Seizing New Opportunities and Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
Sioney Tomlinson, Senior Talent Acquisition Associate, recently stepped outside her comfort zone when she was asked to serve as moderator for the Women of NABA Empowerment Forum in Atlanta. Continue reading as she reflects on the experience.
How did you first get involved with NABA?
I got involved back in college. As an accounting major I attended some of the meetings on campus to learn more about the organization and to network while pursuing my degree. I joined the New York NABA chapter when I moved to the city following college, but I wasn’t super involved. When I started at DHG in Atlanta, I got back into the swing of things and become involved as a way to network locally.
How did the Women of NABA Empowerment Forum opportunity come about?
Ben Shaw, a Risk Advisory Manager in our office, is on the NABA board and they asked him if he had a recommendation for a moderator. He thought of me and asked if it was something I would be interested in. I didn’t know what the topic would be or who the panelists would be, but it sounded like such a great opportunity. I’d never done anything like this before and I was super nervous!
I knew what moderating was, I’d been to panel discussions before, but I kept thinking, how does it work? How does the moderator fit in to it all? Once I was given the topic and the questions, I hit the internet to do some research. I watched YouTube videos of women panelists and paid specific attention to the moderator – the mannerisms, how the moderator transitioned between each panelist and their different personalities. I did a ton of research because I was really nervous and I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing and representing DHG well. I kept thinking to myself I want to be the best I can be up there, and know what I’m doing. I also researched the panelists, and as I researched the women and everything they’ve done in their careers and in the community, I felt even more honored.
Leading up to the event I prepared cue cards for myself, which were really helpful. Of course I studied and knew the questions, and I’d read the responses from the panelists beforehand, but the cards helped keep me organized and focused on who I should start with for each question. With the nerves and so much going on, it definitely helped. I recommend REALLY big cards with huge letters in Sharpie!
Looking back on it now, how would you describe the experience?
I definitely felt very honored. So many DHG people came out to support me during a time that is so busy for everyone in our industry. They said we’re excited for you, but we would not want to be in your shoes! It was a good nervous, but as nervous as I was, the women made it really easy for me to moderate. I feel like we’re kindred spirits, and it was easy to talk to them and keep the conversation going.
Do you have any favorite moments or pieces of advice that were shared by the panelists?
SO many! Each of them had so many great things to share with the audience. My favorite moments were when we were laughing and joking around – there were a lot of those moments. The common theme from the women was to be you. To stay true to who you are and to not let anyone bring you down or tell you cannot do something- strive for it, work hard and maintain your goals. As different as the panelists were, they are similar in that they were all on a path to accomplish something at some point and they were knocked down by an occurrence or a person and they got back up. They dusted themselves off and kept going. There were so many nodding heads in the audience, of people relating to what they had to say.
I would absolutely do it again! It’s work- you’re preparing, you don’t know what’s going to happen- but it’s very exciting. So many women and men have come up to me- after the event or even via email/phone- to tell me how much it encouraged them. It was liberating for me to be an example and to encourage people. My DHG family was awesome! They all told me great job and congratulations, but even if I did mess up, my DHG folks would have picked me back up!
Sioney is a Senior Talent Acquisition Associate in the Atlanta office and has more than 14 years of experience in accounting and recruitment. Originally from New York City, Sioney earned her accounting degree from SUNY Albany and MBA from Georgia State University. Her Life Beyond Numbers includes traveling, cooking and hanging out with her best friend and partner, Patrick.