The Salo team is packed with extraordinary women.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked seven women in key roles at Salo to tell us about their career journeys and share some advice for people starting out. Luckily, it turns out, their advice applies to pretty much everyone. Take a minute to get inspired by their insights!
Lisa Brezonik, CEO
What’s your proudest career accomplishment? I think leading through 9-11 and leading through this pandemic. I care deeply about creating an environment where people feel supported, respected, and challenged. That’s easier to do in good times. I am proud of decisions my team and I made when it was not as simple and easy.
Tell us about an obstacle you overcame. There are so, so many. My biggest challenge has been approachability. When you are the leader in the room people often defer to you without asking questions or challenging your thinking. I want input. But my physicality and passion can suggest I am more confident in my position than I might be. I know I am better when I’m fully informed and hearing others’ ideas and perspectives. I am always trying to ask for input and demonstrate that I will use input from others.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? Understand that your perspective is just that—yours. There are always at least five other perspectives on a problem and even more perspectives on the solution. Slow down. When you understand and appreciate other viewpoints, you’ll be more successful.
Lois Depiesse, Managing director, south and west regions, finance
What is your proudest career accomplishment? Hiring and training a high-performing sales team. What makes it even more special is that most of the team did not enjoy what they were doing before joining my team, and they absolutely love their jobs now!
Tell us about an obstacle you overcame. The biggest challenge was the year I became a mom. It was a huge blessing—I love being a mom—but trying to give my best at both home and work was a challenge. Figuring out that I don’t have to be all things to all people was (and still can be!) a big learning curve. I had to learn to delegate, reshuffle my to-do list, and know when I needed to say “no” or “not now.” I got very clear on timelines of deliverables both at home and at work.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? The hard work will pay off. Take on new projects. Expand your network and connections. If you don’t enjoy a role, figure out what you do enjoy and go look for that. Your career and life are too short to do something you don’t enjoy.
What’s your proudest career accomplishment? I would have to say my first promotion. Looking back, you enter the working world having very little idea of anything—including if you are going to be successful. My first promotion was a big exhale for me to realize things were headed in the right direction. And, it has just gotten better and better and better from there.
Tell us about an obstacle you overcame. I started my career in a very male-dominated law firm. I was put in a leadership role at a very young age. It was a huge obstacle to be able to build credibility with the leadership team in that environment.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? I would pass along my three favorite pieces of advice:
1) No one is going to set boundaries for you, but they will respect the boundaries you set,
2) Don’t be afraid, and
3) Operate as if you should be in any room, meeting, conversation, or setting just as much as anyone else should be—because it is true.
Amy Langer, Co-founder
What’s your proudest career accomplishment? Seeing the many great woman leaders of Salo do great things. They lead with their minds and their hearts. It’s special because I have always wanted a corporate environment that is inspiring and allows individuals to be their best self. Seeing others succeed, grow, and develop has been brought me pure joy.
Tell us how you overcome obstacles. I like to think of obstacles as learning opportunities. I am a stronger (and I would argue better) leader today for what I have overcome—for the tough experiences and having lived through them. I have found the key is to acknowledge the challenge, then have a pity party (be mad, upset, etc.), and then move forward. The more resilient and quicker I can recover, the better I am.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? Be bold, yet vulnerable. Don’t limit yourself. It’s ok to say, “yes” when you are unsure. It is also ok to ask for help and guidance.
Lindsay Schneider, Managing director, Minneapolis finance
Did you have an important career mentor or advocate? I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by amazing individuals throughout my career. There is a group of women that I connect with frequently that have served as a sounding board as I navigate challenges and my cheerleaders through successes. They have grounded me when I’m off base. I think it’s important to surround yourself with individuals that will continuously challenge you, motivate you, and support you.
What is your proudest career accomplishment? Honestly, being able to juggle being a wife, mom to three, and still continuously advance in my career makes me proud. I’m proud that my children can see my passion for work, but that I also have been able to make time to show them how important they all are to me.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? Network! Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others in and outside your organization. Then, take the time to truly get to know them.
Stephanie Tuntland, Controller
What’s your proudest career accomplishment? At a previous employer, my boss gave me 100% ownership/management of a large compensation project. It felt like a lot of pressure at the time, but looking back, it gave me confidence. I realized I could take on areas of a project that I didn’t know much about and succeed by using all resources available. There’s power in delegating, asking questions, and admitting you don’t know all the answers. My boss’s confidence in my decisions and direction in the project (which resulted in a successful implementation) is something I’ll reflect on when facing challenges my entire career.
Tell us about an obstacle you overcame. Early in my audit career, I was one of the only professionals of my “class” that was not immediately suggested for a promotion. While I was immediately confused and disappointed, I took the initiative to meet with the partners and listen to ways I could improve. In those discussions, I learned one partner initially voted against me. Instead of avoiding the issue, I met with him immediately. It turned out to be a great, open, and honest discussion. I came away with learning how to be courageous and stand up for what you know you can achieve and deserve. I ended up getting the promotion the following day.
What’s your advice for people just starting out? Learn to be comfortable with questions about your work. Questions mean that what you’re presenting, providing, or discussing is resonating with folks enough for them to engage with you. Questions are not a challenge or mean something is perceived as wrong or incorrect. While it’s still something I’m getting comfortable with, I remind myself that questions mean that what I am saying is engaging and important to my audience. And, that feels good.
Colleen Frankwitz, Talent connection director
Did you have an important career mentor or advocate? I was fortunate to have a great female leader as a role model. Watching her communicate and collaborate helped me get a vision of what a great leader is. She leveraged every team member for their strengths. She made people feel valued by asking for input and turning their ideas into action. Her actions helped me understand exactly what kind of leader I wanted to be.
What’s your proudest career accomplishment? I was given the opportunity to build a leadership program. My own leader believed I could do it and supported me. It was such a rewarding process. I worked with many leaders in the organization to discover, design, and deliver the content. Over time, I could see the impact of my work in the organization. As a matter of fact, I just had an old colleague reach out to say that he is still practicing many of the approaches and concepts. He thanked me for that. It feels amazing to know I made a difference!
What’s your advice for people just starting out? Always be self-aware and work on yourself! How are you showing up? How are others experiencing you? Even if you have a strong foundation of knowledge and education to stand on, you’ll need to practice self-awareness all the time. You may struggle daily, but that’s how you’ll grow!
Salo is a nationwide talent firm focused on reimagining the workplace to meet the needs of today’s professionals. Our services focus on matching senior HR, finance, and accounting experts with organizations that need their help (on a contingent, project, or permanent basis). Contact us to learn more.