“Power is control over an environment, but real power is the power of influence,” Donna Preiss, founder and CEO of The Preiss Company, said. “That’s what leaders have.”

Bisnow Panel Preiss spoke these words as a panelist at Bisnow’s “Power Women of Atlanta” event.  The panelists discussed the obstacles they face in their careers, defining success, and achieving a work-life balance with high-level positions. The event provided a forum for dozens of women across industries to listen and engage with top women executives in the city. 

Moderated by Hartman Simons partner Debra Thompson, the panel consisted of Mae Douglas, chief people officer at Cox Communications; Shirley Powell, executive vice president of corporate communications at The Weather Channel; Ann Cramer, director of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM Americas; and Preiss.

Though they’ve all had successful careers, it has not always been easy. The panelists discussed the personal and professional challenges, including gender discrimination, they have faced. (Hartman Simons' Debra Thompson pictured below)

Debra Thompson “Just because women are in senior positions in a company doesn’t mean discrimination doesn’t exist,” Powell said. “That’s like saying racism doesn’t exist anymore because we have a black president.”

Although disparities in the workplace are decreasing between men and women, and women are surpassing men when it comes to education, panelists agreed the corporate  “glass ceiling” still remains.

“It’s absolutely still there,” Douglas said. “Our challenge is to not adopt a victim mentality, but figure out how to make women successful regardless.”

What defines success? There’s no doubt these women have it! The panelists described a combination of determining your base values, figuring out what makes you happy and finding personal and professional balance.

“Success is about being clear on who you are, determining your base values and knowing your life’s vision,” Cramer said.

Thank you ladies for that insightful discussion and Bisnow for giving Hartman Simons the opportunity to sponsor this event!