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Local Profile’s 2023 Women In Business: Kristi Sherrill-Hoyl

The annual Women in Business Summit is scheduled for September 8, 2023

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:

Kristi Sherrill-Hoyl leads philanthropy and outreach to the community, both critical parts of Baylor Scott & White’s transformation as it implements its customer-centric approach to healthcare. In her role, she oversees community affairs and the system’s foundations. Most recently, Sherrill-Hoyl served as chief policy, government and community affairs officer. Before joining Baylor Scott & White, she served as chief of staff to the Mayor of Dallas. Active in her community, Sherrill-Hoyl serves on the Dallas Citizens Council, the Crystal Charity Ball Committee and the Cotton Bowl Association.

What is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce? How can they overcome it? 
The biggest challenge remains how to balance managing one’s whole life – personal and professional. How does one balance raising a family during the most productive years of a career? How do you manage the pressures, meet the challenges and also have time for yourself? The answer is always clear, but part of the balancing act is recognizing when you have to pull back from one area and refocus on another. I think this is an ongoing conversation and challenge.

What’s your biggest motivation?
I want to be a good role model for my daughter and pass on the ability to go big in life and make bold choices to really make an impact.

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? 
When I think about future women in the workforce, my mind instantly goes to the idea of women re-entering the workforce. How can women exit and return to the workforce (after raising kids) in a meaningful and productive way? This solution hasn’t been invented yet, and it’s an issue our aging country will continue to face as people work longer. But I want to be part of those conversations. I think there are a lot of talents and skills these women can contribute to the workforce.

What was your breakthrough moment?
I was the chief of staff for two mayors and was at a point in my career where I was ready to move on. I asked some of my colleagues and mentors where they saw me going and I didn’t expect the answer I got. Why? Because it was Earl Nye, the CEO of TXU, who told me he saw me becoming a CEO. It was his belief and encouragement in me that pushed me forward. I might have chosen a much safer route, but he sparked a new direction because he believed in me. He’s still a mentor to this day. It’s part of his nature to pour into the people around him. Looking back on my career, I see that this support helped erase the fear of starting something brand new, which is something I’ve been tasked with doing more than once in my career.

What advice do you have for women hoping to break through?
The single biggest boost you can give yourself is to identify and cultivate life-long mentors. Find those people who will help pull you through and make time to build that relationship, make time for that cup of coffee. You think you’re so busy and you don’t have time, but make the time. It’s invaluable. And then later, be that same mentor to someone else. Help others make those connections with people who have different skill sets or resources than you.

How do you promote a healthy environment for yourself and your employees?
Keep very open dialogue so it’s an environment where you can say things and others can ask questions and vice versa. As a leader, I want to promote, give credit and provide opportunities to others. For example, I had a situation recently where I really encouraged someone to pursue her MBA because I really saw something in her and wanted her to go to the next level. I think that when you invest in others and really support them, it builds loyalty and excellence and that will cascade down through the organization over time.

What is your most noteworthy achievement as an agent of change? What are you most proud of?
Truly, I think what I’m most proud of is not being afraid of change. I knew early on that education was freedom, something I’d learned from my mother. So having that educational foundation freed me to be willing to change things up when I needed to. And also, to do new things and be open to change at different points in my career.

How long should you be willing to fail before you succeed?
The key is to not let mistakes define you. There’s value in failure. I’ve learned the most from my failures. They’ve helped me look at things critically. You never want a failure, but they are great teachers. If you can look back critically and are teachable, you can learn.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
I don’t think I would do anything differently. I will say that I don’t have any regrets and in fact, I think I have more chapters ahead of me. 

What do you do if you find yourself in situations where things are not going the way you want them to?
My natural tendency is to close in. But what I’ve learned is that instead of closing in, I need to do the opposite and open up. This means addressing those challenging situations by going to colleagues and advisors and saying “I need help. I need perspective.” The mind of three or four, or five or six, changes the paradigm.

What’s the best advice you’ve received in your career? Who gave it to you?
I’ve had the luxury of working with so many brilliant people in my career, but I think what I remember most is the words of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk who always urged us to go bold and dream big. To dream the audacious dream. He said that you can always cut and idea or plan back, but if you start small, you only achieve small. 

Who is your biggest role model? How can you be a role model to others? 
Without a doubt, it’s my mom. She was a divorced mom raising three daughters and she came from that generation where you could be a teacher or a homemaker. She instilled in me that education is a cornerstone. She had the gift of helping others find and pursue their passions. She said if you have an education, you can always start over. Now, I fully embrace those same ideas as I want to be that kind of role model to my daughter and be a mentor to others. I encourage others to have a clear idea of their goals and to then build on their skill set, one success at a time. Success builds success.

What is your motto?
Always bring your A-game.

What book do you recommend every professional woman read? 
Lean In by Cheryl Sandberg. This was and is a powerful read that I return to again and again for its encouragement. It supports the idea that women have an important voice and have earned the right to have a seat at the table.

What would be your commencement advice to new graduates?
Be open to finding a mentor. When I was in college, I made an appointment with folks I thought I had the knowledge that I needed. I knew it was a risk to put myself out there. But I knew instinctively that these were people who had wisdom, who could help. And it worked! I got very positive feedback and many of the people I connected with were happy to share their advice and perspective. So the advice is this: be willing to get feedback. Be willing to ask people questions. Be willing to put yourself out there. You’ve got to put yourself in the game.

The 2023 Women in Business Summit is currently sold out, but you can still email [email protected] to join the waitlist. For more information about the upcoming event click the link here