Recently we spoke with Megan Bozzuto, President of the International Association of Women (IAW), a networking platform for professional women to enhance their business, career, and personal success. Megan shared with us her journey and the insights she has gained from specializing in the development of women leaders.

One of eight visits to IAW local chapters for in-person networking events this summer
Tell us about your journey from entrepreneur/small business owner to a leader of an organization that develops women leaders.

I started my career in the corporate space after graduating with an accounting degree from Bentley University. I spent ten years working in various Internal Audit and Finance positions before taking a career pause to have children and spend time abroad.

I struggled to find my way back into the corporate world after spending nearly five years living overseas in Shanghai and Dubai. We had three small children by then, and I needed something that would offer balance and flexibility. I wanted to work, but I also wanted to be present as a mother.

During my time abroad, I supported marketing projects for my parents’ small business and used those skills to start offering freelance marketing services locally. It was through my network that I was offered a marketing consulting position at the International Association of Women (IAW). It started as a ten-hour per-week project with a very limited scope. As people within the organization moved on to other positions, the extent of my role increased.

Eventually, I led all marketing and programming initiatives and naturally shifted to full-time work. My financial background allowed me to dive into the strategy and operations of the organization, positioning me for the President role.

As much as I loved being an entrepreneur and impacting clients locally, I missed the corporate environment. The shift to my current role happened naturally, and being in a position where I can empower women every day motivates me.

Image courtesy of IAW
What do you advise your members to focus on to achieve career success?

There’s so much I could say here because I really think it changes based on where somebody is at in their career journey.

I’m going to offer these four areas:

Assess your values and purpose.

When you work within your purpose and find fulfillment professionally, things fall into place naturally. 

Professional development is never-ending.

Continuously examining your skills and identifying learning opportunities is essential to career growth. Whether it's industry trends, new technology, leadership skills, or something else, staying on top of these helps you stand out as a thought leader. Don’t forget to invest in your own development.

Focus on self-care.

As cliché as this sounds, the saying “you can’t serve from an empty cup” is so true. Women tend to underprioritize their self-care, which directly leads to burnout. I just recently spent five days at a wellness resort in Utah, completely disconnected from work. My to-do list had spiraled out of control, and I could tell I was headed towards burnout. I returned home refreshed and was able to find the focus that I needed.

Find a supportive community.

Mentorship is powerful, and research suggests it results in far better outcomes for those involved. If you don’t have a mentor, find one. You need a community where you can seek advice and support. Nobody should be on their career journey alone!  Mentors can be from your current job, a past job, an industry group, your university and even civic institutions. All they need to do is be willing to give their time to support you.

Finally, I want to add that there’s no easy way to the top. You've got to show up and do the work. If you don’t see results, take a very hard look in the mirror and examine your priorities and actions. It takes working in the weeds and getting your hands dirty to build a foundation -- that foundational work is so important. Don’t skip steps to try to reach the top faster.

Image courtesy of The Washington Post
Working from home has increasingly become the norm and can be both an enabler and disabler of women’s career growth. What advice do you have for women to benefit from this societal change and overcome any obstacles?

I’ve been a remote employee and managed a remote team for more than five years. The nature of remote work provides us with greater flexibility and options in how we work. Remote work allows leaders to tap into previously unavailable talent and companies would be doing themselves a disservice if they don’t allow flexibility. I recently hired a new marketing manager on my team. She had previously been commuting to an office and wasn’t feeling entirely fulfilled with the work she was doing. With three small kids, she now has the opportunity to be flexible and have a career.

However, missing face time in the office can have unintended consequences. In order for remote work to function for everyone, there need to be clear, open lines of communication, and remote employees need to stay engaged as much as possible. This means speaking up and raising your hand for new projects.  This is an area where a mentor can also be helpful.  

Working from home opens up many career growth opportunities but you need to be proactive and strategic to manage your career in this new world.  This helps to ensure you can work within your purpose and find fulfillment professionally.

Xander Shapiro

Xander is a seasoned General Manager and strategy leader with over 20 years experience driving profitable growth in both large CPGs and startups, including Del Monte and Akorn Technology. He focuses on businesses that deliver nutrition, health and wellness through fresh produce, plant-based foods, and botanical supplements.

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