When Megan Weinkauf, Recruiting Manager with AcctKnowledge, decided it was time to transition from her already-established accounting career path to something new, she was faced with a situation many professionals find themselves struggling to come to terms with: where do I even begin? Find out how she forged a new path for herself and why she so strongly believes that building community with other professionals is a career step no one should overlook.
4word: To begin, tell our readers a little about yourself.
Megan: I am a Recruiting Manager with AcctKnowledge, a placement firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I began working in accounting when I was 19 years old and pursued an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Arkansas. I worked in accounting all through college and, upon graduation, accepted my first “real” job as an Accountant for the American Red Cross in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Little did I know what God had in store for my life with moving to Tulsa.
My boss was great at helping me plug into the community, which sparked my passion for volunteering and helping people. We started a local Toastmasters, and I was asked to be on the first Red Cross Junior Board. I met my husband through being on the Junior Board, and as they say…the rest was history. I went on to work in different accounting and financial positions over the next several years within industries including oil and gas, aerospace and defense manufacturing, and software.
In January of 2015, I began my Masters in Business Administration through the Jack Welch Management Institute, Strayer University, and transitioned into a different career altogether as a professional recruiter. I am expanding my knowledge in business development, social media marketing, helping people see their potential, and encouraging them to go after their dreams. Transitioning careers was not easy. However, I am grateful for my school, mentors, and coaches.
4word: After working in the accounting field for a several years, you decided you wanted to take a new career step. What led you to the Jack Welch MBA program and how did that program help you discover your next career move?
Megan: After speaking with the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI), I knew this was the place for me. Having the chance to learn from the top CEOs in business was very appealing. The mission of JWMI is to help their students get ahead, and that is exactly what everyone lives and breathes at JWMI. Jack and Suzy Welch, along with all the staff, are committed to students’ success and adding value through this premiere MBA program.
4word: The women who were involved in the Jack Welch program were very vocal advocates for female confidence and leadership in the workplace. Were you inspired by these women? Do you feel as though women in the workplace need more "voices" to be their champions?
Megan: Many women inspire me daily, especially Diane Paddison. Suzy Welch is involved in the program, and is someone I greatly admire. She is a successful business woman and an inspiration for us all. JWMI promotes women from within, and their former dean, Andrea Backman, is an inspiration. Truthfully, when I found out the dean was a woman, I loved the program even more.
Women at every age need more voices to be their champions. Women need other women, and men, to cheer them on to success. God put all of us here on earth for a purpose, and we should help one another succeed by building one another up. The greatest gift you can give to someone is encouragement. I am challenging everyone reading this post to take the time to send a note of encouragement to a woman who inspires you. It will make her day and, you never know, it might change her life for the better.
4word: What constitutes a "great leader" to you? What are some traits that female leaders should be diligent in perfecting if they want to be effective in their positions?
Megan: Being a great leader, to me, is a way of life and not dependent on a job title. We are all made for a greater purpose in this life, and focusing on the bigger picture will help us become great leaders through our daily behaviors. Relationship building is huge in business and very important for female leaders. There are different levels of relationships, and building alliances is a trait female leaders should learn.
Female leaders need to be bold and stop apologizing so much (myself included). I had a wonderful male mentor who helped me in this area. I learned from Jack Welch when he said, “Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.” You have to be self-confident to give self-confidence to someone else. Know who you are in Christ and seek out a mentor to help you along the way. You can do anything in life if you will get out of the way and let God be the driver! Also, every single day is an opportunity to show the love of God to someone you meet, and this trait is needed in business. The business world is a mission field waiting for all of us to pour love into and change lives for the Kingdom of God.
4word: How important would you say it is for women to build a support group for themselves, both personally and professionally?
Megan: Support groups are a huge benefit for professionals, especially for women. We need one another to spur us on to be great leaders. Learning from one another and being able to share experiences is the greatest way to grow. Personally, 4word: Tulsa is a place where I can share struggles and learn from women who are smart, wise, and great female leaders. The relationships built through this group have been life changing for me. I knew no one when this group began, and now I have life-long friends.
4word: Should younger professional women seek out mentors? If so, what can they expect to learn from a (potentially) more seasoned professional woman? What have you personally gleaned from your mentors that has helped shape who you are today?
Megan: Yes! Yes! Yes! Younger professional women should seek out a mentor. Learning from more seasoned professional women will give you the confidence to move forward in your career. Having a mentor will push you to learn, grow, and take action. I’ve had a few key mentors in my life who have given me the confidence to go back to school for my MBA and transition into a career that has pushed me to grow and learn. 4word has a great mentor program that helps women find someone they can look up to and learn from in the process. A mentor is able to see things in you that you might not be able to see in yourself. Confidence is key in order to become a great leader and having a mentor is the way to gain the confidence needed to succeed in life and business. I would like to thank two of my greatest mentors, Kevin Powers and Cathy Gates. I would not be where I am today without God, mentors, coaches, and a great MBA program.
4word: Anything else you'd like to share?
Megan: I love 4word so much and so grateful this organization was started by Diane. I love everyone in this organization and want them to know how utterly grateful I am for all the hard work and sacrifice it takes to keep it going. I am truly forever grateful. 4word was a gift from God in my life and came at the right time.
Have you “grown” your professional support system? As Megan said, it is an incredibly beneficial step for anyone to take if they want to succeed on their career journey. If you haven’t found your support community yet and would like to, click here to see if there’s a 4word: Local Group meeting in your area! (If you would like to see a 4word: Local Group in your city, click here!)
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Megan Weinkauf, Recruiting Manager, began her accounting career during college and had the opportunity to work within various industries over the last ten years’. Recently, Megan began working on her MBA through the Jack Welch Management Institute where she decided to move into the accounting and financial recruiting and placement market. She enjoys being able to use her accounting background while working with hiring managers to identify talented accounting and financial professionals. Megan is looking forward to creating relationships that will last a lifetime in the industry and community.
Megan grew up in Northwest Arkansas where she completed her BSBA in Accounting with a minor in Marketing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Megan is actively involved in the Tulsa community serving on the Tulsa Area United Way Community Investment Panel, Advocacy Planning Committee, Emerging Leaders Society, Friends of Finance, Women’s Leadership Council, Unlock Freedom Treasurer, Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Treasurer, and Bible Study Leader through City Church. Outside of volunteering, Megan enjoys spending time with her husband doing anything outdoors. She enjoys riding horses, playing tennis, and spending time with family and friends.