Janelle Bieler is the new Western Division President for Employbridge, the largest staffing provider in the United States. Before this new position which she started at the beginning of May, she was President of Adecco, a company that provides first-class HR solutions. Janelle also sits on the board of ACSESS and is a mentor with the Exceptional Women’s Alliance. One way Janelle loves to spend her free time is by having movie nights with her husband and two daughters. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada, but will be moving soon to California. She has been a member of C200 since February 2023.
Eva Glassman: First, would you like to introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Janelle Bieler: Thank you Eva! I’m thrilled to announce that I have started a new role as the Western Division President for Employbridge, the largest staffing provider in the US. Many people ask what staffing firms do, and the simplest explanation is that we match great people with great jobs. I have been in this industry for the past 12 years, and I truly love the impact we make on people’s lives and our communities by giving the gift of employment.
EG: What do you think is the most significant factor that’s led to the success of your career?
JB: I believe in the power of “women empowering women,” and when I think about my career progression, it is a direct result of women who have taken the time to invest in doing that for me. I look back at the women throughout my career who have lifted me up by speaking my name in a room full of opportunities and helping me understand how to navigate the corporate world. Even how I came to be a member at C200 is an example of that! Joyce Russell has been with C200 for quite some time, and she was the one who brought me in and somebody that’s been super influential in my career in terms of helping lift me up.
EG: That leads to my next question! Did you have any female mentors at the beginning of your career? What women have inspired you and why?
JB: I’ve been fortunate to have had different female mentors at various stages of my career, but about six years ago was a pivotal time career-wise that led to connecting with some significant mentors. At that time, I was with Adecco and had gone to Joyce Russell, who was the top-ranking female leader in my work world as the President of our US business. I told her, “I’d like to continue moving forward in my career, and I want to understand how I can get involved with organizations that provide female mentorship. How can I find more women mentors like yourself?” Those questions and simply asking someone for help changed everything for me. Joyce pulled me into internal and external opportunities (including C200) to introduce me to people who would help me differently. I grew immensely from those connections and learned the benefit you gain from diversity of thought and experience when you have new people outside your internal company sphere of influence that offer different perspectives.
One of those external connections was Larraine Segil, also a member of C200. Larraine started the Exceptional Women Alliance, a women’s mentorship collaborative, where I was introduced to formal mentorship. Larraine and my mentor Linda Lore have been instrumental in my success over the past six years. Lastly, another C200 International member (I’m starting to see a theme here!), Corinne Ripoche has been one of the most influential women 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 pushing me to think differently, disrupt the norms, and think boldly. She left a lasting impression on my leadership style, teaching me how to truly transform business.
EG: You’ve spoken about this a bit already, but what does being a “woman in business” mean to you, and how do you apply that thinking to your work as a corporate leader?
JB: Something that I say quite a bit to women leaders both inside and outside my organization is not to get caught up in the idea of only moving UP the career ladder. Career ladders work both ways and while we should be focused on moving up, as women leaders, we also have a responsibility to reach back and ensure we are pulling people up along with us. I feel strongly about that and try to lead in a way where I’m doing concrete things to help mentor, guide, and pull women up alongside me. That applies to people within my direct reporting or even people that are outside my organization. I try to make sure that I’m available to mentor people who ask, offer advice, and be somebody who walks that talk as a female corporate leader.
EG: Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?
JB: I love that question! I have an amazing husband and two little girls, a ten-year-old and a six-year-old, that encompass my time outside of work. I love Peloton, I do that every morning for my own self-care and sanity, but my weekends are for family time. Whether that’s kids activities, dinner with my husband, or movie night at home, I try to really focus on family time on the weekends. Like many of our C200 women, I travel quite a bit for work, so I’m not always there for dinnertime, after-school things, or even school concerts, which makes Friday night to Monday morning critical family time.
EG: Your daughters are at such a cute age!
JB: My oldest daughter is turning ten at the end of May, and she really wanted to dye her hair, so I took her last weekend to get “mermaid hair,” so now she’s got purple, green, and blue hair. My parents never let me dye my hair, so with my daughter, I was thinking, “This is my moment to let them do it,” because it’s just hair, it will fade out! [laughs] I wish somebody had let me do it when I was young!
It’s so cute to watch my girls; they love to get ready with me when I’m home, and I cherish those moments when they want me to braid their hair or pretend to put on makeup with me. It’s really fun to see my girls growing into confident and kind women. I love seeing the world through their eyes and being reminded of how being a working mom creates a strong female role model for both of them.
EG: What is your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs and leaders to advance their own careers?
JB: Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. I think one of the best things I’ve ever done was asking Joyce—I don’t even remember what the question was—but I basically said, “I want to be like you one day. What things can you tell me that I should be doing now in my career?” If I hadn’t asked that question, doors may not have opened. Sometimes we feel that we’re bothering somebody or not even sure of the question to ask. The more we can get comfortable with asking and talking to people, even just asking for advice and not being afraid to do that is essential. It starts a conversation, and you never know where it will lead; if you don’t start the conversation, you’re never going to find out what you missed. That is the advice I always give young women who ask what they can do – to start the conversation and not be afraid to ask questions and reach out. What’s the worst that someone’s going to say? “Oh, I don’t have time to mentor you or have coffee?” That’s ok! Somebody else will. Don’t be afraid to ask.
EG: I completely agree. I always try and put myself out there. It’s so easy to think, “What if they say no?” But the flipside is just as true: “What if they say yes?” You won’t know until you ask.
JB: And yet we don’t because we suffer from Imposter Syndrome – we all have it no matter what stage of our careers we’re in. I think it’s more prevalent when you’re young in your career because you’re so nervous to ask people for help or questions. Any time you can make somebody else feel comfortable when asking those questions is important, and it pays dividends for that person in the future that they get more comfortable in that space and even in themselves.
EG: Imposter Syndrome has been more in the conversation over the past few years. It was only until a few years ago that I heard that term and thought, “Oh my god, that is my experience!” It’s been nice to see very honest discussions about it so publicly.
JB: I think we’re doing a much better job now, too. I’ve been in the corporate world since graduating college, and the narrative has changed significantly in the last five to ten years. People are getting more comfortable with being vulnerable and talking about those things, and I don’t know if it was like that when I first started. People were more protected, and they didn’t talk about those struggles. So, I appreciate that change in conversation because it goes back to what I said before; the more we talk about things, the more we ask questions, and the more we realize that everybody goes through similar situations. You learn by talking about it and opening yourself up to conversation. I love to see that progression, and I hope we continue to see the shift toward being more upfront, honest, and vulnerable about what we’ve gone through, so it can empower other people.
EG: Especially since the pandemic, I’ve really appreciated the shift in work culture to being more empathetic toward each other in these bureaucratic and corporate settings.
JB: I agree. It makes people more authentic, too, because when we think about being on calls with people in lockdown and their kids and dogs are in the background, you get to know people differently. I feel like it made people open up more and start to be like, “Okay, well now, even if we’re going back to the office, how can I continue to have that sort of relationship with the people I work with?” That was a significant shift. We didn’t think that way before. It’s the silver lining, right?
EG: What are you most excited about as a new C200 member?
JB: There are so many things I’m excited about! I’m a bit of a fan girl with C200—I mean, look at this amazing group of women! They’re so accomplished, and I think there’s so much that I can learn from them. I really admire all the women here at C200, and I’m excited to start the conversation and get to know them, what made them successful, and learn from them. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know this sisterhood of women on a different level beyond someone I might admire from afar and follow on LinkedIn. I’m thrilled to be here!