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Strengthening STEM Professionals and Students with Executive Presence

Strengthening STEM Professionals and Students with Executive Presence


“We want to make sure that we are exciting young people around math and science and technology and computer science. We don’t want our kids just to be consumers of the amazing things that science generates; we want them to be producers as well. And we want to make sure that those who historically have not participated in the sciences as robustly – girls, members of minority groups here in this country – that they are encouraged as well. We’ve got to make sure that we’re training great calculus and biology teachers, and encouraging students to keep up with their physics and chemistry classes…. It means teaching proper research methods and encouraging young people to challenge accepted knowledge.”

President Barack Obama, National Academy of Sciences, April 2013

The industrial revolution, span the 18th thru 20th centuries and created a myriad of jobs, in which less than 10 percent were STEM-related. Today, STEM Occupations account for more than approximately 20 percent of jobs.  The the future of the economy is in STEM,” says James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. “That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.” Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) support that assertion. Employment in occupations related to STEM-science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-is projected to grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about one million jobs over 2012 employment levels. According to Brookings Institution as of 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs—20 percent of jobs—require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. STEM jobs have doubled as a share of jobs since the Industrial Revolution, from less than 10 percent in 1850 to 20 percent in 2010. In fact, when you google the word STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), you will receive about 55 million 200 thousand results in 0.37 seconds. The Department of Commerce Economic and Statistics Administration report that women in STEM fields are often underrepresented, holding less than 25% of the jobs in the U.S. and 13% in the UK (2012). In the United States, studies have been conducted to explain this pattern, such as mechanisms in recruitment and hiring processes On average, women in STEM fields earn 33% more than those in non-STEM professions. They also experience a smaller wage gap compared to men. However, women can be found as leaders in top professions around the country.

In June 2014, Forbes Magazine reported, The Top 10 Cities With The Most STEM Job Openings Right Now:


  1. Washington, D.C.: 45,289 positions listed
  2. San Jose, California:  39,233 positions listed
  3. San Francisco, California: 30,627 positions listed
  4. New York, New York: 28,039 positions listed
  5. Boston, Massachusetts: 17,568 positions listed
  6. Chicago, Illinois: 17,567 positions listed
  7. Los Angeles, California: 15,818 positions listed
  8. Seattle, Washington: 12,597 positions listed
  9. Dallas, Texas: 10,522 positions listed
  10. Houston, Texas: 10,278 positions listed

2014 Talent Shortage Infographic

While job growth is terrific news for the US economy, the annual global Talent Shortage Survey from ManpowerGroup finds that nearly one in five employers worldwide can’t fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills, regardless of their technical qualifications. Specifically, companies say candidates lack in motivation, interpersonal skills, appearance, punctuality and flexibility. In addition, researchers state that 75% of careers that are derailed, are due to emotional incompetency. Loss of clients is almost always due to lack of appropriate response to a complaint or situation. “Great companies are made from great employees”: We couldn’t agree more with this resonant statement from survey. The results of the survey captured the “true costs” of a bad hire, serving as an important reminder of the value of a good hiring process – and good employees. According to the survey, 41% of companies surveyed said that a bad hire in the last year cost them at least $25,000 while 25% of companies surveyed reported that a bad hire cost them at least $50,000. How can companies avoid these unnecessary costs? And how can they retain and encourage the growth of good employees?

In addition, across the US workplace bullying is on the rise. Masked as bad behavior, manners or Workplace bullyetiquette, bullies are obvious – they throw things, slam doors, engage in angry tirades, and are insulting and rude. Others, however, are much more subtle. While appearing to be acting reasonably and courteously on the surface, in reality they are engaging in vicious and fabricated character assassination, petty humiliations and small interferences, any one of which might be insignificant in itself, but taken together over a period of time, it is costly to the business enterprise and poisonous to the working environment, says Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business Management.


Emotional Intelligence

Forbes Magazine says 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim. Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in industries, at levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.

Today’s workforce is not what it was twenty years ago, ten years ago or even five years ago. With new generations entering the workforce, new technologies becoming part of daily routines and new methods of communication emerging because of these technologies, a successful professional must understand acceptable corporate behavior and cannot remain static in a dynamic business world. The dynamics of conducting business has changed due to the heavy integration of technology into the workplace. In the current business environment, meetings and business trips have been replaced by telephone conference or video conferencing; telephone calls have been replaced by e-mail and instant messaging. Additionally, the concept of globalization has also affected the forms of personal interaction. Organizations save a lot of time and money by conducting business using technology instead of the older more personable methods and can pursue distant opportunities, according to Leigh Goessl of Inside Business.


