By: Emma Smith
Dr. Robin Walters-Powell chats about her experiences as a woman in power
Dr. Robin Walters-Powell the chair of the University of Findlay’s Department of Health Care Services. She is also the advisor for UNITED and Phi Alpha Honor Society. Outside of her work at the university, she is also a practicing therapist. In addition to her profession life, she is also a mother. She is the first interviewee of the Women in Power series.
What does leadership mean to you, and what’s your leadership style?
“Leadership means to me the opportunity to grow without being put in a box, you do not have the limitations. Being a
leader means that you are willing to jump in and do the same job that everyone else, you supervise is also doing. Being a leader is always being honest and being true to your word. I also think that you have to be honest about your limitations and giving yourself that creditability by admitting where you struggle. One of the things in my field of social work, is that people often times wanted the quick fix to issues that come up. One thing that I have learned throughout the years is to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will get back to you with it.” It is in that answer that integrity and honest follow through comes from.
My own style of leadership is very democratic in nature. I always tell my students that I learn just as much from them as they will from me. My knowledge that I share in the classroom comes from my life experience and experience from being a social worker and clinician. They also have life experiences that are equally as valuable. I welcome the opportunity to welcome everyone into the conversation.”
What quality do you think makes a great leader?
“I think the best quality is that you are willing to do whatever you ask of others.”
What advice do you have for women looking to grow either their own business or within the company they work for?
“I think connecting with other people who are in similar roles in important. I am not even talking about the people you work with, but external support systems. They will give you are broader world view and insight into what is happening in their company. There is a lot of good groups that are available, LinkedIn is also very good at that sort of thing.
There is also a lot of training out there and self-help for you to learn. Whatever your priority is, you will make time for it.”
Do women in your profession have a hard time getting promoted and why do you think so?
“I tell my students all the time to put themselves out there. They often look at job descriptions and say, “well, I don’t have this qualification.” I always tell them to go for it anyway because you never know what they will say. They may say, “go ahead, and get that qualification while you work here.” You have to put yourself out there.”
Does Kamala Harris’s new position have an effect on women’s empowerment?
“I am very happy about Kamala Harris for the obvious reasons and for the societal unrest that we are facing. How great that we have a woman of color in that type of position? That is such a great role model for all of us. The saying goes, if you can’t see it, how can you be it. Harris is there so now people can see it and it is obtainable.
I also think it challenges all the gender stereotypes because now we have a First Man in the White House. Her husband, Doug is setting such a great example for men and what his position represents. It is not just about her but also about them as a couple. Also, they are a biracial family. I think they represent modern America. Her position also takes the fear away of the lack of opportunities.”
What are the ways you implement self-care?
“You have to make sure that you schedule time for self-care. Scheduling a massage or something, the same way you would schedule a meeting. It is also important to compartmentalize and not take work home. I try to be as present as possible when I am home.”
How do you balance your career, personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?
“This can be tricky because in our society, the role of mother falls on us harder than it does for any other parent. You can have a two person family but normally the child-care and house-hold duties tend to weigh heavier on the mother. I have two girls and have a career that has been very busy. Not only am I a professor here [The University of Findlay] but I also am a clinician on the side. I believe that for myself I have to first have good self-care, something that we usually put last. We have to take care of ourselves because if we are not full, we cannot fulfill other people.”
Photos courtesy of the University of Findlay.