally or globally), and why?

L: I am inspired by two women I’m blessed to know personally: Cindy Hock-Lauwers and Tami Eagle-Bowling. Cindy is the owner and founder of Shimmer by Cindy, a jewelry brand dedicated to quality and giving back through her Shimmer for the Cure collections. Specifically, she created the MBC Collection in honor of my mom, Nola, who passed away from MBC in 2022. I am inspired by Cindy’s goal to share beautiful jewelry based on her mother’s brooch, providing hope for those living with breast cancer and diabetes.  

Tami is a motivational speaker and Campaign Director of #LightUpMBC, whom I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering with. Tami presents in front of employees and people of all kinds to tell her inspiring story. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) over 8 years ago, and while there is no cure for MBC, she continues to defy the odds and thrive beyond her initial life expectancy of 2-3 years. As the founder and host of #LightUpMBC Live, Tami has helped raise over 1.8 million dollars for METAvivor to fund metastatic breast cancer research through 2023.  

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

L: You will deal with all types of personalities in your career, just know that you should focus on your goals while learning where you fit in. It took me a while to see which part of marketing I enjoyed most and I’m continuing to learn every day. Also, consider lateral moves in the company you’re at – it’s so important to learn all parts of the organization.  

How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you? 

L: There’s such a connection with other women in the workplace because we can relate in so many ways. Whether it’s another mother who must stay home with her sick child or a woman who is told she’s being “too emotional” at work, we all have been in similar situations. It’s so important to show kindness and understanding, especially when dealing with these difficult times life throws at us! One kind word can make all the difference.  

 

Here’s to women making ‘herstory’.