Laurie Bouillion Larrea is President/CEO of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. The nonprofit administers a broad range of programs to address local workforce issues with business-directed objectives, including job training, workplace education, child care and educational initiatives to provide the necessary support for every resident of Greater Dallas to be successful at work.
Larrea talks career and the biggest challenges facing women in the DRC’s on-going Q&A series for Women’s History Month.
What female figures have had the biggest influence on your life?
There are many amazing women who touched my life and helped define my experiences. These women share intelligent minds, courage beyond their gender, love of family and friends, and a commitment to self-reliance. Many were great storytellers. My mom and dad inspired sons and daughters equally with little reference to gender bias.
What are the biggest challenges facing women today, and what can employers do to help their female leaders excel professionally?
Employers who want to retain strong women leaders must assist women in making decisions that are both life-affirming and purposeful for the business. Choices should have a win-win option. Asking women to make decisions that appear to sacrifice unnecessarily will likely drive those women to employers who have structured better options. Also, employers must be more inclusive of “aspirational” female leaders! Best practices include contributing to their growth and giving equal voice to women in setting company policy.
What is the one piece of advice you wish you received before you started your career?
There was a phrase for young women in the 1970s: “Women can have it all,” and I embraced it. Over time, I created a phrase that better describes reality: “Women can have it all, just not all at the same time.” I lucked out in many respects, but today I encourage other women to manage their outcomes. We must plan the outcomes, do the hard work, and embrace reality. Get an education before a family OR have your family early? Join a large workforce OR run your own business? With a good plan, proper education, and hard work, it’s all possible – over time.
If you could write you autobiography, what would its title be, and why?
“Go Where You Are Guided.” Believing in yourself is a huge part of success. It requires the ability to “gut check” your decisions, manage the risk, and embrace your imagination. Trust yourself to make YOUR decisions. This builds a life of little regret. It’s also critical to remember that purpose is as important as passion.