Carol McMahon Hill _07MBA

Women in business are creating their own path, starting businesses, raising amazing families, leading academic institutions, and breaking through the C-suite ceiling. In this issue of Know Your Network, we celebrate Women’s History month by asking Emory alumni to share about the female trailblazers that impacted their course.

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Carol McMahon Hill 07MBA
Marketing and Strategy Professional

In honor of women’s history month, share how a woman has positively impacted your world view and/or career.
There are many women that have had a positive impact on my life from my mother, Teddie McMahon, who taught me the value of hard work and education, to my working-mom friends, like Julie Howard and Christie Bell, who offered encouragement and advice dealing with things like mom guilt and balancing work and kids. However, I am most grateful to  my first manager at Georgia-Pacific, Alicia McCabe. Alicia became a wonderful friend and mentor.

After I moved on to other roles at Georgia-Pacific, Alicia was always available for advice and coaching. She also encouraged me to go after roles when I wasn’t confident in myself. Like many women, I struggled with impostor syndrome, but Alicia was always there offering gentle pushes and sage advice. In addition to being a great mentor, Alicia also worked tirelessly for her community, volunteering with the Junior League, Ronald McDonald House, and many other organizations. Alicia’s commitment to the community has inspired me as I shift my career focus to the nonprofit sector.

What is your definition of success?
As I’ve matured, my definition of success has evolved. A few years ago, I would have said getting that next promotion and continuing up the corporate ladder was my definition. However, in 2018, I had to opportunity to hear Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, speak about happiness and success. He shared how research has shown that chasing success doesn’t lead to happiness for many people. This insight led me to start thinking about my values and the values I was teaching my children. Today, I’m working to reframe success for myself as being grateful for what I have and prioritizing happiness, for me and my family, over climbing a corporate ladder.

Is there a lasting lesson, memory or skill gained from business school that you particularly remember or credit your success to?
A lasting lesson from grad school was leveraging the power of a team. Before Goizueta, I often tackled problems on my own. However, working as a team, I realized solutions were better, stronger, and often we got the work done more efficiently. At Georgia-Pacific, one of the core beliefs is that no one is good at everything. Leveraging our comparative advantage and the comparative advantage of our teammates will lead to better ideas and drive more growth for the company overall.

What advice do you have for today’s business students?
Be open to new ideas and challenging your own beliefs. University of Houston research professor and author Brene Brown has a great quote. “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

What is a professional moment or accomplishment you are most proud of and why?
Today, I’m most proud of my decision to leave the corporate world for a time. In July 2019, I chose to resign at Georgia-Pacific and take a year off to be a full-time mom. It was a scary decision as I admit I saw my “value” in my job title and in being a “working” mom. But I knew in my heart that I needed a paradigm shift if I wanted to truly be happy. I’m so thankful for this time with my boys, Cullen (10) and Devon (6). I’m also thankful for opportunities to explore new things such as teaching English at the International Rescue Committee, and volunteering at Wellroot Family Services. To quote Brene Brown again, “It’s not about ‘what can I accomplish?’ but ‘what do I want to accomplish?'” Life is a journey.