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United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.

Image Courtesy of Erica Spencer

Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Erica Spencer.

Affiliation(s) (past and present):

Downtown Hampton Child Development Center Board of Directors (DHCDC), Citizen's Unity Commissioner, Carolina Virginia Minority Supplier Diversity Council (CVMSDC), Phenix PTSA Vice President

How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?

For about 3 years, I have been working for the City of Hampton in Economic Development on the Small Business Incentive and just recently have been promoted to also oversee the Workforce Development Incentive.

I have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a background in business development, procurement, and auditing. When this position opened, I knew I could excel in it, if given the opportunity. My ability to build healthy relationships and partnerships has helped lead me to the capacity I serve in today as the Senior Business Development Manager.

How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?

My whole life.

What advice would you give young women going into your field?

Do it, and love it. Always keep an open mind and be willing to learning something new. Don't just sit at the table, talk at the table.

Does your gender influence your relationship to your work? In what way?

Gender awareness is always there. You realize the importance of the role you’re in and you strive to do your best not only for yourself and clients but for all the girls who come after you.

Have you faced challenges in your field because of your gender or have you found your gender to be an asset? What kinds of challenges or advantages, and how have they affected your life?

I think both. An asset because as a woman it forces me into a role model role. It is beneficial to show younger girls or even older women starting over what can be accomplished. It also has it challenges. As a woman, whether you fail or succeed, everything you do is being scrutinized, not directly but you remain in a spotlight. Also as a woman, you deal with things how to balance work/family.

Has parenthood impacted your career or shaped your perspective as a professional? In what ways?

Absolutely. Becoming a parent forced me to balance and change like never before, but something I am forever grateful for. From career motivation to unrelenting work ethic, as a mom it allows me to set my daughters on the path to success early. Having these two girls depending on and watching me is most important role I have.

What has been your greatest challenge and what have you learned from it?

I think my greatest challenge has been me, myself. I think that we tend to put high expectations on ourselves but forget to offer ourselves grace. When I started my role about 3 years ago, I was very critical and afraid to make mistakes, or change a process.

Today, I am responsible for two programs – Small Business and Workforce Development and my role doesn’t look the same at all. I am thankful for the growth opportunity that the City has offered me and the faith they have in me as an employee. I attribute this to not only hard work and dedication but the decision to be on my own side!

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