Collaboration is key to women’s success
Despite exceptions to the rule, Chris Reddin theorizes that men in business tend to be more competitive, while women are more collaborative.
That works out well for her, because economic development, the mission of the Grand Junction Business Incubator Center, where she is executive director, relies on collaboration.
Reddin is living her dream job, something she had her eye on since spending 2003 through 2006 as a client at the incubator. During that time, she worked as chief financial officer for an outdoor company, Mountain Sprouts. Before that, she spent 2001 through 2003 as a master’s of business administration student at Cornell University. She also worked as operations manager from 1997 to 2001 for bicycle-spoke-maker DT Swiss after moving to Grand Junction in late 1996.
Reddin helped form Cornell’s first business incubator and learned that women should wear pants instead of skirts and stick to basic black suits so they don’t draw attention to themselves or their gender, fashion advice the Philadelphia native has been able to ignore in jeans-friendly Western Colorado.
Men took up about 70 percent of the seats in her MBA program, but Reddin said she didn’t pay much attention to gender ratios when she was in school.
Her husband, who moved to Ithaca, N.Y., with her from Grand Junction while she attended Cornell, had more of a gender-based issue being a traveling spouse.
“They had a club for traveling spouses, but they did things like scrap-booking” because most of the members were women, Reddin said.
Her husband eventually found solace in a smaller group of a couple guys with wives in school. They chose pizza and beer over craft sessions.
Reddin’s husband, a Grand Junction Fire Department firefighter, works 24-hour shifts on intermittent days, which means he has more time on certain days to watch the couple’s 3-year-old and 6-year-old children. Reddin said having kids and an executive job is a juggling act, but she makes it work.
With more and more women in leadership positions in Mesa County, Reddin said she has plenty of moms to lean on for advice about when it’s OK to call in sick when a child is sick or leave to attend soccer games. She also is happy it has become less of big deal to be a mom and a manager.
“That’s exciting that it’s a non-issue,” she said.