Former Southern Company CIO and UWG Alum Inspires Women in Business

Monday, October 7, 2013

The University of West Georgia and Richards College of Business will be hosting Becky Blalock, author of the recently released DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women in Charge, for a book signing and speaking event on Oct. 24, 2013. Blalock, a UWG alumna, will return to campus for a full day of events including a speaking engagement that is free and open to the public at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. Blalock is available for interviews upon request.

Blalock’s book DARE offers encouragement and support to women striving to make it in the business world. She provides heartfelt personal advice and wisdom for how to keep moving forward and upward, along with practical strategies for achieving great potential. She draws on her more than 33 years of experience with Southern Company, a Fortune 500 utility company and the sixth largest utility company in the world, including her time as the company’s chief information officer. Under her direction, Southern Company was named as one of CIO magazine’s “100 Most Innovative Companies” and as one of Computerworld magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work in IT.”

Blalock also includes insight from 28 other top women executives in all industries of business including Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girls Scouts of the USA; Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon; Carol Tome’, CFO of Home Depot; Dr. Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College; and Jeanette Horan, CIO of IBM. According to Blalock, one of her most interesting interviews for the book was with Dr. Roberta Bondar. “Roberta was the first female astronaut and the first neuroscientist to go into space,” Blalock said. “The woman is brilliant. She truly was a trailblazer.”

Blalock, a managing partner at Advisory Capital, a strategic consulting firm that provides insight and expertise to companies involved in the energy, information technology and medical industries, graduated from West Georgia in 1978 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. She went on to complete a master’s degree with honors in finance from Mercer University and the Program for Management Development at Harvard University. At Harvard, in a classroom of 120 students, only 12 were women, and Blalock admits that she was intimidated to speak in class for fear of saying the wrong thing. After some encouragement from her all-male study group, she found her voice.

“What I learned is that I knew as much as anybody in the room, and I could change the whole thought of where we were headed if I just opened my mouth and spoke,” she said. “I think we grow the most when we feel personally at risk. Another way I grew, frankly, was being thrown into some jobs, being scared out of my wit, feeling like I wasn’t qualified, but then going in and surviving and being highly successful. Those experiences teach you that you can succeed.”

Even before Harvard, Blalock credits West Georgia with many of her successes. At UWG, she not only met what would be her future husband, but she also found her career path and her intuition for business. Guidance and encouragement from one of her UWG professors lead her to change her major from social work to business.

“I changed my major to business and discovered that I was able to do well in math as well,” she said. “I ended up with a career in business and that never would have happened had I not been at West Georgia and met my professor, Walter Woods.”

Once Blalock achieved “executive” status, other women began asking for advice, strategies and ways they could also reach that level of achievement. At first Blalock didn’t think she would have much to offer to the conversation, but once she started sharing her experience, she discovered that women were hungry for the information.

“I started thinking about the early days in my career and that there were really no female role models,” Blalock said. “I realized that even now there are not enough people out here telling these young women that they can do this. So I knew 15 years ago that I wanted to start collecting information and write a book.”

Blalock hopes that through her experiences she can make a lasting impact on students during her visit to UWG. “I hope that more people will be able to relate to my story, because I’m someone who really started at the bottom and didn’t know anybody, and ended up being successful,” she said. “West Georgia has always been there to cheer me on.”

For more information on Blalock and her book DARE, please visit www.beckyblalock.com. For more information on this and other events, please visit www.westga.edu/business.