Sunday, March 8th is International Women’s Day – a collective day of global celebration focusing on the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce wants to take this opportunity to applaud the significant strides the hardworking women in Delaware County have made thus far and continue to make every day.
To commemorate International Women’s Day, we’re proud to highlight Trish McFarland, President of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. Continue reading to learn more about this strong, forward-thinking leader who uses her exceptional talents to connect the local business community and pushes the chamber to greater accomplishments year after year.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got where you are today?
I began my career in Chamber work right out of college. I worked for Rob Powelson at the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. A position at the Delaware County Chamber opened up and I was hired by Jack Holefelder as an events coordinator in March or 2003. I left the Chamber as Vice President in 2011, when I struggled to figure out the work-life balance. I worked for the Delaware County Transportation Management Association and PA CareerLink in the City of Chester for a combined 4 years before accepting the position of president.
All of those positions, we developed through relationships, contacts and successful networking.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
To manage a resort on a tropical island
The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is more than 120 years old and you were the FIRST WOMAN to be named President of the organization. Can you tell us a little bit more about his time your life. Any thoughts, reservations, feelings that you had?
I was SCARED! Having left the Chamber 4 years before, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to balance work and home. The Chamber is very event and meeting heavy with early mornings and nights. That’s a lot for anyone to balance. I had 3 young kids, so I was sure they made a mistake offering the position to me!
The fact that I was going to be first woman to be named president actually never crossed my mind at the time. I knew I had the skills and ability to take on a role in Chamber work, but Leading such a prestigious organization was intimidating, to say the least. But I have learned that surrounding myself with honest but supportive people makes everything much more manageable.
When professionals are asked what they do for a living, they can generally come back with a response with in 10 or so seconds with their position and the company they work for but when you ask them why they do what they do for a living some professionals hesitate. Can you tell us your “why”?
My “why” is my three daughters. I always want them to be proud of who I am. To follow their dreams. Even when things seem tough, giving up is never an option. Hard work is always worth it.
In addition to your role as the President, you’re a mother, serve on numerous boards in the area, and coach youth sports. How do you juggle it all and what have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) to get to this stage in your life?
Success doesn’t happen on its own. I have an amazing support system of family, friends and coworkers.
I am a firm believer in networking. Through networking, I built strong relationships which allowed people to see that I am trustworthy, dependable and reliable. Having that attitude and surrounding myself with like-minded driven people, is undoubtedly what has helped me to be successful.
Professionally, I wouldn’t say I necessarily sacrifice anything. It’s just realizing what is most important and learning that it is OK to say no and ask for help. The path to a goal may not always be a straight line, and priorities may have to be adjusted, but I will always get there.
My expectations of personal success have shifted. There will always be nonnegotiables for me; family time and working out. Everything else is best described as controlled chaos. If you stop in our house mid-week (especially during basketball or soccer season), there’s a very good chance that it will appear as if a bomb went off. But my husband and daughters are so supportive of everything I get involved in, so we always figure out a way to make it all work.
However, if you ask me a question about a movie or TV show after 2015, I will have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. My goal is to one day learn how to use the TV remote again!
Define a great leader—what are some traits you think great leaders possess.
A great leader is resilient, empathetic, humble, self-aware, passionate, courageous, decisive, confident and inspirational
What’s one significant leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Give credit to the team for success and assume responsibility for mistakes.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership and are there any strategies or advice that you can share to help women who want to achieve a more prominent role in their organization?
My advice to achieving a more prominent role in any organization is to not be afraid to take risks, talk openly about your goals and surround yourself with people that will give you the supportive but honest truth.
What is your favorite memory in all of your years at the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce?
I’ve had almost 15 years in Chamber work with many unique experiences.
My favorite memories have been the past few years; Axe throwing as a staff and the day trips we take to Sea Isle for our networking event at Kixx!