Category Archives: Member Spotlight

Insights, Enhancement and Education on Topics that matter to Women in Business

All Category: Member Spotlight

April 28, 2021

Cable Member Profile: Ylonda Banister

Name: Ylonda Banister
Company: State of Tennessee Government
Title: HR Program Manager, Recruiting
Brief description of your job responsibilities: I create strategies for the recruiting team within DOHR and ensure proper sourcing and marketing to support high-volume diversity recruiting. I establish and manage reporting and key performance indicators and support internal and external stakeholders. I have accomplished my division’s strategic objectives in multiple areas of department activities.
Cable Member Since: 2020

Why did you decide to join Cable? I joined Cable to broaden my network of like-minded individuals who are committed to their personal and professional development while also making a positive impact in the community.

What have you gained/learned from joining an organization like Cable? As a new member, I have attended two sessions hosted by Cable. One session was extremely helpful in the area of personal finance. The second session helped me professionally in my role as a governmental recruiter. I was able to utilize the job board to announce essential jobs in state government. 

How would you describe the benefits of Cable to someone thinking about joining the organization? Cable is a unique organization assisting women at all levels of their professions. Cable has designed programs and sessions for women that empower, educate and engage. Cable is a diverse group of women, multi-generational women, ready and able to help you in your personal and professional development. 

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges professional women face in the business world today? One of the biggest issues I see and have experienced is the lack of succession planning. As a woman who served for 27 years in the military, including as an officer, I coached, led and trained soldiers. I also had the privilege of preparing new leaders and officers. Due to my continued advancement, I was required to relocate to various sections of the country and recognized this challenge of insufficient succession planning. We are not adequately preparing the next generation of female leaders in business, government or our organizations. We as leaders must prepare the next group of leaders, and not just on how to be effective in their jobs and positions, but on those social skills necessary to advance their personal goals, strategic group agenda and organizational mission. 

What would you say has been the single most defining moment in your career so far? As a Recruiting Station Commander, I was responsible for all candidates joining the Army from my area. I had a candidate who was preparing to join the Army, and I requested a copy of his high school transcript along with his high school diploma. When I contacted the school, they had no record of a student by that name attending their high school and let me know the diploma was a fake. Once I found out that information, I made the decision to have the candidate “pulled” from the enlistment process. That decision cost my team the mission and jeopardized my credibility as a recruiter. This was the moment I knew who I was “when no one was looking”; I was a person of character and integrity. 

What would you say has been your biggest career achievement? My biggest career achievement was fulfilling a promise made to the families of soldiers I recruited. As a recruiter for the Army Reserve on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I recruited soldiers for the Active Army and Army Reserve. Joining the military at any level is a process, and the families are always involved. Many times, when I explained the recruiting process to mothers and fathers, they would ask why I wasn’t in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I answered, “I will get my turn.” In 2014, I fulfilled my promise to those families; I served nine months overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soon after returning from this final deployment, I retired from the military knowing I had served my country well. 

What would you say has been your biggest career setback, and how did you get through it? One of the most challenging times in my career was when I worked for someone who did not trust me. While I was on vacation, and after working as an office manager for about six months, the senior manager told everyone during a staff meeting that I was going to be “fired.” When I returned from vacation, I asked some of my co-workers if I had missed anything, and they informed me that the senior manager told them I would be fired when he returned from vacation. I was shocked by the news, as I thought I was doing a good job. I contacted my senior manager, so I could find out what was happening. He explained his point of view, and I explained my point of view with the facts and proof of how I was doing my job. Once he returned to work, he verified my proof and apologized for not speaking with me in advance. After that incident, I changed the way I communicated my accomplishments and projects. I started sending him weekly reports, so he would know what I was working on and would not have cause to doubt my job performance. I did not get fired. But it was from that experience that I learned to always ask my leaders how they wanted me to communicate with them. I recommend everyone read “The Speed of Trust” to understand how important trust and communication are to performance. 

What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career? Join a professional organization connected to your profession. Professional organizations are a great way to learn about your profession, make friends and gain experience. Professional organizations keep members up to date on skills, knowledge and trends in their profession. I did not join an organization until after I left the military. If I had joined an organization early in my career, as I moved around the country, I would have had a ready-made community of people who shared common goals and aspirations. These organizations are a great place to find mentors and make friends while still developing as a person and a professional. 

