Section Image: Sheryl Adkins-Green and Tracey Renee Williams

Mary Kay's Sheryl Adkins-Green Describes Breaking Barriers to Become C-suite Executive

In the TCU Neeley Office of Inclusive Excellence’s Against All Odds speaker series final event this semester, Adkins-Green reflected on her career and shared the personal and professional lessons she learned, primarily the importance of being your true, authentic self.

April 10, 2023

By Miya Hillesland

Sheryl Adkins-GreenSheryl Adkins-Green is a powerful influence and role model to many women in corporate America and is a pioneer of change in the workforce. As Mary Kay’s Chief Experience Officer, a member of the TCU Board of Trustees, and guest speaker for the TCU Neeley Office of Inclusive Excellence’s Against All Odds event, Adkins-Green offered students advice based on her personal experience achieving success in a global corporation.

Although she didn’t set out to break barriers for women and people of color, Adkins-Green quickly recognized the significance of her experience. To the room of students, she stressed the importance of understanding your organization’s priorities and how your success comes from how you help others succeed.

“The journey of transformation is the journey of discovery, specifically discovering the power of being my authentic self,” said Adkins-Green.

During the one-hour Against All Odds event, Tracey Renee Williams ‘04 (‘08 MS) served as host and led the discussion, while Adkins-Green walked the crowd through the challenges and successes she has experienced.

“It’s so rare to see women of color in the C-suite role and in positions that influence so many people. We’re grateful for women like you who broke these barriers,” said Williams, who is president of the TCU National Alumni Board.

TCU Neeley Interim Dean Hettie Richardson opened the event with a welcome and discussed the value of the speaker series, which provides students with a way to learn from people who have paved the way across various business industries.

“I think it's important to celebrate those who have faced these challenges and triumphed against them, and those who have persevered against all odds,” Richardson said.

Ann Tasby, director of the TCU Neeley Office of Inclusive Excellence and an accounting faculty, said the Against All Odds series was created to “amplify diverse voices in business so that our students have the benefit of being exposed to leaders who are out there doing it; and, as they encounter challenges, they have managed to navigate those and still excel.”

This Against All Odds event also incorporated a student art show that focused on women’s empowerment. Adkins-Green has a passion for writing and the arts.

Student art on display in the Shaddock foyer

Adkins-Green told the audience not to make yourself small in your workplace. When people get hired, they get hired for everything that is said to be brought to the table. If people do not bring those qualities to the company, they are shortchanging the industry and shortchanging themselves, she said.

“You’re there to contribute to the success of the company and we’re all more successful when we work together,” says Adkins-Green.

When looking for a place to work, she suggests looking for a company with the same values as you where you can love the culture surrounding it.

“Mary Kay Ash was an influencer. She led by example, and she never told anyone what to do but, instead, helped them discover how to do it as their individual best,” said Adkins-Green.

Leading through example is one of the main takeaways from the speaker event. As a leader, it is your job to set the tone for your organization and if the company’s values do not line up with yours, it is time to make a change, she said.

She explained that it is crucial to value others around you, especially the ones you work with. People want to feel important and most challenges we face as a society are because people don’t feel valued.

“People can’t bring value to more people if they aren’t being valued themselves,” said Adkins-Green.

A final piece of advice Adkins-Green shared with the crowd before closing was to “always encourage everyone to remember that they are capable of unique things. We should not compare someone’s grand finale to our dress rehearsal.”

To watch Adkins-Green's presentation, go to the TCU Neeley YouTube channel here.

President Pullin, Tracey Renee Williams, Sheryl Adkins-Green, Ann Tasby, Provost Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg, David Russell and Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado