Women in Business brings together over 600 influential women from various sectors such as global enterprises, non-profit organizations, small businesses and government agencies within the North Texas community. It serves as a platform to celebrate, unite and empower the leading ladies of the DFW area.
On September 8, 2023, women across North Texas have the opportunity to connect with notable guest speakers, participate in enlightening panel discussions and meet like-minded professionals.
Meet one of our speakers:
Victoria Ungashick is a senior vice president and market manager for the Bank of Texas’ North Dallas Private Wealth team. Her team focuses on providing banking solutions ranging from mortgages to private aircraft financing, while also protecting their assets for long-term planning. Ungashick is also a member of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Young Professionals, serving on the advisory council and chair. She works with nonprofits in North Texas, encouraging others to volunteer.
What is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce? How can they overcome it?
They say that when both a man and a woman read a job description, the man feels qualified to apply if he meets 60% of the criteria, and the woman feels qualified if she meets 100% of the criteria. What’s the good news about this difference? As women, the power to change this is within our control … Raise your hand for promotions and new opportunities even if they seem like a stretch. I have heard so many leaders say that they took their next job before they really felt “ready” but it was the best thing for them because true growth tends to happen when you’re outside of your comfort zone.
To set yourself up for success when it comes to being out of your comfort zone, I have two pieces of advice… (1) Come armed with the facts — provide measurable and specific data points. Maybe I am just an analytics nerd, but when I can rely on facts more than opinions, I can go into conversations with more confidence. (2) Especially when it comes to roles/promotions within your company, be intentional with your mentor selection. Of course, a mentor should be someone you trust and who is respected. But furthermore, make sure you select mentors that are also advocates — what I mean by that, is that you need to have someone who is an advocate for you in the room when and where decisions are being made. It doesn’t matter if that is a male or a female mentor. I didn’t intentionally do this, but when I look back at the promotions I’ve received, I realized that my mentors were also my advocates, and they were people whose voices mattered in the organization. If you can prove yourself to those people, it can open a lot of doors for you. They may even tap you before you raise your hand.
What's your biggest motivation?
Being able to provide for my family. I am lucky to be surrounded by family-oriented people on my team. While we are all competitive and love to “win,” we also have similar values, personally and professionally, which help foster the respect of work/life balance.
How do you change a company's culture to promote inclusivity and diversity? What are you leaving for future women now that wasn't there before?
My answer to both is to lead by example. Sometimes it’s hard for us to picture ourselves taking the next step in our careers when the people before us don’t look like us. This is a powerful time for all of us in this room. We are at a pivotal moment where we may be the first of our kind to have a certain role, whether that is based on age, gender, race or another factor — and once we’ve stepped into that role we can be an example for someone in the next generation who will see someone that looks like them in the position, and it will give them the confidence that they can achieve that, too.
Now this is easier said than done. “Imposter syndrome” is something I have dealt with where I’ve thought… well, I am not qualified to do that. They’ve never had someone in their 20s in that role, or a female in that role — but remember that those attributes aren’t relevant to the actual job function. Think about the skills required for a role, and whether or not your skillset matches up with that role. Don’t compare yourself to the people before you and don’t let your differences deter you from going for it. It’s a really powerful thing. So what if the other people in this role are 50-year-old men? Someone was always the first to do something — it may just be you.
During the interview process for my first job, we had a “super day” of interviews. There were 6 women in the room and 30 men in the room. 6 of us were selected — one woman and 5 men. At first, I was surprised I was the only woman selected. But then I thought back to who actually applied and statistically, it made sense. This was an “ah ha” moment for me — I realized that we needed to get more women applying for the job in the first place. So then I thought back to my finance and accounting classes and realized those weren’t 50/50 either. It starts before the application process — we need more women pursuing male-dominated majors. Even before college, more young women need to have exposure to male-dominated industries, and more girls need to see women in those positions to be able to picture themselves doing that one day. I know that organizations such as the Girl Scouts have a focus on STEM-related job exposure now, which makes me think we’re on the right track. If girls can have exposure to these types of roles early on, it’s embedded in them at a young age that women can do those jobs. I’m not saying that every little girl should grow up and want to be in finance. But, every little girl should feel like if she wants to be in finance, there’s a seat for her at the table. That expands to boys too in female-dominated industries. That’s why leading by example is so important. These are unspoken examples that will definitely be picked up on by future generations.
What was the most difficult decision you’ve made in your career so far?
My husband and I are originally from Kansas City, and when we wanted to start a family, we had a lot of heart-to-hearts about whether or not we wanted to move back to Kansas City to be closer to our parents and siblings. I’m here right now, so we obviously ultimately decided to stay in Dallas so I could continue to pursue my career with Bank of Texas, and it made sense because he has flexibility with his job, and he can work from home. It’s funny that this comes to mind as a tough decision because ultimately, we didn’t “do” anything. We decided to stay on the path we are on — but any decision where you have to balance what’s best for you personally and what’s best for you professionally is difficult, as we all know. And as a new mom, I’m going to have a lot more of those decisions to come… so I’ll probably be the one needing advice from other women in this room on this topic!
What was your breakthrough moment?
I am still not sure I’ve had my “breakthrough” moment — but I’ve mentioned that I had a bit of imposter syndrome in taking on my current role as market manager. My former mentor/manager really convinced me that I was ready, so when I took the role, I felt confident knowing I could lean on him for anything that I needed. I took the role and 30 days later he left the organization for an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. I felt like my safety blanket had completely vanished. But it was the best thing for me. I realized that my dependence on him stemmed from a need for reassurance, rather than not knowing what I was doing. After he left, I can remember having a fire drill at work, and I picked up my phone to call him and realized — I can’t call him. I was in this role for a reason and could make the decision on my own. And I had a major mindset shift from that point forward, so it feels like a breakthrough moment.
