On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, Mary Kay's Future Senior Sales Director, Katie McMahon, was asked how she came to be one Kennesaw State University's "Phenomenal Women" guest speakers for the annual Georgia event.
I called just to see when the conference was, because my daughter had been in a near fatal car accident [in the past], so I had stepped away from a lot of those types of responsibilities. And when she [Joann Trodahl] heard I was available she wanted me to give a speech," Katie said.
McMahon says that her speech at the 2013 KSU Phenomenal Women's Conference isn't the first time she has spoken at the event, therefore. And she is really looking forward to presenting her topic this year, which is "Unleash the Power of 'I CAN'".
And who better to say "I can" than a woman who has risen to one of the highest ranks in the beauty field, and at one of the leading cosmetic companies in the industry? But this Mary Kay director isn't bragging. And, in fact, Katie McMahon has been saying she can for quite some time, like when her 20-year-old Army daughter almost died and needed rehabilitation therapy following her near-fatal crash.
Katie said "I can" then, assuming the responsibility of nursing her daughter back to health, which took months. And despite doctor's negative prognosis--that her daughter would likely never walk again, nor have children-- McMahon says her now 26-year-old daughter eventually did both. In fact, the Mary Kay leader says she is about to be a grandmother for the third time thanks to her daughter. And she says God proved the doctors wrong.
Faith appears to be a driving force professionally and personally for McMahon, and she referred to it a number of times during the course of her interview. For example, the beauty leader also credited her commitment to following Mary Kay's faith-based priorities in business as a big reason for her success: God first, family second and career third.
If you get your priorities out of order; your life gets out of order," she said.
Katie doesn't feel she always had her priorities in order, and even feels that working in corporate America can lead to misplaced priorities by companies too, saying that "Prior to Mary Kay I was working in the corporate world in the travel industry. I was working 15 hours a day for a corporation that I felt wanted me to give my family whatever I had left over when I got home."
She said that wasn't what she wanted, and that an incident that happened in the corporate world after the Sept. 11 attack, which involved a fellow woman employee, really hit her hard and made her reevaluate her life.
A woman that was just returning to work from an absence due to breast cancer was let go because she was the last one hired," she said. "And there was no understanding; there was no nothing."
It was then that she realized that "there is no heart" in big corporations, but that "Mary Kay is all about the heart." And so she began to commit herself to that career field instead. "In that corporate world I felt like they were trying to put my light out, but in Mary Kay I'm able to let my light shine," Katie said.
McMahon, who oversees a unit of approximately 100 other beauty consultants, tries to mentor the women in her unit, which is something she said was lacking on her other job. She also tries to give her customers "Cadillac service," because she sees them as more than just a person to sell a product to.
And it is that spirit of generosity that KSU seeks to impart as well with their phenomenal women's conference each year, asking women of different backgrounds and experiences to come together in order to partner with, inspire or help change the lives of one another for the better.
However, it wasn't a female that the Mary Kay director credited with being her biggest mentor in her goal of achieving phenomenal success in the professional world; it was her husband Scott.
He is my hero of heros," she said during the Tuesday interview. And she said that if he had not been in her corner she couldn't have enjoyed the success she has to date.
When asked who helped her climb the ladder at Mary Kay, which is predominately a female company, Katie straddled the line between her mother, who is a national sales director, and other women in the organization, such as Pamela Shaw.
The beauty of Mary Kay is that everyone who has gone before you is a mentor. My mom was a national sales director, but we don't always necessarily listen to our mothers, and she knew other people were more my personality type, so she encouraged that."
Katie McMahon feels she has been blessed with a career that offers her the flexibility to be a wife and mother and business woman on her own terms. And on Friday during the KSU Phenomenal Women's Conference she plans to tell other women at the one-day event how they can too.
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