In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month, we spoke to Elizabeth Hutt Pollard, Chair of our Board of Directors, about women in leadership. Applied Silver celebrates the contributions of all the women on our team who are helping us transform everyday linens and clothing used in healthcare, sports, hotels, and homes into germ killers, infection fighters and health protectors.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: “My leadership style is one of servant leadership. I believe it’s important for leaders to demonstrate that they are committed not only to the mission of the company, but also to their employees – showing that they are willing to come alongside to mentor and help achieve success is one of the most important things we can do as a leader.”
Q: In your view, how does Applied Silver benefit from having multiple women in leadership roles?
A: “I think that diversity is one of the critical success factors for any business, and by diversity I don’t just limit that to gender diversity, but also include ethnic diversity as well as diversity of thought. Being able to capitalize on different viewpoints, and ways to approach problems, or to design and create is what yields the best outcomes, especially for early stage companies that are trying to establish a brand [and] at the same time provide disruptive technology.”
Q: On that note, what does it mean for you, as a woman, to have a leadership role in the context of the STEM and start-up landscape?
A: “I’d like to be able to say that it’s not that meaningful because so many women are in the STEM technology space starting companies, but unfortunately that’s still not the case. I think it’s really important that we all need to be pioneers in this world – and once again, that crosses all forms of diversity – and really be working to make the world a better place and provide that social good element in everything that we do. I think that being a trailblazer, even today, in the STEM space is important for women and I want to be doing my part to demonstrate that diversity of thought is what makes the world a better place.”
Q: And lastly, are there any leaders in particular who inspire you?
A: “One of the people that inspired me most is no longer alive, but that person was Dr. Rosalind Franklin. Rosalind Franklin was a chemist – I’m also a chemist – and she was particularly focused in the field of X-ray crystallography, which at one time I had considered doing a PhD in. [She] really is the person who was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA and RNA, and yet she never won the Nobel Prize for that. It was awarded after her death to [James] Watson and [Francis] Crick. Her work was seminal, and certainly it was very solid science, and yet she was overlooked. I look to her as a leader, not only as someone who was brilliant, but also embraced humility in that she should’ve been recognized throughout her career, and even after her life, and wasn’t. And yet people are talking about her today, and still talking about her. I think leaders like that – who are transformational – are the ones that really have that lasting impression.”