For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. This month, with our focus on retail, we continue our series with Joni Enders, who is currently a retiree devoting her time as a volunteer for Call Kurtis, a CBS Sacramento program.
25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women couldn’t show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better. They dressed the part to be at the boardroom, i.e., suits and ties. The Super-Career woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to rise the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation? The world for woman today is different, however mistakes can still be made as a women rises to the top of a competitive workplace.
Joni, who has always been a personable individual and had a knack for fashion began her career in retail as a student working part-time as a store associate at the department store, JCPenney. Although she loved clothing and interacting with others, Joni was first interested in law and contemplated continuing her studies in legal issues while working. However, Joni saw great potential and opportunities with JCPenney and continued her career in retail stating it was where she belonged. Joni was a part of JCPenney for nearly 40 years, retiring merely two years prior; what once started as a simple part-time gig spiraled into something much greater: the dream career of overseeing several JCPenney stores.
With Joni’s go-getter attitude, she moved up the ranks and did not recall ever reaching a glass ceiling. She considers all the opportunities she was given a learning experience. Although she had the chance to fulfill higher career roles (district manager), she was content with being a store manager in Wichita, KS. and then in Sacramento, CA.
In terms of balancing both her work and personal life, Joni delegated her time to each. She decided which one was going to require more of her time. Joni recalls that for the holiday season, her family knew she would be busy so she devoted a great amount of time to her work; it was her job and her family was aware. However, Joni believes one must always reserve time for personal life matters as well, stating that communication is necessary.
Jonie, who is extremely happy with her career outcome at JCPenney states she does not have any regrets. She was fortunate to have great positions and mentors who supported her early in her career. The only mistake she recalls is giving employees too much opportunity in order to succeed within the company; she had a tendency to allow people to work longer even though the job was not cut out for them. Joni recalls that in the end, it did not benefit the company or the individuals involved.
From her experience, Joni has a few pieces of advice for those who are new to the workforce. She states that one must find a career that is incredibly rewarding and fulfill one’s needs. Joni believes mentorships are very important; she believes a mentor provides support and acts as a confidant. Not only should one seek a mentor, one should also be a mentor. She also believes one must find a way to stand out from the crowd. Joni stresses that knowing one’s audience is vital because one must know who and how to speak to specific individuals. By knowing one’s audience, there is a greater potential of acknowledgement.
For a detailed Q and A about Joni, read below:
1) How long did it take you to reach to the top of the corporate ladder?
It took me about 29 years [to be a store manager]. I was on the District Staff where I was a District Market Merchandiser in both San Diego and Hawaii. For Hawaii, I was in charge of deciding what Moo Moo dresses we would sell in the stores. From the color, print, style, etc.
2) Did you change yourself to fit into the career world?
Yes, you have to. You have to know your audience. As a leader, I made sure my presence was appropriate. I asked a lot of questions. Internally, you’re always the same person, but you have to change yourself depending on who you’re dealing with and what position you have.
3) If you could do it all over again, would you do the same thing?
That’s a tough one, I don’t know that I would change anything, I grew to become the person who I am now and I am extremely happy with the outcome. Jcpenney provided me with great opportunities and learning experiences. Not sure if I would be happy in law compared to retail. With my go-getter attitude, retail was perfect because there was always something new.