In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, this is one of a series of profiles highlighting just a few of the impressive accomplishments alumnae of Grady College are making in their respective industries. For other profiles, please visit any of those listed below:
Maureen Clayton (ABJ ’80, MA ’84)) is the founder and president of Insight Strategic Communications and Nest Egg Communications. She is a four-time Bulldog 100 winner. Clayton also won the 2017 UGA Graduate School Alumni of Distinction for achieving exceptional success in her professional career and service to her community. Additionally, Clayton is a UGA Student Mentor and a UGA Libraries Board of Visitors member.
Grady College: How has your Grady education helped you in your career?
Maureen Clayton: I learned to write for business at Grady. As a student, I had some crazy notion that flowery, adjective-dripping prose was good writing. My professors taught me the value of writing that is simple, focused and concise. That’s helped me in every role I’ve ever had.
GC: What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as a female leader?
MC: You learn more from your failures than your successes. No one wants to screw up, but when you do, own it, put in a process to address it, and move forward. Resilience matters. Like Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
GC: Have there been any challenges to being a female leader in your field? How do you overcome those challenges?
MC: Every leader has challenges. I don’t view leadership through a male/female lens. I think attitude is at the heart of anyone’s success. My first management role was at a $5 billion electric utility where I was one of three women leaders and the youngest executive in the company. There were many meetings when I was asked who was watching my children or would I bring in the coffee. I just responded with humor and said “I’d love an iced tea, if you’re getting up.” Stuff like that never derailed me. Don’t make the small stuff big stuff. Never take your focus off the priorities.
GC: Do you have any advice for Grady students who aspire to be in a leadership position?
MC: Say yes to new experiences in every area of your life. Don’t be concerned if your career ladder becomes a jungle gym. It’s seldom a straight line to success. Many of the students I mentor are concerned that when they get out of school, the perfect job won’t be waiting. Often it won’t. But your skills will be transferrable to a role that will take you your next role. I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur, but that’s how my career turned out. If you’re a lifelong learner, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that arise.
GC: Are there any other comments you care to share about Grady College or women in leadership?
MC: I have fond memories of Dr. Lee Wenthe, the only female professor I had at Grady. There were just a few female professors. That has changed since I graduated. She was a role model for me—very cool woman.
I think women maybe more likely to value mentorship in the workplace. Many of my clients are female executives at large, global companies. Each of them is committed to mentoring early career colleagues. My advice for Grady students is to connect, network, and interact with alumni now, before you graduate. They’ll help you transition to your next chapter.