Women in Business: Helena Gadison

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Class of 2022 Women in Business Helena Gadison Senior National Account Manager Conair LLC, Bentonville

Residence: Springdale

Education: B.S., communications; M.S. leadership, John Brown University

Professional background: Since August 2019, Gadison has held a senior sales role for Conair LLC. Before that, she spent more than two decades working in leadership roles for Walmart and Lane Bryant, holding positions as vice president, Walmart International Apparel Merchandising, and as a company spokesperson in Washington, D.C., New York and Tokyo. She is a frequent speaker and facilitator on the topics of leadership, personal branding, networking, dining etiquette and dressing for success. Gadison is also board chair of the United Way of Northwest Arkansas.

What was your dream job as a kid and why? Being on stage in some capacity. Because I like the feeling of making an audience think differently and creating positive energy. Smiles and laughter are powerful and synergistic.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry? Be open and willing to take on initiatives and roles outside of your area of expertise to learn and expand your capacity, which can lead to new, bigger and better opportunities.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on? Getting used to being an empty nester and nurturing my passion, interests, and abilities.

What is a leader’s best asset? Resilience.

You stay busy professionally. How do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health? Some form of exercise 2-3 times per week and to eat as healthy as possible (most times). Frequent massages, laughter, retail therapy, home decorating and meditation.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? It has helped me to envision myself doing greater things and then provided the support and encouragement to keep an eye on that prize and keep going.

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top? Two key reasons: 1) Women are key influencers for most purchase decisions in the households; therefore, to understand them and their family needs, wants and desires, is to be well-connected to that consumer. The best way to know that is to have women in key positions all throughout an organization. 2) Most women offer a different approach to problem solving, creativeness, and engagement with others, which all can provide an excellent balance to inspire and motivate an ever-changing and diverse workforce and to compete effectively.

What’s unique about your company’s culture? It’s a culture which welcomes, embraces and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you? I was a cellist in symphony orchestras: Tulsa Youth Symphony, as a student at Muskogee High School, and the Northwest Arkansas Symphony Orchestra as a student at the University of Arkansas.

Favorite Northwest Arkansas-area restaurant? Three of my faves are Atlas the Restaurant (Fayetteville), MJ’s Pizzeria (Springdale) and Local Lime (Rogers).

Most recent book you’ve read? “Lead From the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change” by Stacey Abrams.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it? One, take an Alaskan cruise. Two, travel to all U.S. states I have not visited yet to see its best feature or attraction. And three, to have one day that I have absolutely no responsibility or commitment to do or go anywhere.