Stephanie Noland is a Director at Jabian and one of the leaders of the Jabian Women’s Affinity Group (JWAG). In our continued celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Stephanie to chat about her role with JWAG and some advice for women in consulting.
Q: What is JWAG’s purpose statement and what is your role within the group?
A: The purpose of JWAG is to raise awareness and learn how to navigate and promote gender diversity for all colleagues, while ensuring our female colleagues’ voices are heard and their needs are met to let their whole selves flourish in our Jabian ecosystem.
My role as co-lead, with Nicole Rife, is to drive this purpose to realization through colleague engagement and programming throughout the year. The goals of JWAG align to other organizations I am involved with in the community, including Women Influence Chicago and Chicago Woman’s Club, which I co-established alongside two other women.
Q: What does International Women’s Day and its theme this year, ‘Choose To Challenge’, mean to you in your work life?
A: Choose To Challenge is incredibly motivating for me – I embrace this as challenging the status quo and just because things may have been a certain way in the past does not mean it should be our future. I also take it as a personal challenge – I have chosen to challenge myself to explore topics and history that aren’t mainstream to me – because as a leader I need to be aware of challenges beyond my life experiences and beyond my own community or demographic. I find this necessary for me to understand and embrace intersectionality.
Q: Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering a career in management consulting?
A: Don’t be afraid of being an “only” or one of few. Embrace your role as a trail blazer, but also listen to your heart and your own needs. I love what I do – consulting makes me thrive – but I listened to my heart, and my family, and I made a shift to Jabian two years ago to better balance my life. Consulting is a challenging career but I find it very rewarding to leave things better than I found them.
Q: Can you tell us about a role model who has inspired you during your career?
A: As I mentioned above, I didn’t have a lot of female leaders above me as role models during my career. But one thing I found to be valuable was practical and frequent feedback. The most influential leaders I’ve worked for, who became role models, even though they were male, were the ones who cared about me personally and would candidly give me practical tips and techniques to increase my impact or challenge my abilities. This could be as simple as post meeting in the hall debriefs, or guidance as I sought to increase my presence and impact with executive leaders at my clients.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment – personal or professional?
A: The things that bring me the most pride these days are small moments with my kids. My daughter loves unicorns and glitter but she is equally excited to get her monthly KiwiCo box for science and engineering activities. And my son is endlessly active and athletic but also deeply caring. Gender-based DEI is something that really hits home with me as I watch my kids explore the world filled with stereotypical expectations, and often blow them out of the water. So I am proud that my husband and I continue to support their exploration and let them continue to level gender norms for their generation.