In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting women’s achievements throughout the month of March. The women’s history theme for 2023 is, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” With this in mind, we are taking time to celebrate and recognize the stories of some of our own women leaders at Longbridge Financial.
The next feature in our “Ladies Who Lead” series is Melanie Parks, Longbridge Vice President of National Field Sales, who discusses why her mom is her role model, how to thrive in a male-dominated industry, and the advice she’d give her 20-year-old self.
Q: What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
A: Women’s History Month is a chance to celebrate all women and the wonderful contributions we’ve made throughout American history!
Q: How does Longbridge set a culture of equality and inclusivity?
A: Longbridge does a great job of promoting the best person for the position, regardless of gender. Celebrating achievements and allowing for autonomy is at the forefront of the way Longbridge operates, no matter the make, model, or style!
Q: Who is your female role model?
A: My mother was a strong, independent entrepreneur and she is my role model. She didn’t let anything hold her back! Once she set her mind on something, she focused and achieved that goal. She was a well-rounded woman: a general contractor who owned her own businesses, an equestrian, a loving wife, and an incredible mother. She would work outside with my father without a moment of hesitation, cutting wood for the winter, building a deck, and so many other projects.
My brothers were championship wrestlers when we were growing up. My mother was the team mom, but she didn’t stop there. She also joined the board, and ultimately became President, of the Kern County Wrestling Association. She was extremely active in the community to ensure all wrestlers had the opportunity to join the club and had the appropriate equipment to wrestle, no matter their social status. I know she was an inspiration to many throughout her life.
Q: What is one piece of advice to all women who are juggling between home and work?
A: I believe you CAN do it all! But it’s all about balance and priorities. My advice to those trying to find work-life balance, make sure work is your main priority at work, and home is your main priority during non-work hours. Balance can be tricky, but I believe it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
Q: What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?
A: I am fortunate to have never felt held back by my gender. I work hard, focus, have a plan, and strive to be the best leader I can be by following through on my commitments. My advice to those who are struggling is to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. More often than not, people get in their own way by not going after what they want. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t always get everything you want when you want it. Sometimes you must be patient and wait until the opportunity presents itself again, perhaps in a different way. But keep trying and it will pay off, as long as you do your part! People will see you for who you are, and what you can contribute, when it is the right opportunity.
Q: How can women find mentors?
A: Mentors are all around you! I’ll admit it’s not always as obvious as you may think. Look for someone you admire, someone you’d like to emulate, and ask if you can take them to coffee to pick their brain. This could be multiple women in your life that have traits and achievements that you’re interested in learning more about. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Q: What do you think helped you get so far in your career?
A: This advice comes from my parents: work hard, don’t be afraid, and own your destiny! As a kid, they frequently pushed me out of my comfort zone which taught me that it’s perfectly okay to start over and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. “What is the worst that can happen? You get ‘no’ as an answer?”
Q: Do you believe you have achieved everything you wanted to?
A: I believe I’m still achieving what I want out of life. There are always goals to strive for and work to be done.
Q: What would you say to your 20-year-old self?
A: It’s all going to be okay. You won’t always get what you want, but each time you hear “no,” stick with it, and come up with a new plan to get a “yes.”
Thank you, Melanie, for sharing your insights and for being a strong leader and role model!
About Women’s History Month
Celebrated annually throughout the month of March, Women’s History Month dates back to 1981 when Congress authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” It wasn’t until 1987 that, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA), Congress and the President proclaimed March as Women’s History Month.
Since then, presidents have annually proclaimed the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” This recognition honors the contributions and achievements women have made throughout American history.
The women’s history theme for 2023 declared by NWHA is, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” To learn more about Women’s History Month and this year’s theme, visit https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org.