The "WHY" behind the "WE" Story

With any change in life, there is a catalyst. Sometimes we live with things tugging at our hearts, but life gets busy and time becomes limited. We overlook those things, sometimes not even knowing there are other hearts being tugged as well. For many years I embarked on my career in the Electronics Industry, being very blessed by a few key male mentors that proved to be instrumental in my success as I aspired to reach my professional goals. I remember seeking female role models as well, but the numbers were limited and most of whom were not easily accessible, so I admired them from afar. 

The decision to have children posed a challenge in my career, as I realized I would be more limited in my flexibility and time, so I made the decision to stay home initially. Three children later and a husband that traveled the world, my time at home turned from months to years and proved to be some of the most busy, joyful, challenging, and rewarding years of my life.

When the opportunity presented itself, I accepted the offer to return to the same company I had worked for years prior and accepted my prior position back. Immediately I began going to the executive conferences and reuniting with colleagues from the past. To my surprise, after all those years had passed, I was still one of the few women. I remember being at a conference and feeling perplexed and asking another female associate where all the women were. I saw her scan the room, take it in for a moment, and then she replied, “I don’t know.” That “I don’t know” tugged on me from that day forward. I began meeting and talking with women any chance I could in the industry, and to my surprise, there seemed to be a universal “I don’t know.” I wasn’t seeing new talent entering our industry and that was alarming.

Fast forward to EDS 2017, when I contacted Monica Highfill, who I had met a few times at industry events, to talk about the concept of pulling the women in the industry together for a mini women’s leadership conference and she graciously accepted. That intended 45-minute lunch squeezed in between appointments and deadlines turned into a few hours and the birth of the First Annual Women in Electronics Leadership Conference. Directly leaving that meeting I met Amy Keller for the first time and instinctively knew we were all to become the “Three Musketeers.” Who knew that day the three of us together would become the Executive Team of Women in Electronics just months later.

The First Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, “Better Together” was created to determine if there was a need in the industry for women to come together, support each other, find mentors, and have access to leadership training on a more strategic level. One word that comes strongly to mind is validation. Our speakers were able to communicate the message in such a way that the room at times was silent. It was the recognition of the “I don’t know” and the validation that there had been a tugging on all our hearts. When I think of what “WE” stands for, it’s the comfort in knowing that we are all in this together. There were 20 women at that first conference and 16 of us became the founding team of Women in Electronics.

As a determined and passionate team, we organized the Second Annual Leadership Conference, “Better Than Our Best” to promote the idea that when you are passionately seeking change, you need to be better than the best you ever thought you could be. The concept of pushing past our own personal boundaries and finding strength in women helping women elevates us to the next level beyond where we could have reached on our own. The 20 women from the first conference turned into 80 at the second and the same validation occurred. Women left the conference with the knowledge that we are all better together and inspired to be better than their best! 

The Third Annual Leadership Conference theme was "Fear-Less" so that we can be reminded that fear will come, but we can advance anyway! When we educate ourselves and learn in collaboration with others, we will still have fear, but the fear will be less. When we develop our confidence by taking the next steps anyway, we thrive.

The Fourth Annual Leadership Conference will be held virtually with the Theme "Even Better Together", as we unite with our male counterparts and experience the first WE Conference together!

As Founder and President, I was merely the catalyst that brought the women together.  It is the entire WE Founding Team and our Founding Sponsors who have brought us to this point and without them, none of this would be possible. After a great deal of diligence, sacrifice, and heart, WE is set up as a non-profit organization with a professional structure.  Now WE invites YOU to be a participate in the progress! Join our family, recruit other women, support each other, and participate in our leadership training and development programs in efforts to build more leadership talent in the Electronics Industry.

We have come a long way from that first lunch at EDS in 2017 and look forward to building the organization to the point of serving all women in all aspects of the channel who have the desire to be their personal and professional best.

It is with great honor to serve you,

Jackie Mattox