"The idea of an emotional 'dial'”
Updated: Jan 15
Bridget Kelly '20 | Little Silver, NJ
Major | Finance and Economics
Minor | Sustainable Development
So far in my experience at Lehigh in Silicon Valley, my favorite speaker has been Sandy Stelling. Originally, I thought that an engineer-turned- executive at an airline company would have few crossovers with a Finance and Economics major. Much to my dismay, however, Sandy captivated the entire LSV audience, not only as an honest and vulnerable leader, but as an extremely strong female leadership figure in a male dominated field. Sandy spoke candidly in a manner that captured the entire room during dinner, and shared personal stories that not only demonstrated the extent to which she cares about the people she works side-by-side with, but her genuine compassion towards the end airline user. Sandy introduced the LSV cohort to the idea of an emotional “dial,” encouraging us to embrace the fact that, as people, we read our audiences and evaluate our work styles accordingly. Personally, LSV has helped me to distinguish between my persona during one-on-one interactions, and how this differs from when I interact with large groups.
Sandy was not afraid to be real with us, showing that emotions can be brought into the workplace. Personally, I can get emotional when it comes to my personal passions. However, I always viewed the workplace as completely separate from my personal life, since I did not want to seem vulnerable around co-workers. After getting to know Sandy throughout the week, I gained a further understanding of the power of my emotions, and that, when utilized in the proper fashion, they can be used towards positive change in the workplace, rather than holding teams back. Silicon Valley has emphasized the importance of building communities in the workplace, to ensure that workplace teams have eachothers’ backs and are willing to commit to putting themselves on the line for their teams. Having faced difficult times both personally and for her team, Sandy demonstrated a level of genuine compassion that I would not have always factored into my demeanor in the workplace. However, the level of emotional dedication which Sandy exhibited to us all has helped her to leverage herself as a strong leader of any team she’s joined, since she can evaluate any internal and external challenges they face. In business, it's natural to be surrounded by men. However, Sandy opened my eyes to the fact that in order to see change, I must embrace the thrilling challenge of owning who I am in front of any audience I face.
As a female entering a field predominantly dominated by males, it’s tremendously encouraging to get to know a leadership figure who has excelled in their workplace with honesty and integrity. Throughout my experience here at Lehigh Silicon Valley, I can genuinely attest to the fact that hearing from female leaders in tech fields has sparked a sense of confidence in myself that I would never had gained on my own in Bethlehem.