“See It & Be It”: Wendy Blackburn of Intouch Solutions

“See It & Be It” is part of the 4A’s women and diversity leadership series. As part of this initiative, we invite members to tell us their story.

Wendy Blackburn, Executive Vice President, Intouch Solutions

What Are Your Words Of Advice To Young Talent?

Speak up. Make sure your voice is heard. You may have less experience than others in the room, but you know more than you realize. That question you were afraid to ask. Ask it – or you may never know the answer. That idea you had that you thought was silly, so you didn’t say anything. Someone else threw it out there, and it was the prize idea the team was looking for. Be your own advocate. Not in a self-entitled way, but in a way that people know and appreciate the contributions you make. Work hard, make a difference, and don’t be afraid to make sure people know about it.

Have You Personally Faced A Moment Of Challenging Or Overcoming Discrimination?

To be clear, I’ve been lucky throughout most of my career to have been treated equally and fairly. But at one point, a new person who happened to be a man joined our company. He began asking me to set up meetings and to take notes at those meetings. Not only did I not report to this person, but I was higher up in the organization chart than him. There was zero reason for me to do his secretarial work. It was a power play, it was sexism, and it was infuriating. Bias can be incredibly subtle. I had a rather awkward conversation with him, and it stopped.

Who Was Your First Mentor And What Did That Mean For Your Career?

I’m not sure I’ve had a specifically defined “mentor.” But I’ve been lucky to have had a number of positive, professional role models – both male and female – over the years. There were many brilliant minds and strong leaders at Fleishman-Hillard whom I admired. At Intouch, our CEO, Faruk Capan, has taught me compassion and empathy in the workplace. On the flipside, I’ve also paid attention to the type of employee, leader or manager I did NOT want to become. People are interesting – you must watch, listen and decide for yourself the behaviors worth emulating.

What Other Advice Did You Provide To Young People At Your Agency?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – for career guidance, for a referral, for assistance working through a sticky situation. Schedule a meeting, invite them for coffee, or just reach out via LinkedIn or email if that’s most comfortable. You’ll be surprised how many people will give you their time and advice, and they’ll be flattered you asked.