A high-level executive from ESPN nearly walked away from her job before realizing she needed to rely on her team and ask for help.
Carol Stiff, vice president of ESPN’s content and digital business initiatives for women, turned in her resignation and prepared to take a job as a middle school health teacher in the early 2000s.
At the time, she recalled, she was feeling overwhelmed.
Stiff was in charge of figuring out how ESPN could air 48 basketball games from the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in four days on only two networks.
She ended up staying — and answering the challenge by surrounding herself “with all these brilliant, techy guys who would thrive on this stuff.”
“You don’t have to have all the answers,” she said.
Stiff was among three successful women executives who shared their experiences in business and life during the Executive Women’s Day held last week as part of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron.
About 200 female business leaders from throughout the region attended the event, which is sponsored by Astellas pharmaceutical company as part of a partnership with pro golf to promote women’s health.
During the panel discussion, the three fielded questions from the audience and moderator Betsy Kling, meteorologist from WKYC (Channel 3), about how to thrive in business while juggling work and family.
Stiff, who has two children ages 15 and 11, admitted finding the balance isn’t always easy.
She said she recently got in a car accident while trying to multitask by texting and driving. Luckily, no one was injured.
“I need to take that as a lesson learned,” she said. “I need to focus on what’s important in life.”
Dr. Vivian von Gruenigen, medical director of women’s health services for Akron-based Summa Health System, said she encourages other women to believe they can do it all, as long as they set priorities.
“Absolutely, you can do it all,” she said. “It does take some juggling.”
In her case, she said with a laugh, “I haven’t cleaned a toilet since the ’80s.”
“You have to know what you’re going to give and what you’re going to take,” she said.
Jennifer Bell, resident managing director and chief executive of insurance broker Aon Risk Solutions Northeast Inc. in Cleveland, stressed the importance of planning time for yourself.
“You need to sit down and think, ‘I’m going to plan time for me,’ ” she said.
Bell said golf allows her to take time doing something she enjoys while also providing great networking and client development opportunities.
She originally took up the sport because she noticed all the guys in her office were leaving in the afternoon to play — and leaving her with all the work.
“I fell in love with the game,” she said. “It really gives you time to get to know that individual.”
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.