Women leaders are a rising force in the business world. Kim Vierheilig, vice president of LAN Associates, and Sally Glick, principal and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co., offer their perspectives as businesswomen and female leaders in the Meadowlands and share how they have overcome challenges as pioneers in male-dominated fields. They both are the first female partners at their respective firms.
Encouraging fellow women in architecture
Kim Vierheilig is a licensed architect and the vice president of LAN Associates, an architectural and engineering firm headquartered in Midland Park. She graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Albert Dorman Honors College with a Bachelor in Architecture and M.S. in Management in 1999, and went on to become LAN’s first female partner.
“In a profession that boasts 106,000 licensed architects nationally, of which only 15 percent are women, very few female architects rise through the ranks to become partners in architecture/engineering firms,” Vierheileig said. “My promotion to partner in 2013 marked the first time in LAN’s 50-year history that a woman received an equity stake in the company. I am thrilled to be in a position now where I can mentor other women in my firm.”
In addition to her leadership role at LAN, Vierheilig is also Women in Architecture chair for the American Institute of Architects-NJ. Working in a male-dominated field, Vierheilig says she understands the need for women to network and empower each other to overcome their unique challenges.
“When I first started out of college there was basically no kind of networking group or anything that was geared to women. Now you have so much stuff and people are willing to actually share stories,” she explained. “I think that Women in Architecture is a platform to me to try and reach out and help women who are coming out of college, who maybe don’t know exactly where their careers want to lead them.”
Her advice for young aspiring woman leaders is to not be afraid to take risks and put oneself out there.
“After reading Lean In, it’s true, most women aren’t the ones to raise their hand and be the first to tackle a new challenge,” she said. “We need to be willing to put ourselves in unfamiliar situations, and trust in ourselves to know that through hard work, and our talent, we will be successful.”
Vierheilig says she has a positive outlook for women achieving more leadership roles in the future.
“I think we’re moving in the right way. I’m optimistic,” she said. “As I go out to clients, I see more and more women in leadership roles, so I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Building a network & achieving through hard work
Sally Glick has over 30 years of experience in accounting firm marketing. She starting by working for her father—a sole practitioner CPA in Chicago—after graduating from Northwestern University and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Business Management. Since then, she has risen to the role of principal and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co., a public accounting and consulting firm based out of Livingston, and was the first female partner of the firm.
Glick has received a large amount of recognition from the New Jersey business community, as the recipient of NJBIZ’s Lifetime Achievement award and as a member of the New Jersey Business Hall of Fame, among other honors, but she says her success at Sobel & Co. has been one of her biggest rewards throughout her career.
“Being recognized by outside organizations, that’s definitely awe-inspiring, but when your own organization says ‘this is how much we trust you, this is the kind of influence that you exert here in our firm as a leader,’ that has a different feel about it,” Glick said.
Another great reward, she says, is the ability to connect people and establishing a network throughout the community.
“It’s about building, and nurturing, and maintaining meaningful relationships,” she said. “My goal in the community, in addition to my responsibilities to my firm as its ambassador, is really to connect people and help make everyone’s lives a little better.”
Networks and relationships are exactly what Glick says can help more women earn a place in traditionally male-dominated fields.
“You tend to recommend people that you know, that you’re comfortable with, who kind of look like you and sound like you, and that means men perpetuate a male board because that’s what they know,” Glick explained. Change will come naturally as more women become involved in the business world, she says. “We’re getting some really high-profile, wonderful women stepping into these industries and professions, so it’s changing—and the more people are there, and the more diversity there is, the more likely it is for diversity to breed diversity.”
“My mother used to say to me ‘You can be anything you want to be,’ but she never stopped the sentence there. She’d always say, ‘If you work hard.’ So I think that’s the key,” Glick said.
Laura French is a freelance reporter and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.