IWD2021 – Tresa Adair: Be Aware of our Future Women Leaders to Support, Coach, Acknowledge and Celebrate

At Intelex, we celebrate the accomplishments of womxn every day and choose to challenge traditional thinking.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 (IWD2021) is: “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.”  IWD2021 is asking: How will you help forge a gender-equal world? The answer is by celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.

Through our annual IWD blog series, we want to introduce you to a group of women like Tresa – Intelex employees, customers and partners – who personify the achievements of women in tech and in EHSQ.

What is your name, title and company?

Tresa Adair, VP – Digital Solutions & Marketing and part of the Leadership Team, Harbor Environmental and Safety. Of my past 26 years of experience, the last six years have been focused on developing and growing Harbor’s Digital Solutions team, which offers EHS&Q software configuration and administration as an official Intelex Strategic Alliance Partner. In addition, I lead the team in exploring and developing custom solutions as necessary to meet clients’ needs in EHS compliance as well as sustainability reporting and initiatives.

How did you become in involved with EHSQ and/or technology?

For the first 20 years of my career, I worked for large corporations. While I learned so much under those companies, I wanted an opportunity to break free and have the freedom to make a real difference with my work. My twin sister, Trena Adair, and her business partner, Leslie Davis, were both experienced environmental consultants and formed Harbor Environmental and Safety 13 year ago. I was ready to leave the pharma industry and with my financial and marketing experience, they allowed me to join when they were only three strong at the time. 

One of the reasons I felt so passionate about joining Harbor was that Trena and Leslie formed the foundation that women CAN be successful even when raising a family and having true work balance in life. They were not going to build a company based on traditional consulting firms. They wanted diversity, growth opportunities, balance, a casual workplace, and most importantly, a dog-friendly workplace. Trena always said, if Google can do it, so can we!

My original responsibility was to manage the financials and marketing. However, only two years later, due to demand with the growth of our business, I found myself assisting clients with software administration and configuration tied to EHS compliance and sustainability. I’ve always loved technology and was typically the person at all my past employers that led new initiatives in utilizing software to become more efficient and have ability to analyze data to create changes that transform a business’ processes and policy. It was simply a natural fit and progressed into forming an entire division at Harbor.

In your career, what have you decided to #ChooseToChallenge?

What I have witnessed in my career is that women are not supporting each other. We can’t gain equality if we don’t fix this first. Because of this, I challenge myself at Harbor to be aware of our future women leaders to support, coach with honest and respectful feedback, acknowledge and conduct celebrations when milestones and growth are achieved!  It’s time to get excited about our roles as women leaders, there is nothing we can’t get done if we do it together.

What were your greatest challenges – personally or professionally – in 2020?

Communication, both personally and professionally. I have always believed that the lines of communication should open and productive. Effective communication helps to eliminate assumptions, drives teamwork and accountability. That is hard enough when we are all at the office, but, since March, the entire company had to come up with better ways to communicate and share information. 

What was the primary learning(s) from 2020 that you brought with you into 2021?

I learned my bias, that only a special kind of individual could be productive working remotely, was simply not true. Not to say that adjustments [didn’t need] to be made initially when we were all forced to become remote workers. We changed our weekly status meetings to shorter virtual daily meetings and, we required each team member to have the camera on when communicating. That sharing alone is impactful in gaging how each team member is doing mentally.

We made time for fun online. My director, Stephanie Wilkerson, came up with some brilliant activities for the Digital Solutions Team to feel engaged and feed the needs we all have missed this year: outside human contact! This whole experience has allowed me to challenge myself more – like I did early in my career ­– and question “why” when I hear myself say that [something] typically doesn’t work.

What are you focusing on in 2021?

Allowing my team to evolve by working in different ways. Supporting those ideas and moving on to other ideas if those don’t work as planned. Nothing gets better without trying something different first. With marketing efforts, we are digging more and more into technology tools that we felt were not critical in the past few years. We must learn how to gain access to existing and new clients now that in-person visits just isn’t our first option anymore. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I feel fortunate to have the flexibility to make decisions quickly to adjust to these new methods to ensure we continue to work to always be one step (or two) ahead of our competitors.

How are you rising to the challenges found in the new year and what do you hope to accomplish?

There is no doubt the pandemic has impacted our business and how we approach securing new business. We are focused on ensuring our relationships with our staff and clients remain strong. Harbor is a relationship company, and we grow through the trust that our clients have in us. By finding new ways to interact with our existing and potential clients, I feel strongly we will only add to the current tools and skills we utilize to keep Harbor viable. We are also working diligently to challenge how we approach projects that in the past, demanded on-premise visits.  Allowing all of us to suggest other ways to achieve same [pre-pandemic] results will drive how successful we are in getting past this pandemic and beyond. 

Other IWD2021 Blogs:

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About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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