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Women in Business: Q&A with Joanie Courtney, SVP Market Development, Monster Worldwide

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Joanie Courtney is Senior Vice President, Market Development, at Monster Worldwide. Ms. Courtney is responsible for advancing the company's customer engagement strategy, utilizing Monster's breadth of technology and advertising solutions and driving more consultative client relationships.

Ms. Courtney is an employment industry expert with over 20 years of experience leading sales, marketing and operations for some of the top firms in the employment industry, including executive roles with two of the largest employment firms in the world. Throughout her career she has counseled and worked wide range of companies including many of the Fortune 500. She was responsible for oversight of a world class customer service program for a multibillion dollar employment firm and also led a large business process transformation project to grow retail professional business at Adecco, NA, which is the largest employment firm in the world.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am the oldest of four children and in true form of birth order; I took a leadership role early in life. My leadership ability has come from great role models and mentors, starting with my parents. My parents taught me the value of hard work, honesty and treating others with respect. I have also been fortunate to work for some incredible leaders that have invested time and attention to helping me grow and achieve success. Most importantly, the experiences I've encountered in both my personal and professional life - both good and not so good - have taught me a great deal. I, like so many others, have made mistakes along the way and I've had my share of bumps and bruises in life, but they have all shaped me into the person and leader that I am today.

How did your previous employment experience aid your position at Monster?
I have spent the last 20 years in the employment industry and have held senior leadership roles in sales, operations, marketing and business transformation. I have also worked with small to large size employers on attracting, recruiting and retaining top talent. That said, I believe I bring a well rounded and fresh perspective to Monster at a time when building an employer brand and recruiting and retaining top talent is crucial for any company's success.

It's also a time when the job search has become more important than ever to so many people. We are entering a time when the workforce will soon be dominated by the Millennial generation - a generation experiencing one of the highest rates of unemployment at 16.1 percent. It's incredibly fulfilling to use my experience to meet the needs of this generation, and bridge the gap between generations in order to develop and retain successful working relationships.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Work/life balance can certainly be a challenge but it is all about priorities. As we all know, balancing and juggling a career and family can be a big challenge. I have received great advice from many mentors on how to balance it all but the best advice has been - Be present! Be present when you are at work and be present when you are with your kids and family. It is not always easy to do but I really try to practice it daily. I try to protect my evenings and weekends to spend quality time with my family. Obviously, travel and meetings can interfere but it is a balance and my family is very supportive. Planning is probably the most important part of balancing it all and it takes a lot of effort to keep my calendar, my husband's and the kids' activities straight. I also make it a priority to be present for the important events - birthdays, school plays, games, etc. In addition, I always make sure we have quality family vacation time twice a year to get away from it all and just enjoy each other.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Monster?
It's been exciting to help get information about the labor market into the public eye, pulling from the resources at Monster's disposal. With the state of the employment market in the last 5 years, we've been able to address important workforce- and career-related issues, offering a point of view that helps consumers understand the overall employment picture. We spend such a huge portion of our lives working and I've seen too many people unhappy and not enjoying their jobs. I really feel every person should love what he or she does for a living. I have enjoyed helping Monster communicate that message and likewise helping get people into jobs that make them want to jump out of bed in the morning.

The biggest challenge at Monster is the size and complexity of the business. Given my role and because Monster is a large global company, I need to understand many facets of the business and comprehend a tremendous amount of information. I am learning about the history, our current state, and where we are headed in the future. Simultaneously, I am learning about the market, competition, and industry trends from a new perspective. I learn new things every day and it's been important for me to continue to ask lots of questions.

What advice can you offer women seeking a career in the employment industry?
The employment industry is such a wonderful and rewarding field to work in. It provides you an opportunity to make a positive impact in individuals' lives and offers you the chance to learn and grow in new areas. There are many aspects to employment from attracting and recruiting talent to retaining and developing the talent and so much in-between. There are also great opportunities to innovate and improve this industry and make a difference.

My biggest piece of advice, for job seekers looking to enter the employment industry or any industry, would be to make sure it's something you are passionate about and really love. To do this, take some time to go on informational interviews with industry veterans and spend some time researching industry news and trends. I truly believe that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think too many women feel that they can't attain their dreams. Don't be afraid to pursue your passion and don't let others hold you back. I believe you have to love (or at least like) what you do and be passionate about it. Life is too short to be in a job that you don't find satisfaction from. Sure, we all have tough days, but you need to find something that you love to do and that makes you want to make a difference. If you can't figure out what it is - try new things until it clicks for you. Maybe it is a new department or responsibility, a new industry or an entirely different occupation.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I enjoyed reading "Lean In" because I could relate to how Sheryl felt in making some big career decisions, especially when those decisions would affect her family. I loved her openness and candor about how she was intimidated and fearful at times but most of all, I loved her desire to not let anyone hold her back. She pushed herself and put her best work forward and, in turn, she has reaped the rewards of her hard work and effort. As I've said before, I think it's important to overcome intimidation in pursuit of what you really want to achieve.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have been lucky enough to have some great mentors and role models in my professional and personal life. I recently read the book Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, which focused on the importance of bringing out the best in others. She writes about using your smarts to hire great talent and then find ways to bring out the best in them, which will equate to greater returns in productivity. I have worked for great "multipliers" that exude this theory. I also have been lucky enough to have some great mentors early in my career that have coached and guided me along the way.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire Oprah Winfrey and all she has overcome and accomplished. She is such a powerful and positive force and I admire her desire to push herself, her generosity, and her ability to inspire and motivate others. I also admire Carly Fiorina, Marissa Mayer and Meg Whitman for climbing to the top seat of the Fortune 500. It is still hard to believe we only have 23 female CEO's in the Fortune 500 and I admire these women for leading the way.

What are your hopes for the future of Monster?
Monster is a phenomenal company with incredible talent, products, and services. My belief is that Monster will continue to help customers with recruiting technology innovation and talent search for many years to come. Monster has incredible capabilities, knowledge and data around employment trends and talent attraction and retention. I want to be an integral part of the success at Monster because I believe in the technology, and most of all, the difference we can make in the world of work.