Categories: National Pen News

International Women’s Day at National Pen

Sing it with us: Who run the world? Girls! While Beyoncé lyrics are always appropriate, they especially ring true as we approach International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on March 8th, is a global day honoring the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It began in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland with over one million women and men attending International Women’s Day rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, hold public office, and end discrimination. In the past 100+ years, there have been incredible strides made in women’s equality. Still, there is much more progress to be made, which is the motivation to keep marching, advocating, and raising your voice.

#BalanceforBetter

Every year, there’s a new theme for the campaign, and for International Women’s Day 2019, it’s Balance for Better. The theme invites us all to think about what we can do to create a more gender-balanced world, from the boardroom to media coverage, to the government. Share your ideas and perspective by posting a photo of yourself with your hands out for balance, and don’t forget to hashtag #BalanceforBetter and #IWD2019.

The Powerhouse Women at National Pen

We want to take a moment to recognize, and celebrate, the hard work and dedication of all our female employees across the world, from San Diego, California to Dundalk, Ireland.

Here are a few of their stories:

Dana Sobotka, Global Director of Paid Media Marketing

What do you do here at National Pen?

I’m the Global Director of Paid Media Marketing, which means the majority of my time is dedicated to new customer acquisition on the web.

How long have you worked here?

Eight years! I’ve been in the web department the entire time, and when I started it was a team of just four or five. At that time, I was responsible for paid media, affiliate and display ads, SEO, analytics, onsite content, merchandising, and pricing. Basically, we wore a lot of hats and had to own everything from start to finish!

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

Personally, my mom. She is just so selfless. She’s been supportive my whole life, even caring for me in my 40s when I was critically ill.

Professionally, Melissa Naraval, our Global Senior Vice President of eCommerce. I’ve been working with her for 13 years; she was my manager at a previous company too. She is a great leader who empowers people to think, brilliant with numbers, and always takes the time to teach and educate. Both of us are ethnic women in a field that is definitely now more diverse, but if you go back 12 years, it was male-dominated. To have someone like her that I can relate to is something I’m really grateful for.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

I would tell them to believe in themselves. And for those in my field: knowing the financials and understanding the data, and how you can impact profit, is going to make you powerful.

What inspires you in the workplace?
From the time I interviewed at National Pen, I’ve always been seen as an expert and I’ve always felt like I’ve had a voice here. I’m also endlessly inspired by the opportunities—I can’t unsee the opportunities!

I could be better at ________.

Saying no and letting go. I’m a yes person, and I always want to fix the issue. I’ve taken on projects because I’ve had to, but now that we have a larger team, I could be better at giving those opportunities to others. Really what that’s about is empowering people to step up and take ownership.

I’m proud of ________.

My continued growth and perseverance and hopefully setting an example for my two daughters.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it put things in perspective. Suddenly, as busy as I was at work, all that mattered to me was being there for my two girls.

There’s a term that someone in one of my support groups said that struck a chord with me: Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). While there is a ton of PTSD with a cancer diagnosis, the PTG speaks to not going back to your old ways—you have this clarity and confidence. In some way, the diagnosis gave me even more of a voice. I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I wanted anymore. Out of all the places that cancer has impacted in my life, it’s helped me in my career to be stronger and more confident.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

*Scrolls through Spotify playlists and laughs* I have a lot of classic rock on here, but I’ve always loved “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.

Cammy Stronks, Senior Global Product Manager

What do you do here at National Pen?

I’m mostly focused on figuring out what writing instruments we want to sell—anywhere from following up with vendors, our different offices, marketing managers. It’s exciting because I never know what the day holds, and I get to work with teams across the world.

How long have you worked here?

I’ve worked for National Pen at total of 15 years, seven with National Pen and eight with our retail division National Design.

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

My mom. She put herself through college, she had kids, and was an accountant. She was all about taking pride in your work.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

Don’t judge a book by the cover. Keep an open mind and always look for new opportunities. I created opportunities for myself by asking questions. Play to strengths. Admit where you struggle.

What inspires you in the workplace?
I’m inspired by how many women in our company have been growing and moving up. There are so many opportunities for women here now. I’m also inspired by the comradery and collaboration across teams.

I could be better at ________.

Getting a broader view of what’s important rather than what’s on fire at that moment.

I’m proud of ________.

The accomplishments in product development that I’ve been able to contribute to over the past 15 years. And I’m proud of where we’re going!

Is there a co-worker that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Bonnie Shimrat. She’s been here for 30 years and what I appreciate about her is her “never say die” attitude. And she’s always really encouraging, no matter what’s going on.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

I’ve gotta go with Beyoncé “Who Runs the World”!

Dinah Ponce de Leon, Email Specialist

What do you do here at National Pen?

I’ve been the Email Specialists in the ecommerce department since last July, and before that I was a Graphic Designer.

How long have you worked here?

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

Personally, I look up to my mom because she had to raise three kids on her own while my dad was in the Navy. She was a nurse, so taking care of patients at night and then kids during the day kept her very busy and she never complained about it.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

Listen and learn from the pros in your industry, network, and above all, never give up!

What inspires you in the workplace?
Seeing companies with a social responsibility to give back to their communities and work towards a greater cause.

I could be better at ________.

Not procrastinating and heating healthy food!

I’m proud of ________.

My kids for their accomplishments and also being kind to others.

