The Women’s Leadership Group hosted a WLI Uncorked: A Conversation with a Leader on May 23, 2018. The special guest was Debra Campbell, incoming ULI Charlotte Chair and Assistant City Manager, City of Charlotte, sharing some personal insights with the group.
What are your professional lessons learned along the way?
- Make an impact, don’t go for the title. A title doesn’t define who I am. Whatever you do, you don’t need a title to do it!
- Over the years, I have learned to surround myself with people who have allowed me to act and perform at the next level, before I was there.
- Do I have a personal board of directors? Informally, and most are former supervisors or people I have known throughout my career. I don’t tap into them often, but when I have some heavy lifting, they are there.
What are some personal lessons?
- Women get caught up in comparing ourselves. We define ourselves based on others. In your organization, seek to have an impact on a life.
- As women, we give of ourselves so much we empty our tank. I have learn to give to myself. Be intentional a keeping myself healthy and go beyond work to give back to myself, making my life more meaningful than my job.
- Don’t ask society to value us – value yourself. “Take a good look in the mirror and ask who you are and what do you want?”
- Have fun. Enjoy life. You only have one chance. Make it relevant and make it impactful.
- We get caught up in being like the guys. We are motivated differently – we are different. Your competition is not a man.
You talk about impact. What does that mean to you?
Neighborhood revitalization. It is something I can see. Impact are the relationships in neighborhoods throughout the community. The community has impacted my life more than I have impacted them. Over the years, I have learned to listen and not just go in and try to fix things.
What is success to you?
Contentment. Sometimes we need to search for contentment and success outside of our jobs, beyond the title and raises. I encourage you to be in a work environment that nurtures that success, especially if you are driven by honest intentions.
What are your plans for ULI Charlotte over the next several years?
- Bring different perspective to ULI. Diversity and inclusion is one of my top initiatives for the next two years. We need to include lots of voices and provide the resources of ULI throughout the community. Let the community know what we are doing to advance land use and to have a positive impact on their lives.
- In order to do this, we have identified two other areas to focus upon – Member engagement, Community engagement and focusing on a sustainable business structure for ULI Charlotte. We challenge you to help us diversify. Think about the people you know and touch and invite them into ULI.
Some final words:
Exhale and say to yourself, “Here are the things that I could have done better. And here are the things I did well.” Self-reflect and don’t always seek the external approval.
I wear a bracelet that says “Connection between your life and those you can change.” It is a reminder that my life impacts me and everyone I touch. I can make a difference.