Making and Defending Tough Decisions

In business we make decisions every day to move forward and achieve our goals.  But some decisions are more difficult than others.  For many important decisions, assessing choices can be stressful with money, limited resources, career prospects, and personal reputations on the line.  Learning from the experience of others can be invaluable in making difficult decisions. Panelists will be asked to share stories of tough decisions they have had to make in the professional world, including how they made the decisions, the outcomes of those decisions, and the lessons learned.

Panelists

Brooks Bell, CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive

Maria Kingery, Co-Founder and Director of Cultural Development SEM

Becky Smith, Senior Director of Global Operations at Red Hat

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Brooks Bell, CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive

Brooks Bell

Brooks is the CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive, a data-driven marketing firm that specializes in full-service testing and optimization for landing pages and conversion paths. Their clients include Chase, The Washington Post, ServiceMaster and AARP. She is Duke Trinity ‘02 alumna with a BA in Psychology. Prior to founding Brooks Bell Interactive in 2003, she was a Co-founder of novelProjects, a web design firm (now part of Atlantic BT). Brooks and her husband live in North Carolina, with their Sealyham Terrier, Theo.

Brooks speaks regularly on landing page optimization, web analytics and entrepreneurship. She’s the President-Elect for the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization. She is also a 2009 recipient. of the prestigious Triangle Business Journal Women in Business award. Learn more about Brooks and BBI at www.brooksbell.com

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Maria Kingery, Co-Founder and Director of Cultural Development SEM

Maria Kingery

Maria co-founded SEM in 2001 and serves as our chief visionary and director of cultural development. She also plays a key role in our team resources, marketing and business development efforts across all offices.

Prior to starting the company with Bob, Maria served as retail operations manager for Burt’s Bees, where she helped create a business framework that led to increasing the availability of Burt’s Bees products across the state and country, and opened the company’s first retail store in Carrboro, NC. She also has sales and marketing experience in the commercial printing and business products industries.

Understanding that people are SEM’s greatest asset, Maria is dedicated to bringing in the best. Not only is she responsible for building our top-notch team of sustainable energy professionals, but she also works hard at creating a balanced work environment where people are challenged to grow and develop to their full potential, personally as well as professionally. Last year, for example, she created a “Mind, Body and Soul” gift to the team at our Morrisville headquarters that included a lending library, a basketball goal in the parking lot, and a quiet meditation room where team members can go when they need to take a break from the high energy atmosphere that surrounds our fast-growing company.  Check out her contributions to The Smart Energy Exchange, SEM’s blog, by clicking here.

Besides working to help Bob build SEM and do their part to make the world a better place for their grandchildren, Maria’s favorite activities are cooking, reading, and dancing in the living room with Zach.

Maria holds a BA in English Literature from NC State University.

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Becky Smith, Senior Director of Global Operations at Red Hat

Becky Smith

Becky Smith is the Senior Director of Global Operations for Red Hat.  She is responsible for Change Management and program implementation across the Sales and Operations teams globally, and leads the Global Volunteer Program at Red Hat.

Prior to joining Red Hat, Becky spent 11 years with Bank of America.  She started her career as a credit card collector working the night shift while completing her bachelors degree.  She progressed through several leadership roles during her tenure, including Collections Supervisor, Probate Operations Manager, Customer Satisfaction Manager, and Process Design Manager.  She also spent 4 years as Vice President of National Credit Card Bankruptcy, handling all processing and litigation functions.

Becky received her BS in Business Management from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia in 1997.  She completed her MBA at UNC Chapel Hill in August 2008 while working full time and raising a family.

She has been actively involved in local volunteer activities, and recently joined the Board of InterFaith Food Shuttle.  She is also a graduate of Leadership Raleigh 24, was the program chair in 2009, and continues to participate on the Leadership Raleigh Alumni board.

Becky has two young boys, ages 8 and 6, and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, reading, and competing in triathlons.