This week, we celebrate Kristy Wallace, a woman who helps improve the workplace for women everywhere as President of The Ellevate Network. Ellevate is a fantastic community of professional women, providing educational and networking opportunities.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Kristy Wallace
President, Ellevate Network
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
KW: I think about my career in terms of 4 phases:
Phase 1: Figuring it out. My first job was as an Investment Banking Analyst (which was a bit of a leap for an English major). While I liked the work, I quickly discovered that a highly structured, corporate environment wasn't for me.
Phase 2: Growing into my career My second job was at Vault.com. I started as a sales assistant and eventually became the VP of North American Ad Sales and then the GM of International Operations. I learned the value of working hard, thinking outside of the box, and being a team player. I also learned to believe in myself. There were many times when I thought that I was out of my league but I kept going and wasn't afraid to tackle the tough situations. I was very fortunate to have 2 sponsors (both men) during my time at Vault. They taught me a great deal about business and getting ahead.
Phase 3: Starting a Company
I was on the founding team of Zeel.com and I loved it. Many women think about starting their own businesses but are hesitant to make the leap. Working at Zeel taught me a great deal about trusting your instincts, developing a personal board of advisors, and the work that goes into raising money.
Phase 4: Finding My Professional Mission I'm now the President at Ellevate Network, a global professional women's network. I've never been happier. I believe in the power of women to drive better businesses, economies, and cultures and I'm blown away every day by the women I meet in the network. I've always had a passion for helping women and girls and now I am able to have an impact every day.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
KW: I am most proud of the Ellevate Network team. Every day I am surrounded by women (and a man) that are smart, innovative, hard working, and passionate. Collectively we all believe that we can make things better for women in business. I am also incredibly proud of the Ellevate Network community. Every time I meet a member, I'm inspired. I see how hard the community works to launch businesses, raise money, lead companies, and invest in other women. It is truly amazing.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
KW: For me, the biggest challenge has been figuring out work/life balance. I don't think there is one easy solution and it took a lot of trial and error for me to get to where I am now (which still needs some work).
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
KW: I read a lot. I'm addicted to crime shows. I hang out with friends (shout out to the Brooklyn Crew). I'd like to say that I go on long runs but that is a bit aspirational right now ;-)
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
KW: Right now I'm loving the Hunger Games series. I like the books better but the movies are really entertaining. I also really liked Room. I cried during the entire movie. A film hasn't had that type of impact on me in a very long time. Afterwards, my friend and I spent a lot of time talking about the movie, the characters, emotions, and scenes. That's part of what makes a movie good -- when you can't stop talking about it afterwards.
FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?
KW: This question is impossible to answer!
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
KW: Travel. My family loves to travel. Lately it has been trips to the beach as that is easier with little kids but I can't wait to start traveling to cities again.
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
KW: My Fairygodboss is my sister-in-law, Katie. She has been with me through many of my career transitions and has been my biggest cheerleader. I think it is always helpful to have someone -- be it a friend, family member, significant other -- who acts as a sounding board. I've worked through many business challenges when talking with Katie and since she is often removed from the situation, she provides great perspective and advice. At Ellevate, we talk a lot about the power of women helping other women and this is a perfect example.