The She-Suite Magazine Highlight
When asked what work and career means to her, woman executive, philanthropist, and leader Sherrie Beckstead replied, “I view both [work and career] through a lens that sets a standard; to demonstrate excellence and humility in all. Charitable work, philanthropy, corporate leadership, restoring historic structures, designing new pieces with my team to gardening. My purpose is derived from each and everything that I touch, and that purpose begins with the sunrise each morning.”
Her mentorship and fearlessness in the face of inequality continue to influence the way women are perceived in executive positions, especially BIPOC women. “I see, hear, and also experience salary inequity, microaggression/bullying, nepotism, and ‘othering’ in the workplace … Only 4% of Women of Color are in the C-Suite, and women continue to rise as strong leaders; however, their work is still not being recognized. My mission and my vision remain to proactively take bold steps forward and have a zero-tolerance policy that must be enforced. Anything less should never be tolerated in the workplace. My ongoing mentorship remains an honor.” Beckstead agrees that we are beginning to see the “silver linings” of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidenced by the paradigm shift in the workplace — especially for women.
We asked Beckstead to share her most impactful work. She described the struggle she faced when her husband passed in 2020: “I learned so much about myself during this period; I never thought of myself as a caregiver … Today, I call it the most important work that I have ever done.” Beckstead went on to create a cause-branded jewelry line, The Lockkeepers Collection, to raise thousands for breast cancer research and make a difference through philanthropy.
And when we asked what every successful woman should know? Fake it ‘til you make it! “Confidence [is] a must! … Every woman needs to be her finest advocate.”
- What does work and having a career mean to you? Is this where you derive your sense of purpose or is it something else to you?
My definition of work spans far beyond the “workplace”, and the same can be said of the term “career”… I view both through a lens that sets a standard; to demonstrate excellence and humility in all. Charitable work, philanthropy, corporate leadership, restoring historic structures, designing new pieces with my team to gardening. My purpose is derived from each and everything that I touch, and that purpose begins with the sunrise each morning.
- How would you describe the standard for women in the workplace and what are you doing to redefine that standard for the better/in a unique way?
To say that Covid created a paradigm shift in the workplace is an understatement. In many ways, we are experiencing the silver linings of the pandemic, and of equal or greater measure the challenges are more evident. I see, hear, and also experience salary inequity, micro-aggression/bullying, nepotism, and “othering” in the workplace- I continue to witness diversity inequity. We all need to collectively address these known facts; only 4% of Women of Color are in the C-Suite, and women continue to rise as strong leaders however their work is still not being recognized. My mission and my vision remain to proactively take bold steps forward and have a zero-tolerance policy that must be enforced. Anything less should never be tolerated in the workplace. My ongoing mentorship remains an honor.
- What are the principles that you live by and how do they help you to attain your goals gracefully?
My principals drive me toward accomplishing my goals… they are faith-based and encompass every facet of my life;
Honor your Word
Learn every day, life is a classroom
Address and never avoid; challenges are presented to teach us
Make someone’s Day… the small things in life!
Nurture Love and Commitment…
Attitude is yours – own it
Lead from Grace and Honor
Practice gratitude each day (it’s easy to be thankful)
Share your gifts
Begin with the end in mind
- What steps do you take daily to stay focused on your goals and your purpose? Are you still a follower of 90-day plans and rhythms? If so, what does this look like for you?
I start everyday with the intention to care for the Mind, Body & Spirit. A walk, yoga or rowing – that sets the tone of the day, clears the mind and refreshes the body – then I add a Turmeric shot or one of my infamous morning elixirs. I bestow lots of pats, kisses and love to Henri, my 14-year old standard poodle, then I am ready to roll with the daily plan. The 90-Day plan is phenomenal – I began using the method out of necessity, and then it became an integral part of my planning success.
- If you could tell anything to your younger self, what would it be?
Where do I begin. If I could choose one thing to tell my younger self it would be to Keep God in the center of all that you do.
- What female leaders have inspired you throughout your life?
I have been blessed to either study or witness women that have inspired me for a plethora of reasons including stellar leadership, courage, passion and grace. My 3 choices embody all of the above and represent the best of the past, present and the future. These women’s values have guided them, and have served as a beacon of their trailblazing truths.
Hildegarde of Bingen, circa 1098 – a brilliant theologian, scientist, and visionary that battled to earn her sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Anita Faye Hill – as a young woman, I witnessed Ms. Hill go before a US Supreme court committee to report the sexual harassment that she endured at the hands a powerful Supreme Court nominee; this was a pinnacle point in my life. The epitome of courage and a testament to stand up and speak your truth.
Dr. Sheila Johnson – co- founder of BET, and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, to mention just a few accolades. Dr. Johnson is an inspirational force, and reminds me that all things are possible, and that life is a classroom filled with the gifts of knowledge and topped with grace.
- Tell us about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle – or make a difficult professional decision? How did you navigate them, what did you learn about yourself?
In November of 2019, my love, life partner, business partner, and husband of 35 years was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer – a healthy active man with no warning signs. 15 months later, he passed away the day after Christmas 2020. I learned so much about myself during this period, I never thought of myself as a caregiver, however today, I call it the most important work that I have ever done. I witnessed strength beyond measure, monumental courage, and a will to live that I didn’t know existed…as I watched and listened to the man that I adored, respected, and loved more than words can possibly convey, tell me each night that he was not ready… nor was I. I learned that I never would have been…
- As an owner, investor, partner, mentor, advisory board member, and president, you seem to have quite a bit on your plate. How do you balance all of these initiatives and which of these positions are you most passionate about/ find purpose through?
My work invigorates me! I always use the energy litmus test… God gives us what we need if we are suppose to be engaging in whatever calls us. I am passionate about everything that I d…. all intersect and create more enthusiasm and energy.
- You recently designed and launched a cause branded jewelry line, The Lockkeepers Collection, and currently serve as the Public Relations Co-Chair on the Executive Committee at Georgetown Lombardi Breast Cancer Center in Washington, DC. What do these causes specifically mean to you and why did you choose to support them through your professional success?
My Lockkeepers Collection is a cause branded collection that benefits The Trust for The National Mall. I serve on the National Advisory Council, and I am honored to support this incredible project that preserves and protects America’s Front Lawn. The most iconic National Park in the World. Georgetown Lombardi is also very near and dear to my heart. Our annual event, Lombardi Women has raised thousands of dollars for Breast Cancer Research. I am honored to serve as one of the PR co-chairs, as well as an Executive Committee member, with the trailblazing women that have lead this honorable mission.
- What is one thing you think every successful woman needs to know? Also, what is one quality you think every successful woman should possess?
CONFIDENCE! A must! (Fake it till you make it). Every woman needs to be her finest advocate. She needs to ask for what she wants in a clear, concise and professional communication.
- Which do you think is more effective as a woman entrepreneur: Setting yourself apart from the rest or doing what others are already doing but better?
Great question! I think it is essential to have a combination of both — working from the base of your strengths. Collaborate whenever it benefits both entrepreneurs — never cut and paste without giving credit, where credit is due.
- What’s next for you? What projects are you working on right now that you are most excited about?
I have many irons in the fire, so to speak… many new things are on the horizon… I am excited to launch many of them this year, some in honor of my amazing husband Sidney. He would be so proud of the work that I am doing… and that brings me peace and strength each and everyday.