Leigh Gallagher (A&S ‘94) Encourages Women to Lead with their Strengths

On March 16th, Leigh Gallagher (A&S ‘94) chatted with about twelve students over lunch about career paths and the media industry. Gallagher is the Senior Editor at Large of Fortune and the author of The Airbnb Story and The End of the Suburbs. After studying English at Cornell, she has had a terrific career in the business news industry, working at Fortune and appearing regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, Face the Nation, and more.

During the student lunch, Gallagher promoted her new article titled “Rise of the COO Support Group” that brings awareness to the rising number of women filling COO roles while CEO roles remain dominated by men. In the writing process she spoke with several female COOs – including Linda Findley from Etsy and Amy Bohutinshy from Zillow. While these women did not express concern about their positions, Gallagher encouraged readers to carefully watch companies in coming years to see if COOs are promoted to CEO roles.

Gallagher encouraged female attendees to be authentic in their leadership. “You can study management, but it is hard to be organic,” Gallagher said. Women face challenges in leadership roles because they are more likely to be perceived as unkind or cold when compared to men in similar roles. To manage this difficulty, Gallagher advised women to be “open to their own strengths.” Finally, she stressed that women must be direct when asking for what they want. She believes clear communication is paramount to business success.

To compete in today’s world, Gallagher stressed businesses must curate diverse teams. Not only do businesses need more women, but they need people of all backgrounds. “Diversity isn’t a checkbox thing; it’s a business thing,” she said.

To learn more about Leigh Gallagher, visit her website.