Wendy Smith

Professor of Management, University of Delaware

Maria DeForrest

As a professor of management, Smith has a duel role as researcher and teacher. Her focus is on women in the workplace, and specifically leadership and business ethics.

Issues she addresses with her MBA students include interpersonal dynamics, paradoxical agendas and the #MeToo movement, and her goal is to help women build self-confidence; provide mentors, networks and support; and teach women how to navigate male-dominated industries.

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Smith’s proudest accomplishment, she says, is the Women’s Leadership Forum she codirected. “It’s a three-day program for mid-career women who want to jumpstart their career. We encourage them to open up about challenges they face in the workplace, and ultimately help them push through these challenges and beyond the glass ceiling,” she explains.

Of the 100 women who have enrolled in the program, 30 percent have changed jobs or fields entirely. “The forum also builds community and is a fantastic linchpin for fostering women’s leadership,” Smith says. Ultimately, Smith hopes to generate a broader conversation about gender dynamics.

Advice she wishes she’d received early on? “I wish that I knew how to effectively fail earlier—that is, learn from the failure and move on.” It’s also important to find trusting relationships. “Those people will support you in your failures and help you keep moving forward. No woman is an island.”

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