Brandi Thomas-Wilhite Shares Her Lean In Story

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Posted by Jennifer McCann Feb 23, 2016 0 Brandi Thomas-Wilhite Shares Her Lean In StoryBrandi Thomas-Wilhite is the Airport Properties & Relations Manager on the Airport Team located at the Clayton Corporate Park Campus. Brandi has been with Enterprise Holdings for ten years, beginning her tenure with the Real Estate Department. With the guidance and support of her managers and the women in her Lean In Circle, Brandi shares with us how she overcame leaning back, so that she could completely lean in. Brandi, educate us about how the Airport Properties & Relations Team supports our company growth initiatives.Our team supports the growth initiatives of all three of our brands as we are responsible for writing proposals in response to individual airport Request For Proposals (RFP). Our team spends considerable time analyzing RFP requirements and identifying trends within the current marketplace so that we can position ourselves with a competitive response. We prepare all of the necessary documentation to fulfill the RFP requirements and ensure that our deliverable is complete and professional in both content and appearance. We have a strong team with superior leadership where teamwork rules. Its a celebration each time we are awarded an on-airport concession for our brands."Can you tell us about a time that you either leaned back, or leaned in?In 2014 I was working as a Senior Airport Properties & Relations Specialist. I had been in my role for a few years and the Airport Team was reconfiguring. The position of Airport Properties & Relations Manager became available and my VP at the time, Sean Fitzgerald, was encouraging me to consider applying as it seemed like a natural progression in my career. This is the part of the story where I leaned back. Like many of us, I had a fear of not belonging, not feeling confident in my ability to move forward. Sean was coaching me, building my confidence during this time. He told me that I should consider joining a group called Lean In where some of the women in our company come together to talk about ways that we experience some of the same feelings in the workplace. It was a safe place to share and learn from each other. I was also receiving unsolicited encouragement from my biggest cheerleader my husband Ryan to consider all of the possibilities, if only I could get past some of the things holding me back. Not only did I lack confidence in my qualifications, but I was concentrated on what others would think of me. This was a turning point as I narrowed it down to three things: 1. What will others think of me if I dont try at all? 2. What will others think of me if I do try but dont get the position? 3. What will others think of me if I do get the position and dont fulfill their expectations? I realized that thinking this way leads absolutely nowhere other than continued negative self-talk. I had nothing to lose and an abundance of encouragement around me. I went with option 3.but with a twist. I leaned in. Not only in applying for the job, but in receiving the job and diving in with both feet. I went into performance mode. I was learning how to manage people, which has been one of the most fulfilling aspects for me both personally and professionally. At work, my team is my number one priority. I want to make a difference for them, so by focusing on their development and job satisfaction, I realize satisfaction in my job by proxy. This has been a significant turning point in my career, and I am grateful to those who were pushing me along the way.What would you say is your greatest success at Enterprise Holdings?Having the ability to change my thinking and my behaviors. Rather than being apprehensive and expecting the worst, I hope for the best and operate in a way that will hopefully lead to the best outcome. Pushing doubt to the side and just enjoying the excitement of an opportunity, and leaning in to those around me for support. Changing my thought process and behaviors has allowed me to build strong relationships, both at work and in my personal life.

What would you tell your 25 year old self?Put yourself in the shoes of everyone you are in contact with. Have empathy, see their perspective and also consider how they might be perceiving you. Every relationship you have is different and every person you have a relationship with is different. Make your best effort to adapt to all of those differences.

IN LIFE, THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN RELATIONSHIPS.What is the best advice you have received?Its not so much the best advice Ive received, but sometimes its those little pep talks that you get from someone you love that stick with you the most. My mom has obviously helped me out a lotthroughout my life, but one day about 15 years ago I called her because I was really struggling. Her words were quite simple but Ive never forgotten our conversation. She said, Honey, you can do this. Take a deep breath, splash some water on your face and tell yourself I can do this, I can do this. Now, anytime Im struggling I remember her words and it always helps.What is the best advice you have given to someone else?Recognize and be confident in your abilities!"

Give us a few fun facts about Brandi!I love live music, quality time with my nieces, camping, hiking and fishing.

My husband and I go on weekly date nights and annual trips to Mexico.Two years ago we adopted a rescue cat named Russell.I am part of the Social Committee for the Airport Team.I am involved with and firmly believe in what the Ronald McDonald House does for families. You can learn more about them at www.rmhc.org.We are very lucky to have Brandi as one of our leaders at Enterprise Holdings as well as an advocate for Lean In initiatives!

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