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Local Profile’s 2023 Women in Business: Fatima Robertson

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:
From the very beginning of her career, Dr. Fatima Robertson wanted to be a problem solver. Whether a person had missing teeth, advanced periodontal disease, or anything that made them feel self-conscious about their smile, she wanted to be the person who provided answers. Through diligence, dedication and extensive study, she now has those answers. As The Oral Plastic Surgeon for patients in the Allen and McKinney, TX areas, she’s able to take oral healthcare to the next level. Robertson inherited an eye for design and her skilled ability to use her hands from both her mother, who could design and sew just about anything, and her father, a skilled carpenter. As an adult, she applies these talents, along with her love for science, to periodontics and she loves that her chosen career allows her to combine both art and science. However, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of her job is simply helping people. 

What is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce? How can they overcome it?
Although we acknowledge the presence of gender bias and pay inequality in the workplace, I believe the biggest challenge women face is often internal negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy. This self-sabotage can be more damaging than external factors. Overcoming this hurdle requires the cultivation of supportive relationships, particularly through mentorship and community. By surrounding themselves with positive influences and building a strong support system, women can effectively combat internal negativity and thrive in their professional endeavors.

What's your biggest motivation?
My greatest motivation is to be remembered at the end of life for leading a meaningful existence, beyond mere success. I strive for my life to be purposeful, ensuring that my efforts leave a significant impact and provide a path for others to follow. It is my aspiration to carve out a space not only for myself but also to unlock opportunities for others to thrive and wholeheartedly pursue their dreams because they saw me do it. I aim to ensure that my life's journey is purposeful and leaves a lasting, meaningful footprint beyond material wealth or accolades.

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?
Changing a company's culture to promote inclusivity and diversity requires a deliberate and comprehensive approach. It begins with strong leadership commitment, setting the tone for the entire organization. Education and training programs help employees understand biases and cultivate a culture of respect. Diverse hiring practices ensure equal opportunities for all, while inclusive policies support work-life balance and pay equity.

Our company has created a vibrant and inclusive work environment that celebrates diversity. By nurturing an inclusive culture, we have inspired confidence, nurtured growth and fostered a sense of belonging where a woman's voice is heard and her contributions are valued.

What was the most difficult decision you’ve made in your career so far?
The most challenging decision I had to make in my business was the strategic choice to scale back and increase profitability. It involved reducing the number of in-network insurances we accepted, which initially meant taking a pay cut. However, this decision was driven by the need to focus on more profitable services and prioritize quality over quantity, ultimately yielding greater rewards.

At first, it was a daunting prospect to turn away patients covered by certain insurance plans. It meant letting go of a portion of our customer base and potentially risking our reputation. However, we recognized that by streamlining our services and focusing on areas where we could provide the most value, we would ultimately enhance the overall financial health of the business. The decision required careful analysis and consideration of our strengths, market demand and profitability margins. We identified services that aligned with our expertise, had higher profit margins and held strong growth potential. This allowed us to offer specialized, high-quality services to a select group of patients who would appreciate and benefit from them the most.

Scaling back and reducing patient volume enabled us to provide more personalized attention, invest in training and equipment and deliver exceptional experiences. Over time, our decision paid off as our reputation grew, attracting patients who valued our expertise and were willing to pay a premium for our services. Though difficult, the decision to scale back was necessary for the long-term sustainability and profitability of the business. It required a calculated risk and a shift in mindset from quantity to quality. Today, we are reaping the rewards of that decision, with increased profitability, higher patient satisfaction, and a stronger foundation for future growth.

What was your breakthrough moment?
The breakthrough moment from that experience was when we witnessed the tangible results of our decision to scale back and prioritize profitability. It occurred when we began seeing the positive impact on our financial health and the overall satisfaction of both our team and our patients.

Overall, the breakthrough moment was marked by a shift in mindset, realizing that focusing on profitable services and creating a niche for ourselves could lead to long-term success and sustainability. It propelled us to continue prioritizing quality over quantity and paved the way for future growth and success in our business.

What advice do you have for women hoping to break through?
My advice to women is to trust and follow their instincts in your business. Listening to their "first mind," as my grandmother called it, can be a powerful compass in decision-making. Society often downplays intuition, but it is a remarkable tool. Women possess a unique ability to tap into their intuition and emotional intelligence. Embrace uncertainty and have the courage to be true to yourself, even when others doubt you. Seek guidance but remember that your intuition is your personal superpower. By honoring and trusting it, you can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and create a life that aligns with your deepest desires and values.

How do you promote a healthy environment for yourself and your employees?
Several key factors contribute to the overall well-being and productivity of the business. Firstly, we embrace the motto of "working smarter, not harder," encouraging efficiency and prioritization. Implement a schedule that starts early and finishes early, allowing for a healthy work-life balance. Incorporate designated breaks, such as a one-hour rest period during the day, to recharge and rejuvenate. Additionally, we foster a culture of flexibility, recognizing that individuals have different peak productivity times. Finally, we promote open communication and a supportive atmosphere, where individuals feel comfortable discussing challenges and seeking help when needed.

What is your most noteworthy achievement as an agent of change? What are you most proud of?
I am incredibly proud to be the first African-American woman to own a dental practice in Allen, Texas. Breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes, this achievement represents not only my personal success but also the progress toward greater diversity and representation in the business world. Additionally, I take immense pride in steering my business through the challenges posed by the pandemic. Despite the uncertainties and obstacles, I successfully navigated the storm, ensuring the survival and continuity of my practice. This accomplishment showcases resilience, adaptability and the unwavering commitment to serving my patients and community. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact, both as a trailblazer and as a resilient business owner, and I hope to inspire others to overcome barriers and pursue their dreams fearlessly.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
In retrospect, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. Every experience, both challenging and joyful, has shaped me into the person I am today, and I am grateful for the lessons learned along the way.

What's the best advice you've received in your career? Who gave it to you?
The best advice I've received in my career is to "work to live, don't live to work." This mantra reminds me to maintain a healthy work-life balance and prioritize my overall well-being. It emphasizes the importance of nurturing personal relationships, pursuing hobbies and taking time for self-care. By valuing my life outside of work, I can recharge, find inspiration, and bring a more fulfilled and focused mindset to my professional endeavors. This advice serves as a constant reminder that true success is not solely defined by professional achievements, but by the ability to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life in all aspects.

What is your motto?
"I will seek significance over success."

What book do you recommend every professional woman read?
I highly recommend every woman to read the book Disruptive Thinking by T.D. Jakes. The book encourages readers to break free from conventional thinking patterns and pursue their passions fearlessly. Through practical advice, the book empowers women to tap into their unique abilities, unleash their creativity and make a positive impact in their personal and professional circles. It is a must-read for those seeking to challenge boundaries, embrace change and create meaningful and impactful lives.

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