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March 3, 2021

Cable Member Profile: Robyn Bass

Name: Robyn Bass
Company: Maple Ridge Events, Cedar Ridge Nashville and WBEC South
Title: Owner/CEO of Maple Ridge Events and Cedar Ridge Nashville, WBE Products and Services Director with WBEC South
Brief description of your job responsibilities: Robyn Bass is a longstanding pioneer in Nashville’s event and hospitality industry. Working in event management for the past three decades brings a wide variety of experience to the organizations she now runs. A fearless expert in “life direction” redesign, Robyn’s current focus is strategic planning and organizational growth for her companies and as a strong supporting advocate for women business owners in developing programming and training opportunities for Women-Owned Enterprises through WBEC South. Serving on multiple boards for many years and a champion for continuing education within her teams, Robyn is a true trailblazer, coaching future leaders that grit, grace and resilience always prevail.
Cable Member Since: 2017
Current or past Cable committee or board role(s): Athena Committee

Why did you decide to join Cable? I joined Cable because I am a huge advocate for empowering women and supporting women business owners and entrepreneurs. I am at a time in my life where I want to give back professionally. My life journey has included many mentors who have helped me grow and thrive. I aspire to pay forward the guidance so freely given to me along the way back to those women desiring similar paths.

What have you gained/learned from joining an organization like Cable? The women in Cable are strong, resilient, smart and community-minded. I have learned that women who support other women create a priceless community. There are so many intangibles that happen when we are taking care of each other, supporting one another’s businesses, advocating and empowering each other.

How would you describe the benefits of Cable to someone thinking about joining the organization? Cable is an excellent source for leadership and women’s professional advancement. It helps prepare women to lead and continue to move into leadership positions, and it connects us with opportunities!

What would you say has been your biggest career setback, and how did you get through it? I do not believe in the word setback. I think these are all continual life lessons. Let me offer some context to this belief. After the 2010 flood, my life drastically changed, and I was forced to make life-altering decisions. I was at one of my lowest points. But that was when I ventured on my own and started Maple Ridge Events. That moment of adversity turned out to be one of the best opportunities of my life.

I like to say I am a fearless expert in “life direction” redesign as I am currently in my third life re-invention. I am in a similar situation now dealing with the pandemic. COVID has decimated the travel and events industry, and Maple Ridge Events catered to corporate meetings and conventions. Our revenue has been non-existent since March 9 [of last year] when our last live event was in downtown Nashville for 4,500 attendees and took three days to execute. Like many others in my line of work, we have been in survival mode since then. 

We are all doing what we must do. I am one of the fortunate ones. And here is why … One of the organizations I volunteered my time and energy to was Women Business Enterprise Council South (WBEC South). Now I am a part of their team. As a strong supporting advocate for women business owners, I am now developing programming and training opportunities for women-owned enterprises through WBEC South and helping women get certified through our national organization, WBENC. I have a passion for the organization and truly feel a sense of purpose for what we are building. I would not be in this position if I had not become engaged in the organization three years ago. I am exactly where I am supposed to be because of the women who made up my circle, my community and the countless opportunities we have created for each other.

What would you say has been the single most defining moment in your career so far? In life, moments of adversity teach invaluable lessons that would not have been learned otherwise. Sometimes those shakeups (redirections) are exactly what you need to point you in the direction of your intended path. Trusting your instincts (even when they are hard), forging on and never giving up are the real character-building moments.

What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career? Get involved in organizations like Cable that focus on professional growth and women empowerment. These communities build you up and help you thrive. Become an active member. BUILD THOSE RELATIONSHIPS. You only get out what you put in. Do not expect more until you do more.

What was your very first job? I was raised by working-class parents and I held three jobs throughout high school. In the morning I went to school, in the afternoons I worked as a dental assistant (through a vocational program), and in the evenings I delivered pizzas and worked in a bookstore. I learned that in life there are no free rides, and a good work ethic is an essential piece of the puzzle.

If you had unlimited funds and could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Since the pandemic … I would love to go anywhere. I would travel first to visit family as well as some of my dear friends. I cannot wait to hug my loved ones. I am sincerely looking forward to real face-to-face interaction and simply connecting with my community of friends and family in person again.

