It didn’t take long for Courtney Ramos-Fincher, President and CEO of A.R.K. Ramos, to put into action something she heard at the most recent 2023 gathering of “Women Leading the Industry” (WLI).
The opportunity arose during an in-person meeting held at the ISA International Sign Expo in Las Vegas this past April, where Ramos-Fincher encountered a powerful concept: “When you limit yourself, you limit everyone around you.”
Ever since that moment, she has kept this idea at the forefront of her mind.
WLI, launched by the International Sign Association in collaboration with Sign Builder Illustrated, aims to provide women with an “a-ha” moment that can fundamentally transform their leadership approach.
The 2023 event saw participation from hundreds of women and allies, all engaging with the lessons from the book “How Women Rise” by leadership expert Sally Helgesen and leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith. The book identifies twelve common habits that hold women back, such as failing to take credit and taking on all tasks without delegation.
Lindsay Dyja, the lead project manager at National Branding, shared her experience, saying, “It was great to openly discuss the challenges we face as women in the sign industry, whether they are significant or minor, and to connect with others who can relate.”
Lori Anderson, the President and CEO of ISA, led the Women Leading the Industry 2023 presentation, offering insights from the book that she found particularly valuable.
The attendees were then divided into smaller groups based on the specific challenges they were encountering, which allowed for a more focused and interactive discussion.
Courtney Ramos-Fincher expressed her appreciation for the event’s tailored approach, creating a comfortable and supportive environment specifically for women in the industry, which also made it an enjoyable and valuable experience.
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ISA President Lori Anderson (far right) leads the Women Leading the Industry 2023 presentation.
WLI is not just about building fleeting connections but fostering enduring relationships that yield benefits for years to come. Using the principles outlined in “How Women Rise,” attendees were encouraged to go beyond relationship building and learn how to leverage their networks.
This idea resonated strongly with Dyja, who shared, “At ISA International Sign Expo, I had the opportunity to meet numerous installers, vendors, and influential figures in the sign industry. Having the tools to connect with them and the awareness to reach out will set me apart. I must utilize the resources I’ve been given.”
Dyja has always been career-focused, constantly on the lookout for significant opportunities and large rebranding projects in the future. She recognizes that her ever-expanding network is what empowers her to achieve these goals.
Networking and forging connections have consistently been highlighted as the key takeaways from the event, and this year’s WLI was no exception.
Ramos-Fincher emphasized the value of attending a women-only networking event within the sign industry, stating, “Women often face unique challenges in both their professional and personal lives, making it essential to have a supportive community for guidance and advice. I have the contact information of several women in my industry, and I intend to maintain personal connections with them.”
Building and leveraging networks hold great power, especially for women in an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated, according to Ramos-Fincher. She pointed out, “Women tend to have smaller networks than men, so it’s crucial for us to actively seek out opportunities to expand our connections. Attending a women-only networking event provides a valuable platform for women to connect with like-minded individuals and build a supportive community.”
Looking to the future, Dyja envisions a growing presence of women in the sign industry, saying, “As the sign industry continues to expand, so does the number of women in it. It’s important that we recognize there will come a time when women will play a dominant role.”
Whether women indeed take over the world or not, WLI is playing its part in creating an environment where women can assert themselves and take on leadership roles.