Is there a co-worker that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Gloria Krainock and Bonnie Shimrat. They always have positive and supportive attitudes.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

“Titanium” by Sia.

Disha Singla, Data Science Leader

What do you do here at National Pen?

I lead the data science efforts. What that entails is taking the data to drive meaningful insights to make it a better customer experience and improve revenue.

How long have you worked here?

A little over seven months.

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

My mother, and with good reason: my mother lost her mom at an early age, but she always gave us the care and love she missed in her family. I’m the first engineer in the family, and my mom took the first step in sending me to a school that taught English. Everyone in the family had a basic education, but she supported me to go into engineering. She taught me to reason, and to stand up for the right thing.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

Believe in yourself. And always think you’re equal. What we perceive of ourselves is what others perceive of us.

What inspires you in the workplace?
I like working with and learning from smart people. I like sharing, inspiring, and encouraging people.

I could be better at ________.

Mentoring, fostering, and evangelizing skills.

I’m proud of ________.

The progression in how women are viewed in culture. I think it’s a great time and I’m proud to ride that wave.

Is there a woman who has inspired you?

Grace Hopper was a computer scientist in the 1930s and Anita Borg, who is the founder of the Institute for Women and Technology and the Grace Hopper Celebrating of Women in Computing. Back then, it was a predominately male society, and they were there paving the way for women like myself.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten”.

Kate Westerhout, Site Merchandiser

What do you do here at National Pen?

I make sure all of the components of the website come together to make sense to the customer and tells a specific story.

How long have you worked here?

A month!

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

I mean, always Taylor Swift. But really, my mom—she raised my sister and I and worked a full-time job. She’s worked for the same company for almost 20 years, and when I interned there, I saw how much everyone liked and respected her.

I also look up to my sister. She has a really high-pressure job that would be difficult for most people, but she handles it so well and still makes time for people.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

You are equal. There’s no reason to ever feel like you aren’t. If you work hard, that’s all that matters.

I could be better at ________.

Asking for help.

I’m proud of ________.

Myself :). There have been a lot of changes in my career since this time last year, including a cross-country move and leaving the apparel industry. Even though I’ve only been here for a month, it’s been really nice to finally have some stability again so I can start the next chapter in my career.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

Tie between “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.

Nicki Staats, Global Vendor Relations Manager

What do you do here at National Pen?

My role is to globally negotiate contracts to make sure we’re giving our customers the best prices on the best products.

How long have you worked here?

Two years.

Is there a woman you look up to in your life?

Well, I was a pastor’s daughter, so I feel like I had a lot of women in my life that exhibited great ethics and morals.

From within the industry, I look up to Kippie Helzel because she’s an executive but maintains a very down-to-earth persona. She finds a way to connect with people. She knows that it isn’t all about saying yes.

Another woman I look up to is Dawn Olds, who was the SVP of Operations at the previous company I worked at. She took the time to make sure I understood the full process of the industry. I learned how to understand what’s best for the company. She was a really strong teacher.

What advice would you give women starting out in their careers?

Don’t shy away from sharing your opinions. Obviously, make sure you share them in the most diplomatic way. When you share your opinion, you show leadership in a different way. It shows you’re vulnerable enough to share your thoughts, although it may not be the most popular opinion.

What inspires you in the workplace?
I don’t care if my work stays the same, but if I can provide some sort of efficiency or a promotion that makes a lot of sales, that makes me feel good.

I could be better at ________.

Picking my battles and prioritizing where my energy needs to be spent.

I’m proud of ________.

Accepting this job and moving across the country. Relocating my family and moving to a different, larger city was a big deal for us.

Is there a woman who has inspired you in the workplace?

Cammy Stronks is my rock. Not only professionally because she knows so much about National Pen, but we share the same values.

What’s your favorite female empowerment song?

The one that I’m really loving right now is Francesa Battistelli’s “The Breakup Song”.

Music for a Movement

It wouldn’t be a celebration of International Women’s Day without a few jams from our favorite female musicians.

Catherine O.

Word nerd. Burrito connoisseur. Pen pal.

Share
Published by
Catherine O.

Recent Posts

The Lost Art of Letter Writing & the Role of Guilt in Resuscitating Snail Mail

Letter Writing: Who's Got the Time? Whether you're old or young, centennial or millennial, a discussion of the art of…

2 days ago

How to Throw the Best Office Football Party? Three Words: Football Party Favors.

Whether the hometown team is in the big game or not, throwing a football themed office party on the Friday…

3 days ago

Slim Pens, Thin Pens, Lean Pens & Felines: Why We Love ‘Em All

We love a slim pen. So elegant. So refined. A thin pen says you've got time on your hands. Maybe…

7 days ago

Best Promotional Items: Promotional Product Ideas Infographic

Get your ballgown or tux ready, because we're hosting the annual Best Promotional Items of the Year Awards! It was…

1 week ago

Creative Promotional Items & Ideas: 7 Ways to Stand Out with Printed Items

Piquing a potential customer’s interest can be tricky—especially because you don’t have long to do it. That’s why your messaging…

2 weeks ago

Rollerball vs Gel (Plus Ballpoint!) Madness: Pen Types, Ink Types & Naming Gone Wild

What's in a name? A lot of confusion! Rollerball pen and rollerball ink versus gel pen and gel ink. Oh…

2 weeks ago