From ‘Spicy Trainer’ to SVP: Navigating 25 Years of Leadership as a Woman in Corporate World

As a woman who has navigated the corporate world for over 25 years, my journey in leadership has been both exhilarating and challenging. It all began with a simple print ad seeking a "Spicy Trainer" – a role that immediately piqued my interest and ignited a passion within me. Little did I know that this opportunity would serve as the cornerstone of my career trajectory, propelling me towards roles of increasing responsibility and influence.

Nancy Sylvester - Executive_with border New

Joining a company owned by men but primarily operated by women felt like the perfect fit. After a rigorous selection process comprising five interviews and a presentation, I knew in my heart that this was where I belonged. The prospect of being a corporate trainer resonated deeply with my innate desire to teach and lead. It was a role that allowed me to leverage my proven ability to achieve goals, harness leadership skills, and connect with people on a profound level.

As I immersed myself in the responsibilities of a trainer, I discovered the true essence of leadership. It wasn't just about attaining personal success; it was about empowering others to realize their full potential. Over the years, I transcended the corporate lattice, eventually earning a seat at the executive table invited by a male leader. Progressing to VP of Organizational Development, one of the most rewarding aspects of my journey has been witnessing individuals step out of their comfort zones, evolve, and achieve heights they never deemed possible. 

"Through empowerment and inclusion, we can create a world where every woman's leadership journey is celebrated and cherished, propelling us towards a brighter, more equitable future for all."

Nancy Sylvester

In my experience, leadership transcends not only mere skill and knowledge. It's about cultivating listening skills, nurturing emotional intelligence, calculated risks, trusting your instincts, wielding influence, and, above all, prioritizing the greater good of the organization and its people. These qualities, I believe, come naturally to women and should be embraced and capitalized upon in the corporate landscape to help any organization grow and succeed. 

One pivotal moment that underscored the importance of gender equity in the workplace occurred during my tenure on the compensation committee of the organization. Utilizing a platform to analyze job roles and salaries, we were confronted with a visual representation of pay equity – pink for women's salaries and blue for men's.  No names, just colored dots.   I held my breath.  To my gratification, our organization exhibited a balanced approach to pay, reflecting our commitment to fairness and inclusivity. It was a poignant reminder of the progress we've made and the work that still lies ahead in championing gender equality in all spheres of leadership.


In conclusion, my journey from a "Spicy Trainer" to SVP exemplifies the transformative power of women in leadership. By embracing our inherent strengths, fostering inclusivity, and championing equity, we can forge a future where leadership knows no bounds of gender. Together, let us continue to inspire, uplift, and lead by example, paving the way for generations of women to come.  Let’s give them a voice.  Truly ask and truly listen  Let’s give them a seat at the table and make the career dreams of women (and all people) come true. 

Thank you to Nancy Sylvester for her 25 years of service to The Family Security Plan®!