Alandes Powell: Be an Advocate for Yourself and Other Women

Mar 30, 2021 12:15 PM ET
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Alandes Powell, vice president and business controls manager at Fifth Third Bank, has worked in the banking and financial services industry for nearly 30 years. Powell was recently named a UC Health 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Special Recognition Award honoree for her leadership in the creation of Cincinnati’s Black Lives Matter mural. She was also named one of the 32 power brokers in the Midwest by Madison365. She was recognized, in part, for her service as board chair of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and as a past board member for the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s Brighton Center.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day and the United States celebrates Women’s History Month in March, Powell is a believer that any woman can create a successful path for herself if that woman believes in her abilities, connects with people who are willing to help her and works hard to achieve her goals.

“Every day is our chance to make history, but we must be willing to do it,” she says.

Alandes answered the following questions regarding women advancing their careers.

1.)   Why is it important for women to have mentors and advocates?
We have to understand the difference between finding the right mentor versus finding the right advocate. And we have to be intentional about who we select for these roles. A mentor can guide us through our careers by offering tips and advice. An advocate can stand up for us in meetings where we may not have access. Both roles are critical as a woman navigates her career. It is also important to know that we can learn from those who we mentor and for whom we advocate.

2.)   How can a woman change her mindset when she’s ready to apply for a future role?
We have to operate as if we already have the role. We have to think differently, engage with the right people and perform in a high quality manner. We also can’t assume that others will automatically see our great work. A lot of times, women aren’t as comfortable as men when it comes to celebrating themselves publicly, but this can help them in the long run because it will give managers and senior leaders an opportunity to learn more about the good work they are doing.

3.)   What advice can you give to women who are seeking work-life balance?
I would suggest that women not overthink it and not look for it. Instead they should trust their instincts and adjust depending on the circumstance. My parents would always say that, of their five children, their favorite was the one who needed them the most. I think it is the same for work and life – there will be times when you have to put work last on your list because of the needs of your family. In those moments we have to know that our families are what is most important. There are other times when work will require us to prioritize it over our families. In those moments we have to show up and get the job done.

4.)   What are some success tips for women who are now working from home and who are home schooling due to the pandemic? 
Set clear boundaries: We can’t allow our work lives and family lives to mix. If you have to, wear a hat so your family knows you are at work and not to disturb you. This will keep them from feeling rejected when you have to tell them that you are on work calls. And the same rule applies for your family. Don’t answer work calls if you are engaged in family activities. Also, give yourself time to make the transition from home to work and vice versa. A suggestion is to play music when you would normally be driving into the office to signal that your work day is getting ready to start. And do the same thing at the end of the day when you are transitioning from working back into your family time. 

5.)   What are some of the ways that female managers can connect with their employees?
An unexpected text, call or email, just to say hello, with no other agenda goes a long way. You can talk about something personal or professional that you are experiencing. We all have burdens to bear, problems to solve and happy moments to rejoice about. Being transparent with our employees allows us to build relationships with them.

6.)   How can a woman stand up for herself in a male dominated industry? 
A woman can show up strong by using her voice to command attention but by doing it in a nondomineering way that will make people want to listen. We also need to encourage and celebrate female colleagues. Finally, when we see something that doesn’t look or feel right, we have to speak up on behalf of ourselves and others. Women’s history – and history in general – started with someone standing up, stepping up or reaching out.

To learn more about inclusion and diversity initiatives at Fifth Third Bank, please visit: www.53.com/diversity.