Employment & Careers
By Caroline Bennett
Wall Street is notorious for its lack of female executives. A mere 4 percent of Fortune 500 businesses have a woman occupying the CEO seat.
Lately, however, a new trend is starting to surface. When once-great companies find themselves stuck in a dark place, they're beginning to appoint female leaders to get them out of the woods.
The New 'Feminine Mystique'
Women like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Meg Whitman may stir up buzz when they take and hold the top jobs, but they're also generating results.
Forget whatever myths you might have held about the "fairer sex." These women are powerful and unafraid to tackle a challenge. Besides helping obliterate a glass ceiling, they're breathing life into tech companies that have encountered some seriously difficult situations.
Here's how these female execs are turning the beat around for companies we once thought were flatlining.
By Michele Lerner
Elaine Grogan Luttrull has spent a lot of time with artists during her stints at The Julliard School and the Columbus College of Art and Design.
She herself is an artist. She's also a Certified Public Accountant. As such, she does not accept the prevailing attitude among artists that commercial success equals "selling out."
In fact, by brushing off the financial side of a career in the arts, she says, artists are practically ensuring that they will be unfulfilled personally, professionally, and financially.
Luttrull now helps creative people incorporate financial smarts into their pursuit of the arts. She is the founding owner of Minerva Financial Arts, where she works at increasing financial literacy among artists and arts organizations through tax services, budgeting support, business planning, and education. And she is the author of the just-released "Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class."
By Eamon Murphy
The growth of executive compensation in America is a kind of success story, viewed from one perspective: According to a 2012 study by the Economic Policy Institute, American CEOs saw their pay increase by 725 percent since 1978 -- more than 127 times faster than worker pay grew during the same period. And when the numbers are adjusted for inflation, average wages have been essentially flat since the 1970s, in spite of the fact that worker productivity has gone up markedly since then. Workers have earned a raise, in other words, but unlike their bosses they haven't gotten it: Last year, wages accounted for just 43.5 percent of GDP, a record low. (Until 1975, that number was almost always over 50 percent.)
What accounts for this divergence? One compelling theory points to the rise of executives' control over their own compensation, a problem of corporate governance recently highlighted by the case of Jamie Dimon, who holds the dual roles of CEO and chairman at JPMorgan Chase (JPM). This arrangement survived a recent shareholder attempt to establish an independent chairmanship following years of run-ins with regulators, which one shareholder claimed had cost the bank $16 billion since 2009; Dimon, who has no clear successor and threatened to leave the bank if he lost his spot at the head of the board, proved too strong for the insurgency. As Halah Touryalai observed at Forbes, "JPM has seen record profits for the last three years and not one quarterly loss during Dimon's tenure."
I woke up one morning about four weeks ago and realized in a flash that I'd hit a wall. Most days I can't wait to get to work. On this day, I struggled to get myself out of the house.
The first three months of the year had been intensely demanding, between hiring a series of new employees for a rapidly growing business, working with colleagues to develop several new products, traveling frequently, and taking on multiple writing assignments.
Take action, serve, and be nice. Those are the career and life lesson take-aways from 99 percent of all commencement speeches ever. But when it comes to winning a majority hungover crowd, a speech needs to have an extra edge -- berate the new graduates, for example, outline a transformative new political doctrine, or simply break everybody's heart.
In honor of this year's commencement season, here are some of the greatest speeches ever given from the graduation podium. And many of them offer advice of use to people of all stages of their careers.
1. Winston Churchill, Westminster College, 1946
Winston Churchill had recently lost his bid to be re-elected Britain's prime minister when he was invited to address the graduating class of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. In the gymnasium of this small Midwestern college, Churchill made a speech that was to echo throughout the rest of the 20th century.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in Adriatic an 'iron curtain' has descended across the continent," he said, coining a term that was to define the coming decades in international relations (well, not "coin" exactly; Goebbels and other Nazi officials were also fond of the 'iron curtain' image). It was only fitting that when Mikhail Gorbachev decided to officially announce the end of the Cold War in 1992, he chose Westminster College as his venue.
2. George Marshall, Harvard University, 1947
The Harvard graduating class of '47 was the first to hear about the Marshall Plan, the wildly successful aid program that lifted Europe back to prosperity in the aftermath of World War II. "It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health to the world," Marshall declared, "without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace."
Gen. Marshall was short on details, but his vision as was bold -- extending aid to any country that wanted it, including the Soviet Union. (It didn't.) Six years later, the program earned U.S. Secretary of State Marshall a Nobel Peace Prize.
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By Eamon Murphy
A $100,000 signing bonus, a $1 million salary, a brand new netbook or tablet, and additional rewards depending on performance: That's the compensation package, if media reports are correct, awaiting a Russian counterterrorism officer specializing in the Caucasus region who's willing to spy for Uncle Sam.
Many of these jobs are available by signing up with an agency that provides temporary employment. Once you're sign up, you are sent to odd jobs in your neighbourhood. When I did it, I sold Tupperware in a mall kiosk, picked up cardboard boxes in a Costco and spent a week putting different sizes of screws into really small bags.