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The news earlier this week that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc and CEO during the most successful period of its history - had stepped down prompted a dramatic drop in the companies shares, falling as much as 7 percent in the USA following the announcement. Jobs is so intrinsically linked to Apple that the news came as a shock to many, but the subsequent response asks the question: how important is a CEO to a company, and how deeply does a departure affect its wellbeing?

The fall in share prices suggests that shareholders fear that Jobs was so influential, and bore so much responsibility for the dramatic upturn in Apple’s fortunes in recent years, that his departure could begin a decline in their technological innovation and market domination.

In honor of the official American Business Women's Day on September 22nd, and the invaluable contributions female executives have made to global business, BlueSteps have launched an 'Executive Women in Business' Initiative for the month of September. We will be featuring content focused on the personal experiences of top female executives and the lessons learned along the way.

Take a look below at the first of five BlueSteps members who won a competition to submit their stories of progression as women in business.

My Journey Down the Rabbit Hole
by Dr. Linda Myers

The role of CEO is one that often comes with considerable pressure. Justin Menkes of Spencer Stuart (an AESC member firm) looks at what it takes to be an effective leader under high pressure situations, and how to bring the best out of themselves and others.

What attributes separate those who thrive under pressure, and those who crack under pressure?

While many feel that a senior executive doing basic tasks creates a sense that they are ‘all in it together’, Melba Duncan, author of the article ‘The Case for Executive Assistants’, argues against this in a recent discussion for Harvard Business Review. In this article we have gathered the key points raised by Ms. Duncan in the discussion, the full video of which can be viewed at the bottom of the page.
 
Why are Executive Assistants so important?
Many executives find themselves taking an introspective look, asking “What can I do to bring my company to the cutting edge?” Sarah Green of HBR, sits down with Jeff Dyer, co-author of the book The Innovator’s DNA, and discusses approaches one could take to become a disruptive innovator. The five skills he sets forth are questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associative thinking:
 
Questioning – Developing a question about a problem, company, or industry, and then working off that question to come up with new ways of solving it.
Many job seekers would love the idea of working from home at a telecommuting job. That’s easy if the job you’re interviewing for is already a telecommuting job – But what if it’s not ? How can you convince a hiring manager to consider changing an in-office job to a telecommuting position?

Want to structure a telecommuting job, but not sure how? Afraid that telecommuting could leave you at a greater layoff risk or with lower advancement potential because you’re not at the office every day?

At the core of both issues is employer value. If you create greater value for your employer in a telecommuting role, you’ll have less risk and less problems convincing an employer that telecommuting is a good idea (for them).

The recent News of the World scandal, whereby journalists have been found to be hacking into telephone and email accounts for private information, has the world questioning; just how far up does accountability go?

For News Corp, editors who were involved during the periods in question have been arrested, and faced the UK Commons media committee today (07/19/11) alongside James and Rupert Murdoch.


Rupert Murdoch claimed he shares no responsibility for what happened. Instead, he was simply let down by those he trusted. Brooks echoed his comments, claiming journalism is an arena of trust when it comes to how journalists and staff obtain and present information.

The European Union’s plans to enforce gender diversity quotas on boards are advancing, with calls in the European Parliament for EU-wide legislation to be put in place ensuring minimum female representation of at least 40% on supervisory boards by 2020.

There is a general acceptance that if member states/companies do not move to a more diverse board structure voluntarily, European legislators will enforce quotas in order to increase the pace of change and ensure greater female representation in listed companies across Europe. Why is that?

In a recent interview with the Havard Business Review, Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone discuss the implications of a study which tested the interaction between groups, gender and intelligence. In key findings, it was reported that the groups with more women performed better than those with less gender diversity.
 

What is a strategic plan?

Type the words “Strategic Planning” into a search engine and you’ll find everything from strategic planning templates to “simplified strategic planning” and more. I’m all for simplicity but my experience is that a useful, and well thought out strategic plan isn’t simple and requires a great deal of critical thinking, market analysis, creativity, vision, and communication. It is a plan to improve a company through a three to five year period into the future with some stated goal(s) as part the overall plan. A good strategic plan with yearly updates keeps a company moving in the right direction.