Mackinac Partners Senior Managing Director Melissa Kibler was one of seven women leading insolvency associations who spoke on the “International Women’s Day Leadership Panel” on the final day of the “Women at the Forefront of International Insolvency” symposium, a virtual conference sponsored by the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC) and the International Insolvency Institute.
The symposium, focused on the continuing growth and role of women leaders within the restructuring and insolvency practice areas globally, included six panels of 34 female experts from across 20 countries.
Kibler, who currently serves as President of the American College of Bankruptcy, spoke about growing up with parents who valued hard work and education, her career background and the strides women have made within the profession.
“I was the third woman to be President of the American Bankruptcy Institute (‘ABI’) approximately 10 years ago and am happy to report that three more have followed subsequently. Now I am the second woman and first non-attorney to be President of the American College of Bankruptcy (‘the College’),” she said.
Kibler spoke about the career importance of being actively involved in professional organizations and her path to leadership, as well as the importance of mentoring others in their own journeys.
“One of the influential mentors in my career, Bettina Whyte, introduced me to ABI, took me to my first conference and encouraged me to get involved,” she said. Kibler suggested that professionals “pick a major” and choose one of the many worthwhile professional associations on which to focus their efforts at a given time. That, she said, will enable professionals to dedicate the time and effort to “go all in” and “say yes” when asked to volunteer, entrenching themselves in the organization.
Kibler also noted that the people who receive the most value from a professional association are those who are truly seeking to work for the good of the organization, rather than with an end goal in mind. “Reaching the role of President or Chair of a major insolvency association takes a combination of not only one’s own effort and skill, but also the sponsorship of others and the good fortune to be in the right place and at the right time for an organization,” Kibler said.
The single most important responsibility of each leader, Kibler posited, is to identify those individuals who will work with them and then succeed them in leadership. Speaking on International Women’s Day, and consistent with its “Choose to Challenge” theme, she closed by asking participants to think about who might be in their spheres of influence, and particularly of “those women to whom you can reach out and offer that opportunity.”
“I would never be here speaking to you today were it not for the many people who did that for me along the way, so use your power to help elevate others.”
The full Leadership Panel discussion can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/zYdHXHJgxfk