Interview with Sharen Nocella, Chartwell Law

For this year’s International Women’s Day, our team at Slice is proud to celebrate women across the marketing and communications industry through an interview series. Follow along throughout the week leading up to International Women’s Day to read about these inspiring women and their stories.

This interview is with Sharen Nocella, the Chief Marketing Officer for Chartwell Law, which has 153 attorneys across 19 offices located throughout the United States.

How do you define your leadership?

I define my leadership style as involved but not hands-on. I empower and trust my team and do not confine or micromanage them. I also try to inspire them to develop their skills and encourage creative thinking and professional growth. I set high standards for ethics and for the quality of work my team produces. I believe that I must also be an example by treating everyone with respect and being appreciative of each person’s contribution to the team and organization. Lastly, I believe in sharing the spotlight, so to speak, with your team members and giving them a chance to shine.

How has your leadership changed over the years you’ve been working?

Over the years, my approach to leadership has changed in that while I am still involved, I am more hands-off and don’t need to make every decision. Empowering my team to make decisions, be creative and take ownership of their roles is a much better way to lead; it engenders trust and the team becomes more invested in the outcome.

Can you share a story that demonstrates a key learning for you in your leadership journey?

Years ago, I wrote a speech for my boss to give at a high-profile charitable event my firm was hosting. This was an event that would be attended by business leaders, local celebrities and politicians. It was a big deal. I worked very hard on the speech which included describing the valuable works of the featured charities performed. 

A few minutes before we left for the event, my boss reviewed the speech again. After he read it, he closed his eyes and sat there thinking. I thought he was going to make a change of some sort. Instead, he handed me the speech and said, “I am not going to give this speech.”  “Oh no!” I thought. He then said, “You are.” I was stunned. He went on to say that I did such a good job and he could tell how passionately I felt about the charities that he thought I would be the best person to deliver the speech. 

My boss introduced me and said he told the crowd that he thought it best that tell the crowd about the charities we support and why. If I do say so myself, I gave a very moving, impassioned speech and got a standing ovation.

It was a wonderful gift given to me that taught me gratitude and to lead by giving other the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

What role do you think marketing communications should play in the future of your organization or industry?

Defense law firms are still very much a profession that thrive as a result of relationships. These firms are trying to figure out how social media and digital mar-comm fits into their marketing communication strategies. I see this sector of the legal industry starting to embrace digital communications by proactively and strategically developing content — like writing blogs, producing podcasts and creating videos — to provide value-added services to their clients, to establish themselves as thought leaders, and to enhance their recruiting efforts.

What do you think young women entering the marketing communications field should know?  What advice do you have for them?

For young women entering the marketing communications field, I would tell them to make it their business to understand how marketing communications integrates with and impacts other areas of an organizations, such as finance, IT, HR and business development.  Knowing how these disciplines work together and are dependent on each other will help them advance their careers. 

Even with how far women have come, I still see women, even in senior level positions, being apologetic when they ask for something or when they offer a different perspective or opinion, or when a request is granted. I offer this advice to young women starting in any field: be respectful, be authentic and be professional, but do not feel or act sorry or repentant when doing your job or asserting yourself.

Interested in more? Check out the full interview series here.

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