First, off Rhonda could you tell our audience a little bit more about yourself? Where you grew up? What do you do? And what you aim to do in the near future?
I was born in Fairfax, Virginia and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area.
I have been self-made person and have worked since I was 12-years-old. I worked for everything. Nothing was handed to me and I wouldn’t change a thing because it has taught me to be risk resilient and focus on the end game. My mom instilled in me early on that with work hard (and while reaching for the stars) anything is possible once you put your mind to it.
My competitive side came out in sports. I was involved in swimming, gymnastics, diving, cheerleading, volleyball, softball, skiing, scuba diving, cliff diving, and more. Just fell in love with sports since 6 years old and I am a swimmer at heart.
I studied Business, Communications, and Spanish at George Mason University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
With the global leadership roles throughout my career, It has caused me to travel the world. Over the past decade, I most recently served as the former Chief Technology Officer of Estee Lauder, and I am currently President of nThrive, with experience leading international teams of up to 40,000 people around the world across my career. Managing and leading large teams requires your presence and you can’t sit in the US behind a desk and call yourself a global leader. My philosophy is that you have to live in the culture.
I believe that in order to succeed as a global leader, one must take off the blinders and truly experience the culture no matter where it is in the world.
In the near future I am aiming to spread my heart across the globe. This means giving back and helping others.
I also am going to be traveling back to Africa for a run to take the community girls running across the Serengeti for 30 Miles over 2.5 days.
This one is really amazing and I am also going to be speaking to females from a Tanzanian tribe about leadership, motivation and empowerment.
I read that you constantly train and compete in for various events, what is the driving force behind doing so?
Training keeps me sane! It gives me a sense of accomplishment. My theory is that an individual’s personal wellness must be a top priority in order to achieve one’s major corporate goals. As a competitive athlete and avid runner dedicated to a strict fitness and nutrition regime, I am constantly training for and competing in events – over 65 so far, including triathlons, half-marathons, marathons, and IRONMAN triathlons (single-day races that consist of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.22-mile run).
I attribute many of my most prized leadership qualities, including motivation, perseverance and a stellar ability to navigate the daily struggle of balance, to my active and healthy lifestyle that is the impetus for my day-to-day accomplishments.
I always tell my team if you do not take care of yourself, then you cannot manage a team.
What have you learned from traveling internationally, when it comes to other cultures? This can be the similarities and differences that you’ve compared to your own life.
I would say my travels have caused more of a spiritual connection in India and Africa. I was just talking about this yesterday with someone that I love that it has caused my eyes to be more open that way and not be so “U.S. focused”. There is just something about giving back in the community and spiritual connections around the world. It has enabled me to open up and I wouldn’t say I question myself. It’s pushed me to give back whether it’s in India with an orphanage, which I do, or in Africa has taken on a whole new life since my last trip. We are doing Women Empowerment and Male Empowerment, running through the Serengeti. It has caused me to take a pause and say, “I want to continue to give back and help others even more around the world. I want to share my heart around the world, literally, not just in the United States.”
Could you tell us about your recent trip to Africa? What truly opened your eyes based on the experience?
I just came back from the most inspiring trip. I was able to go and meet with folks there to share my passion for technology and wellness.. As one who practices what she preaches when it comes to cultural immersion, I wanted to go for a run in Tanzania so I simply asked the hotel for a good route to try. The concierge mentioned that I would need to have security guards with guns accompany me because of the dangerous animals that would be on the trail. Turns out, I was the first female to ever request an outdoor run, and I went for it regardless.
I ran two days in a row and on the second day, a large group of locals decided to join me on my twelve mile running trek. Many of them said that they were inspired, as they rarely have the opportunity to enjoy exercise given the environmental hindrances. This wellness experience enlightened me on how much we take self-care for granted here at home.
What would be the best advice to give young women and girls when it comes to understanding their own empowerment?
Don’t think of yourself as a female vs a male executive. That is the wrong motto. Be yourself, and let your results speak for themselves.
Speak up and show your point of view. Make sure that you are adding value to every conversation and every meeting. Being engaged is a great way to showcase your abilities.
Dress at work as if you are meeting with your CEO daily. Always dress for the job that you want. Exuding confidence is very important as well. You may have reached your peak leadership position, or maybe you still have your eye on it. Either way, play the part to achieve your goals. Carefully curate yourself to act in a distinguished and respectable manner.
Keep track of your personal goals and your team’s goals. Make sure to measure them and track your progress. Remember that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This will help to create a baseline, and then you’ll be able to see growth. It will also help you to see areas where you are lacking and maybe need to increase your efforts. Business is not a one-woman or one-man game. It takes a team of people with quality contributions to make a working collaborative product.
Always be on time, prepared and educated on the topic being discussed. Don’t scan documents before meetings or skim important memos. You must know your material, backwards and forwards. Preparation is the bottom line, and it’s a pivotal quality in successful individuals. While personality is excellent, it won’t get the job done. Proper preparatory measures are taken by the most responsible and aware individuals. These are the people you want running an event or project, because they can think on their feet and execute tasks the most effectively.