Robyn’s Contact Information:
Robyn Bass, DMCP
Maple Ridge Events and Cedar Ridge Nashville / RMBass@mapleridgeevents.com
WBEC South / rbass@wbecsouth.org
Direct: 615-992-5161

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February 22, 2021

Cable Member Profile: LaTanya Channel

Name: LaTanya Channel
Company: United States Small Business Administration
Title: State Director, Tennessee
Brief description of your job responsibilities: Manage a team providing resources to small businesses in the state of Tennessee.
Cable Member Since: 2019

Why did you decide to join Cable? I joined Cable after attending with several colleagues and because of the emphasis on connecting all women of all ages in all industries.

What have you gained/learned from joining an organization like Cable?  I have gained closer bonds with women who I knew before Cable, but because of Cable we actually stayed connected.

How would you describe the benefits of Cable to someone thinking about joining the organization? Joining is especially beneficial if you are new in town and need to meet and connect with others.

What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career?  Imposter syndrome is real and will cause you to hold yourself back.  If you are approached for a job change or career change, give it serious consideration because the person(s) who approached you ALREADY knows you are the best for this opportunity. Do not say “no” for any of these two reasons: You do not think you are worth it or because you do not believe you are qualified. You are worth it; you are qualified. You need to just simply decide if the job or career fits your lifestyle (geography, pay, culture, etc.).  Again – you ARE worth it; you ARE qualified. Mull over everything else, not these two aspects.

What was your very first job? I was born and raised in a small, northern (geographically) but southern (in values) city where most folks work for the same “company” called the Federal Government. So, my first job was in that same city at age 14, at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., as part of Mayor Marion Barry’s Summer Youth Employment Program (affectionately called “SYEP” by D.C. natives). I was terrified, but I learned confidence, how to be responsible in a work environment, how to open a bank account and also learned other bus routes to get me around the city!

If you had unlimited funds and could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would take two months traveling, learning and listening in Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Southern Italy, and New Zealand; and then, after all of that “work” (traveling, learning, and listening to the people, culture, and vibes of those places), I’d vacation for a month in an overwater bungalow in the Bora Bora!

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February 2, 2021

Cable Member Profile: Tracy Ayers

Name: Tracy Ayers
Company: Renasant Bank
Title: Senior Managing Director
Brief description of your job responsibilities: Providing investors and developers of commercial real estate properties throughout the Southeast with banking services to help them be successful.
Cable Member Since: 2013
Current or past Cable committee or board role(s): Past Finance Chair, current At Large Board Member on Finance Committee

Why did you decide to join Cable? Prior to joining, I had visited at some luncheon meetings and was so impressed by the caliber of women I met and the excitement in the room at the meetings. I knew right away that this was a place I wanted to be. While my career was already established, I knew that this was a place that I could grow as a person, sharpen my skills and give back to other women on their own journeys.

What have you gained/learned from joining an organization like Cable? The most important to me is knowing that I’m not alone in my journey. There are members with every skill set and at every stage of career that you can imagine, with generous spirits, who are willing to push each other and Nashville forward. 

How would you describe the benefits of Cable to someone thinking about joining the organization? Being in the room (even if virtually) with women the stature of those in Cable is the great benefit. Members get to choose how much they want to tap into.  There are countless opportunities for education, networking, celebration, recognition, skill sharpening and giving back, and each member can choose how to participate.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges professional women face in the business world today? While we as women still face challenges such as pay inequity and discrimination, we’ve made some progress, and these are topics that are openly discussed now. Among women that I know, confidence and knowing our own value is one of the biggest hurdles to our success. We should have our own “personal board of directors” who will tell us honestly of our value and encourage us to reach for the next rung.

What would you say has been your biggest career setback, and how did you get through it? The recession of 2008/2009 hit all of commercial real estate pretty hard. I learned that the loyalty of clients and friends can get you through even the worst of times and see you to the other side successfully.

What advice would you give to a young woman just starting her career? Get involved!  Join Cable! Seriously, though, not just joining an organization but volunteering your time and talents, make connections, and find the places and people you enjoy. This will naturally pay dividends in the future.

If you had unlimited funds and could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would want to take a year and see the whole world, every continent! I’d spend extra time where it’s warm.

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