This article is featured in the March issue of Seattle Business magazine. Subscribe here to access the print edition.
Kristen Forecki was Convoy’s 11th employee when she was hired back in 2015. Forecki now leads the fast-growing Seattle-based transportation logistics company’s quality and compliance, brokerage and supply programs teams, and is a key driver of company culture and strategy. Forecki founded Convoy’s Women@Convoy Employee Resource Group to support workers of color and other under-represented workers.
Before joining Convoy, which now has more than 1,000 employees, Forecki worked as a senior product manager at Amazon Inc. and a financial analyst at General Mills Corp. She serves on the board of the Washington Technology Industry Association and was named a “Top Woman to Watch” in 2019 by Women in Trucking Association, a nonprofit trade group. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Good leaders are humble and always learning. They’re resilient and rebound quickly from inevitable setbacks. They’re willing to make hard choices and committed to running the play as called but admit mistakes and pivot if necessary. Confidence is one of the most over-rated, over-rewarded attributes of people often identified as leaders.
People often mistake confidence for competence, and displays of hubris are much more likely to occur in men than in women. We often encourage women to display confidence in order to get the same opportunities as men, but that’s unhealthy for organizations. Instead, we should reward humility, emotional intelligence and other effective attributes. It’s up to the gate-keepers, who are usually still men, to recognize and reward those characteristics.
The gatekeepers matter. Seek out roles in companies — often run by women — with a history of rewarding women’s contributions. When that’s not available, become the gatekeeper: Build it yourself, either by starting your own venture or joining early.
Don’t do it alone. Surround yourself with as many strong women as you can find! Celebrate each other and encourage each other to reach for more. Many of the strongest cheerleaders in my life have come from my networks of strong women. They’ve allowed me to be vulnerable, break down and rebuild. They’ve guided me and inspired me. There’s always room for another strong woman at your table.
A network of talented, experienced and inspiring people is a critical asset to your career. My network has played a role in every material opportunity I’ve had in the last decade. Done right, networking is both fun and generous. It’s about meeting interesting people and helping or celebrating them. I love meeting thoughtful, passionate people, and I try to help them with their careers or their companies, often connecting them to other passionate people. I also rely on my network for help, and I’ve been blown away by people’s willingness to offer advice, expertise, connections and resources. Networking is also easier than people think. I met one of my best friends by sending her an email thanking her for a thoughtful presentation and inviting her to coffee. Not only did we become close friends, she’s also introduced me to many other fantastic women. I’ve met inspiring mentors by asking friends to introduce me to the best managers they know and kept in touch by asking quick questions over email or offering something back to the mentor, such as a relevant news article or a connection to talent. It’s possible to learn from and offer something to every person you meet, and your life will only get richer by adding more interesting people to it.
I’m happy with the choices I’ve made in my career, especially the chances I took even though I was nervous to take them. If I had it all to do over, I would have hesitated less and taken risks sooner. Now I frequently encourage others to be bolder as well. As Ali Partovi told me when I was considering joining Convoy, “Don’t worry about whether it fails; you’ll land on your feet. But what if it’s awesome and you miss it?”
Reading in my garden.
Oh, I Can Do That, a book demystifying “elite” professional and academic worlds.