What advice do you have for women hoping to break through?
Gosh, it sounds so cliché and simple, but do not be afraid to be yourself. I am so impressed when I see young women with vibrant personalities because when I first started my career, I thought that I had to tone done my personality to try to blend in. I don’t regret carrying myself in a professional manner, but I do wish that I would have let people get to know me sooner than I did. I was afraid I would say something that made me sound like a young female — but I needed to just own it. I was and still am a young female but once I started to lean into it, I felt so much more comfortable. Don’t be afraid to have a personality, because it will guide you to be in a role that is the right fit for you and you’ll really get to know your colleagues along the way.
How do you promote a healthy environment for yourself and your employees?
Take ownership of your mistakes. If you, as the leader, cannot admit when you’ve made mistakes, how can your team come to you when they have made a mistake? I think that goes along with the ability to be vulnerable. Fostering that environment makes communication so much more clear because fear is not in the way.
What is your most noteworthy achievement as an agent of change? What are you most proud of?
I was very proud to serve as the chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber Young Professionals organization in 2021. This was a challenging year to lead as it was during the pandemic. We needed to keep the momentum going and keep more than 400 young professionals engaged while still being shut down to in-person events. This organization focuses on service, policy, leadership and networking so we were proud to be able to pivot our strategy to continue to make an impact in the Dallas area, even while mostly virtual.
How long should you be willing to fail before you succeed?
One piece of advice that has always resonated with me is “Don’t give up on a goal due to the time that it will take for you to achieve it…the time is going to pass anyway.” So don’t let the length of time be a deterrent from going after a goal. If you’re getting better with each attempt, you should keep going.
That being said… the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So I think if you’ve approached something from several different angles, and still aren’t having success, it may be time to move on.
If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
I started in a leadership role in my late 20s and had people with nearly 20 more years of experience reporting to me. I felt really confident about my expertise in the job function but felt very nervous about the coaching aspects of the job. I decided to take a “servant leader” approach and try to be as helpful as possible. This was a mistake for me. I found myself reverting to the same type of work that I had previously done as an analyst and people became dependent on me. This wasn’t good for my team, as they weren’t growing their skills, and it wasn’t good for me. As my team grew, I couldn’t keep up. I quickly learned that I can and do add value to my team, not just in a day-to-day job function, despite the differences in experience. I quickly pivoted to a more traditional coaching role. Rather than doing things for people, I realized I can help them a lot more by empowering them to find the answers on their own. Can you imagine if I didn’t change this approach, and then went on maternity leave? Successful leaders aren’t constantly needed by their team members.
What do you do if you find yourself in situations where things are not going the way you want them to?
Outline the different outcomes and ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen? It sounds odd, but sometimes thinking about the worst-case scenario gives you some comfort, because you realize things aren’t really as bad as they seem. Then I work backward from each outcome and figure out what steps need to be taken to arrive at the outcome we desire.
I am very solution oriented — sometimes this is to a fault. In my personal life, my husband tells me that sometimes people just need to vent and I need to have more patience and compassion for that, but it’s in my nature to just want to find a solution immediately. I think in a professional setting, it can be a strength, but I would rather my team vent to me than vent to a peer, so you need to keep that line of communication open.
What's the best advice you've received in your career? Who gave it to you?
“Preparation is the closest substitute for experience” — I heard this from our bank’s executive of wealth management when he spoke to a group of us early in our careers in a training program.
Many people early in their careers want to accelerate their career paths and advance as quickly as possible, but you obviously can’t speed up time and suddenly have the experience that some of your more senior peers may have. So what can you do? You can put in the preparation now so when you’re called upon, you can shine. I love the quote “Luck favors the prepared” and I think there is a lot of truth to that. I know I was in the right place at the right time for many opportunities in my career, but I am not going to discount the work I put in so I could prove myself once called upon.
I think it’s also important to remember that preparation vs. experience is task specific. It’s not a general approach. So as you advance in your career, the things that you’re preparing for are going to look different than at the beginning of your career.
Who is your biggest role model? How can you be a role model to others?
My father — he immigrated from Italy when he was 21. He is a true example of coming to America to live the American dream. He built his own small business from scratch and worked so hard to get there. The way he got his first job is one of my favorite stories. His skill set was in dental technology and he was taking a few classes at a community college in Kansas. So to get his first job in America, he did research on dentists in Kansas City that may be hiring dental technicians and then orchestrated a “run-in” with the owners of that practice at their favorite lunch spot next to their office. He struck up a conversation with them and put himself out there and was eventually hired by them. Some mild stalking may have been involved but they’ve been business partners since the early ‘90s so it all worked out, and is a story we can definitely laugh about today.
Examples like this set the standard for a strong work ethic, and my brother and I have always looked up to him. Because of his sacrifices, we had the luxury of going about our first jobs in a different manner and could substitute the in-person stalking for some Linkedin searches to get leads. But nevertheless, when that level of persistence is the standard, you’re constantly working to achieve it, and it’s nice having a bar that is set so high.
What is your motto?
Why be a second-rate version of someone else when you can be a first-rate version of yourself?
What book do you recommend every professional woman read?
Every professional in leadership or pursuing a leadership position, man or woman, should read Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. This is a book that I wish I would have read before I took my leadership position for the reasons that I mentioned previously about empowering your teams to their fullest potential.