Basketball season is returning soon, and fans are excited about what this season will bring. This past June, the Big 3 of the Miami Heat brought home a championship after a 4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. There’s no denying the talent of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, as well as the other supporting men on the team. But did you know a woman is calling the shots upstairs? Eve Wright Taylor is the Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the Miami Heat, and we got a chance to interview her about her role on the team, as well as her role in her marriage:
BMWK: The sports industry is most certainly a male-dominated field. Did you ever feel discouraged as you worked your way to the top? As you moved up in your career, were you met with any negativity from men who were either the same position than you or a lower rank, because of your gender?
EWT: I think its natural to feel frustrated when obstacles present themselves but its what we do next that frames your success or failure in the situation.
In terms of navigating through a male dominated industry, it starts with perspective for me. I am fortunate to live and work in a time in which I am able to stand on the shoulders of those women and minorities who sacrificed life and limb for each of us to have an equal opportunity to succeed. And while all of the “-isms” haven’t been eradicated (e.g. sexism, racism, etc.), navigating those circumstances is about how I choose to respond; I can either be discouraged and allow it to stop me before I get started or I can honor this incredible opportunity and rich legacy of success left to me by succeeding in spite of those who try to stop me. I feel indebted to them (both the leaders and the nameless and faceless people in the trenches of those movements) for their sacrifice and am obligated to protect that legacy by succeeding and to continue to grow it by holding the door open for others.
So, when I encounter the “-isms,” I do a few things. First, I seek counsel with a small group of people I trust to keep me objective and focused on the forest as opposed to being mired in the weeds. Second, I learn the dynamics of the environment and plan accordingly (e.g. who are my allies, what’s the culture, what tools are available to insulate and protect myself, etc.). Last, but certainly not least, I blow the doors off of the task or objective and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
BMWK: Congratulations on your pregnancy! Did you ever feel like you either had to choose between a career or starting a family? Did you intentionally plan to focus on your career before starting a family?
EWT: Thank you for the well wishes!
I never really felt like I had to choose ““ thanks to those female pioneers in the Corporate America. I do recognize there was a time, in the not too distant past, in which women were required to choose between the two and that some women still feel that way. There is certainly room for improvement in how many companies handle maternity leave and support work/family balance.
While my career has always been important, my family and lifestyle are equally as important. I’m careful too about guarding against one being “all consuming” in my life and I make decisions about my career, family and lifestyle accordingly. In terms of starting a family, I didn’t start earlier because I thought there was way too much traveling and exploring I wanted to do myself, and then with my husband when I got married, before having little ones running around!
BMWK: You’re still young! How did you accomplish so many things so quickly?
EWT: Honestly, I’ve been very fortunate to have people pour their experiences and hindsight into me. I’m very diligent about asking questions and leveraging information. I don’t believe in recreating the wheel; someone has been there and done that so I try to learn from their experiences when I put together my strategies to achieve my goals. I think this piece is crucial to success and avoiding common pitfalls, which may slow your ascent. I feel so strongly about it that I have founded an executive development program for women through which I share stories of lessons that I’ve learned and strategies to help other women handle similar situations.
BMWK: How do you plan to balance your demanding career with your obligations to your family? Do you plan on taking time off from work? What advice do you have for women who want it all: a thriving career and a happy family?
EWT: I am planning to take some time off but my balance plan is to have lots of help!!! LOL One of my mottos is that I’m not Superwoman and I’m not interested in her gig or her title! To me, that means that I’m not going to have it “all” but I’m going to have the things most important to me. I’m certainly dedicated to my family and career but I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive when it come to also taking time to make sure I take care of me. So how does that work for me? I prioritize to what I can commit and accomplish, clearly communicate those boundaries and delegate the rest! Admittedly, sometimes I’m more successful than others but, at this point, I’m thinking I’ll approach it in the same way. I’ll let you know how that plays out.
Thank you Eve for providing BMWK with those valuable tips on how to face challenges in the work place, “isms”, and on how to balance having a successful career and a family.
BMWK: Please join us in thanking Eve Wright Taylor for sharing with us. Have any of you had to choose between having a successful career and family? Can women have it “all”? What do you do when you encounter “isms” in the workplace?