By Janelle Bieler, Division President, Employbridge | C200 member since 2023
“Purpose.” It’s a word that has become part of the corporate jargon in the past few years. “What is your purpose?” “Do you find purpose at work?”
“Purpose” has always been top of mind throughout my professional journey. At the end of the day when all the tasks are completed, at the end of the year or a strategic goal, what’s that bigger thing you are working toward? What’s the thread through all your professional endeavors?
Developing others and paying it forward have always been deep in my own sense of purpose. I believe in the power of “women empowering women” and try to be a leader who takes concrete steps to mentor, guide, and pull women up alongside me—women both within and outside my organization. This purpose of mine comes from looking back on my own career progression, which I firmly believe is a direct result of women who have taken the time to invest in me. It’s why I found my way into leadership at a young age, it’s driven my career decisions—and it’s what ultimately led me to C200.
The story of how C200 has impacted my professional life embodies C200’s mission to advance women in business, and it’s also a testament to the supportive and intimate ethos that exists among the C200 women. Even before joining C200, I’ve admired these women; they’re warm, welcoming, and always willing to share advice. Joining C200 has been an amazing opportunity to meet a sisterhood of exceptional women on a deeper, different, and more intimate level; it’s an experience you can’t get from just following someone on LinkedIn and admiring from afar. To meet these amazing women and feel their purpose and connection, all you have to do is reach out. The direct impact C200 has had on women in business, and on myself, is priceless.
I’m fortunate to have had different female mentors at various stages of my career. In particular, six years ago was a pivotal time in connecting with some significant mentors who also happened to be members of C200. At that time, I had sought out Joyce Russell, the top-ranking female leader in my work world. I admired not only her impact on the business, but also her exposure in our industry as a thought leader and dedication to advancing women. She was the epitome of what I aspired to be in my career, and although I didn’t know her that well, I went out on a limb, swallowed my imposter syndrome, and asked her advice.
That conversation—the simple act of asking someone for help—changed everything for me. Joyce pulled me into internal and external opportunities and introduced me to people who helped round out my skills and exposure. I grew immensely from those connections and learned the benefit of having a broad group of advisors outside of your company who can offer different perspectives.
That conversation with Joyce started this invisible thread weaving through my career journey that connected me to Larraine Segil, Linda Lore, and Corinne Ripoche—all C200 women (current and former) who made huge impacts on my career.
The thread continued from Joyce to an introduction to Larraine, who sponsored me to join the Exceptional Women Alliance (EWA), a women’s mentorship collaborative that she started. It was at EWA where I was introduced to formal mentorship and paired with the incredible Linda Lore. Linda’s mentorship and coaching has been instrumental in both my personal and professional successes over the past six years. She helped me navigate multiple new work opportunities, pushed me to sharpen my skills, and taught me how to be an effective mentor and coach to others. Through her coaching and development, I became a more effective leader and gained the confidence to start pulling other women up alongside me.
That confidence was recognized by another woman in my internal organization, Corinne Ripoche, who has been one of the most influential women leaders in my career. I reported directly to Corinne for the past couple of years, and when I think back to the leaders who’ve challenged me the most, she’s one of them. She pushed me out of my comfort zone by challenging me to think boldly and disrupt the norms. She left a lasting impression on my leadership style, teaching me how to truly transform business and make an impact on those around me.
Advancing female business leaders is at the core of C200’s values; it’s the reason I was so drawn to their mission and purpose. I look back at, admire, and give gratitude to the community of women throughout my career who genuinely took an interest in my development; like I am today, they too were driven to help others reach the top of the mountain. These women lifted me up by speaking my name in a room full of opportunities and helped me navigate the corporate world. They taught me how to be intentional about my career and that career ladders shouldn’t only move up; instead, career ladders can and should work both ways. As women leaders, whilst we should be focused on moving up ourselves, we also have a responsibility to reach back and ensure we are pulling people up along with us. Every day, I make sure that I lead with purpose and intent, to be available as a mentor for those who ask—someone who walks that talk as a female corporate leader.
Although my invisible thread to C200 began with me asking Joyce Russell for advice six years ago, it doesn’t end now that I’m a member. My mentorship experience throughout my career, particularly from women in the C200 community, taught me how to create those same invisible threads for other women, to extend mine to more rising businesswomen and bring them up the mountain, as women like Joyce, Larraine, Linda, and Corinne did for me. As a member of C200—a collective of top businesswomen who pay it forward—I feel even more empowered in that purpose today.