By Mary Westbrook, for Bisnow on Business
Chris Hill oversees a team of 15, supporting the Board, and sees as their objective to “cultivate a culture of honesty, fairness, ownership, and accountability.” She grew up near Toledo, Ohio, attended Ohio State and its law school, then worked as an attorney at Jones Day and later Honda of America. In 1998, she came to Washington as a special counsel at Nextel.
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Bisnow on Business: What’s your schedule like these days?
Integrating Sprint and Nextel after our “merger of equals” in August of 2005 has been very hard and taken long hours. But I always stress to myself and my team the importance of balancing work and personal life. As you might expect from a mobile phone company, Sprint Nextel promotes a mobile environment, which means I can take my work with me, making it easier to be a mom and a career professional. Also, I have made a commitment to my family that I will not work on Saturdays, reserving that time for sporting events and other fun family activities.
What’s your family consist of?
A wonderful and supportive husband and two teenage daughters, who keep me well-grounded. My husband is a true partner who’s stayed home with our girls while I’ve worked over the years. I am constantly amazed by individuals who raise a family and work full-time without a partner at home to help.
What’s the best part of your day?
At work, making others feel valued and recognizing their contributions. The best part of my day at home is sitting down to dinner with my family and re-winding my daughters’ day at school.
Do you have much interaction with young women coming out of college and joining the workforce? If so, do you their generation is different?
I have mentored young women coming out of college and currently have a senior and freshman in high school, so I am pretty plugged into this next generation. While there are some striking differences between this generation and mine—for example, having just gone through the college application process, I can tell you that the world is so much more competitive than when I was applying—it’s surprising how many things are fairly constant. Curiosity about the world around them, questions about finding their own rewarding path in life, a desire to make a difference in this world—these are universal experiences that cut across generational lines.
Do you network with other female executives?
I have been blessed in my jobs to work with great female colleagues. I have found that sharing experiences and lessons learned with other female executives has been very beneficial to my career and job satisfaction.
Have you ever encountered any obstacles or barriers because you are a woman?
I believe we all face elements of diversity that determine what opportunities are available for us. Being a woman did not limit my successes, but rather was a driving force of my motivation. I sought to prove that my family’s work ethic and my determination could take me anywhere I wanted to go. I firmly believe that the true test of character is how one chooses to react to adversity. Obstacles of any kind force us to look inside ourselves to see what we are made of and rise above the challenge. You would be amazed where you can find those silver linings.
Do you mentor others, professionally or personally?
Yes. Whether you’re paying it forward by a simple act of kindness, standing up for an unpopular position or making a tough decision at work, it’s important to recognize that we all have tremendous power to make a difference in other people’s lives. I have tried to do this through formal and informal mentoring relationships. Mentoring is a true two-way street, and I firmly believe that I get so much more out of it than I give. It is amazing what you can learn from others.
What do you do for fun?
I am a competitive person and enjoy participating in and watching sports with my family and friends. Our freshman is on the South Lakes High School varsity basketball team, so we have a great time cheering on her team and spending time with the other basketball parents. I also enjoy reading and running, which often helps me unwind after a long day.
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