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Local Profile’s 2023 Women in Business: Caren Lock

The annual Women in Business Summit is scheduled for September 8, 2023
CKL headshot 2019(2)
Photo: Caren Lock

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:

Caren K. Lock is the regional vice president and associate general counsel of TIAA. She is the primary interface for the company and its subsidiaries on all legislative, executive, regulatory and administrative matters for the South and Midwest regions. Her expertise includes board governance and risk, policy development, regulatory compliance, government relations and crisis management. Lock lives in Allen, Texas with her husband and mother. Lock serves on The Dallas Mavericks Advisory Board, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum and the President’s Advisory Board of UT Southwestern Medical Center. The State Bar of Texas recently awarded her The Champion of Diversity Award for the Asian Pacific Interest Section.

What is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce? How can they overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges women face in the workplace is underrepresentation in executive roles. In the McKinsey & Company report titled Women in the Workplace 2022, only one in 4 C-suite leaders is a woman and only one in 20 is a woman of color. Corporations need to be more intentional about mentoring and sponsorship of women. It is not a one size fits all strategy. Recognizing the unique challenges and opportunities of early talent is a good start but also providing growth opportunities for senior leaders so that they can make it to the executive rank is even better.

What was the most difficult decision you’ve made in your career so far?
The most difficult decision I made was leaving the practice of law and pivoting to lobbying with no formal experience. I dabbled in it as general counsel of a start-up, but I had no hill experience. It was fast and furious working in state capitals. You learn to be agile, innovative and resourceful when state legislatures meet only a few months every year and in the case of Texas, every 2 years.

What is your most noteworthy achievement as an agent of change? What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the Orchid Giving Circle —  a fund that provides grants to nonprofits serving the North Texas Asian community. I along with a dozen other generous and committed Asian women started Orchid Giving Circle in 2015 on the belief that we can democratize philanthropy by pooling our resources to support change and services to North Texas Asian Americans. Since 2015, Orchid has granted over $1.5 million directly into our own community. Orchid Giving Circle has granted to nonprofits addressing healthcare, arts and culture, domestic violence, education access, social justice and many other areas of interest.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
If I had to do it all over again, I would still make all the same decisions even though some of those did not bring about a positive result. Failing is learning — if you have never failed, you haven’t stretched yourself. However, I would give myself more grace and not set the bar at perfection. I love that I have a sisterhood of supportive, intelligent, and honest girlfriends. They gut-check me and remind me what is important in life and that is the family you are born with and the family you choose.

What's the best advice you've received in your career? Who gave it to you?
The best advice anyone gave me is to be kind to everyone and especially to the people who least expect it. It was my first legal job and my partner said to be nice to my paralegal because she can make or break my career. He was right because my first paralegal knew more law than I did. The core of who you are is demonstrated by how kind and considerate you are when you are having a bad day. I try to always tell people that I appreciate them rather than just a simple thank you. In saying “I appreciate you,” there is a direct acknowledgment of their service and effort.

What is your motto?
Make room at the table for others. 

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