Corporate related activities have provided awareness and the need to enhance social skills for professionals and executives for many years. Each of these examples is highlights addressing the need for the enhancement of social skills for the workforce:

  • BusinessWeek has repeatedly ranked Claudio Fernández-Aráoz of Stanford University a top global expert on talent and leadership and as one of the most-influential executive search consultants in the world. Claudio found in an analysis of new C-level executives that those who had hired for their self-discipline, drive, and intellect were sometimes later fired for lacking basic social skills.
  • 2013-Partnership for 21st Century Skills, “Nearly three-quarters of survey participants (70 percent) cite deficiencies among incoming high school graduates in “applied” skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, defined as “demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g. punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management.”
  • 2013-Georgetown University study: 96% of workers have experienced rudeness in the office
  • 2012-Center for Talent Innovation-Study on Executive Presence “Reveals that the top jobs often exclude women and professionals of color because they lack “executive presence” (EP), or underestimate its importance. And they’re simply not getting the guidance they need to acquire it.”
  • 2000-2013-Johns Hopkins University-The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study began as a collaboration between the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute, the John Hopkins University, and local business leaders. “…majority of respondents (67%) indicated that they felt society had become less civil in the previous year. Fewer (25%) felt that their workplace had become less civil over this year.”
  • 1995-Harvard University’s Daniel Goleman authored the internationally best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence, which spent more than one-and-a-half years on The New York Times Best Seller list.
  • 1993-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) creates a Charm School for social skills for its students, in 2013 they celebrated their 20th year, and draws annual crowds of 300 to 500 students.
  • 1920, Columbia University psychologist Edward Thorndike pointed out “the best mechanic in a factory may fail as a foreman for lack of social intelligence.”



Photo courtesy of Google images

Executive Presence focuses on strengthening business relationships for your role as an employee and engagements with clients and peers. With Executive Presence STEM leaders focus on enhancing their ability to communicate their vision and ideas with passion and confidence, read non-verbal signals, connect and build rapport, inspire, motivate and lead to get the best result from people, build positive relationships and listen effectively, command a room, build authority and express themselves articulately, deliver messages professionally using technology and social media, and dress to project leadership presence and enhance stature and reputation.


Photo courtesy of Google images

Many people admit that public speaking is their biggest challenge. If you find yourself constantly dreading the next presentation, you have to give or the next time you are in front of the boardroom, Executive Presence can facilitate your plan to take concrete steps – before, during, and after your presentation – to alleviate your fears. Before you speak publicly, understand that it is about your presence with the content. While content is king, your presence is on equal footing. Do what you can in advance to make yourself as prepared as possible: Practice your presentation at least three times before you deliver it to others. Craft a winning PowerPoint or Prezi presentation that you feel proud of. If possible, rehearse with the presentation equipment so you can be sure that technical difficulties won’t arise. Your body language can make you feel more confident, during a presentation. Try striking a power pose: even if you don’t feel confident, making yourself look strong and competent – or, “faking it until you make it” – will make you feel better.

effective communications

Photo courtesy of Google images

Effective communication is so important to the success of individual professionals and workplace as a whole. But when internal or external contacts are difficult to communicate with, it can be tempting just to give up entirely on communicating effectively. While avoiding communication may be an easy fix in the short-term, good communication skills are vital for long-term professional relationships. In fact, a lack of effective communication may be even the root of the problem. Straightforward, clear communication with a positive tone- whether in face-to-face conversation, email or over the phone – is the best way to go. Negative comments or the “cold shoulder” are never constructive in business. Additionally, refining your Executive Presence will lead to good communication skills. Executive Presence can enable you to solve issues in the workplace, and can help you build rapport with others and foster positive relationships.

maintain grace under fire

Photo courtesy of Google images

The ability to maintain grace under fire is a key element of Executive Presence. Of course, this is easier said than done. One major way to improve the way you handle intense pressure in a stressful situation is to manage your overall workplace stress. To keep stress in check on a daily basis, try taking short breaks throughout the day, schedule activities outside of work that focus on other goals or interests, and stay organized. Attempting to stay calm and composed on a regular basis will help you keep control when situations escalate. You will also need tactics for those especially intense moments. If a stressful situation involves a colleague or another contact, Psychology Today’s Preston Ni suggests taking a deep breath and slowly counting to ten before saying something you might regret. Or, if you are at the brink of a difficult decision, Ni recommends doing a cost-befit analysis by listing pros and cons and numbering them in order of importance. This allows you to step out of the stress and see situations in a logical way. Our strategies and methodology integrates organizational culture components: values, attitudes, beliefs with the pillars of professional presence to improve soft skills and provide practical steps to for solutions for today’s talent to become highly productive employees, excellent communicators, and leaders of influence.

  photos are courtesy of Google Images.


panache-logoTerri L. Williams is a professional and executive presence expert specializing in communications, gravitas, and appearance. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of specialized experience in human resource management and corporate protocol. Terri is also a veteran of the United States Army, with service in domestic and international assignments. As the President and Founder of Panache Career Strategies, LLC, Terri L. Williams leads Executive Presence training programs and seminars that can help you to improve your skills. A leader in facilitating the “gold standard” in a wide range of services focused on solutions for individual, group, customized programs, seminars and keynote speeches. Working with leaders and executives Panache Career Strategies, LLC will support their executive presence goals in communications and gravitas.

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