Meet the Speakers - Women's Leadership Summit, June 2022

Talent Development
June 1, 2022

With the Women's Leadership Summit taking place in Chicago next week, PrimeGlobal spoke to Erin Lydon and Dr. Claire Carver Dias, both speakers at the event. As part of our DEI theme for June, we asked these successful leaders about challenges they have faced in their careers to what advice would they give to the younger generation.

Erin Lydon, Managing Director and GM of Poker Power

Erin worked on Wall Street when pay was secret and pregnancy was hidden. She has been one of the few women in the room in sports and esports too and now works as Managing Director and GM of Poker Power. She has mentored countless women who didn’t have the benefit of learning the skills taught through this game.

Throughout your career what are some challenges you faced and how have you overcome those challenges?

Women at all stages of their careers need to self-advocate and negotiate. Early in my Wall Street days, I learned a costly lesson, which 20 years later, I retold in my TEDx Talk on Equal Pay for Equal Work. The punchline is: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive, and I learned that the hard way.

Be present. Be kind to everyone. Early in my career, a very senior executive impressed me by how he casually conversed with employees across the firm from the young mailroom new hire, to the assistants, to the overnight staff. He valued everyone’s efforts to run the business successfully. Also, don’t take on the ‘wife duties.’ Don’t make the coffee, so to speak, or always buy the birthday cards or plan the work parties–those roles should be shared by many. And don’t ever just be the “note-taker.” If you are in a meeting, contribute.

Link yourself to the money. I counsel women to tie themselves to the money by owning the P&L, and if you’re not at a level in your career where you control the budget, you want to understand the P&L.

Erin Lyndon
There is no excuse for not understanding the numbers of the business, so seek out a mentor who will teach you the jargon and how a balance sheet works. More women need to get comfortable allocating capital, and that can start at the poker table. Erin Lydon, Managing Director and GM of Poker Power

What was your path to becoming a leader?

As a child, I wanted to be a writer. My first job out of college was as an editorial assistant at a small press in Chicago. A year later, I had quickly learned that correcting other writers’ manuscripts with a red pen wasn’t for me. I actually got my footing by saying “yes” to a babysitting job! The mother of the family ran one of the largest foundations in Chicago and took me under her wing. By age 25, I was in charge of over a dozen fundraising organizations and built a rolodex many CEOs would covet.

A few years later, I graduated from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business with a MBA in Finance and started a career on Wall Street. I was always good with numbers and even better with developing and cultivating relationships. Those two skills have carried me far, along with my willingness to take risks and say “yes” to opportunities even if I may not be fully prepared! With that mindset, I’ve run marathons, raced sports cars, served on corporate boards and coached 20 runners to All-American status.

I took a lengthy career pause to raise my two daughters and returned in an advisory role to several startups and then joined Evil Geniuses, a legendary esports organization, as the strategic advisor following their acquisition by PEAK6. In late 2019, Jenny Just, co-founder of PEAK6 and founder of Poker Power, asked me to step into the leadership role with this nascent business. At first I was hesitant, I had never played poker and, in fact, held negative stereotypes about the game. In reality, my leadership skills married with being a representative of our target customer, made me well suited to the role.

I love startups–I love running into walls every day and bouncing off. Once in a while, there’s a breakthrough and that’s what Poker Power is–born in Covid–we’ve come through the pandemic successfully by being nimble and pivoting to create a community across 40 countries filled with empowered girls and women who now think, strategize and allocate capital like poker players.

Dr. Claire Carver Dias, Founder, Clearday

Claire’s professional life has straddled the worlds of sport, business coaching, and academia. A PhD specializing in English and Communications and Cornell MBA, Claire has also won medals in synchronized swimming at the Olympics, Pan American, World Championship and Commonwealth Games. In 2003, she launched Clearday, her own communications coaching consultancy, combining her appreciation of effective business coaching techniques, and keen understanding of teaming, goal-setting, performance management, and communications, to help corporate leaders achieve their full potential.

Throughout your career what are some challenges you faced and how have you overcome those challenges?

There have been a few times over the course of my career when I’ve doubted myself and my abilities or felt like I didn’t deserve any success I experienced. There were moments when one mediocre review seemed to undo ninety great ones. In moments of feeling like an imposter, I’ve learned to weigh the evidence, and pay close attention to the positive feedback as well as the constructive feedback.

What is some advice you would give to women who are just starting in their careers?

Ask for help. Often, at the beginning of our careers, we want to prove that we know everything, that we can muscle through on our own. While working hard and endeavoring to figure things out is admirable, it’s also important to build allies and learn how to ask for advice, guidance and assistance. No one ever accomplished anything great without help.

Claire carver dias
I sincerely believe that leaders exist at every level. When I was an Olympic athlete, our coach often spoke about crucial acts of leadership, every day. I’ve thought about that a lot over the years. I aim to serve my colleagues, teams, clients daily with acts of leadership which take on different forms depending on the group, the time, or the need. Dr. Claire Carver Dias, Founder, Clearday

The Women’s Leadership Summit, a Talent Development Insights event, will take place June 8-10, 2022 in Chicago, IL. This annual event continues a tradition of high level thought leadership and provocative, frank discussions on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion including Women’s issues in the profession and business world.

For more information about the event, please click here.