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How TTN Member Sharon Kelly Hake Became a "Great Dame"

October 29, 2017

I first met Sharon Kelly Hake in October 2016 at the TTN Member Mingle in Center City, and soon after Sharon joined our Philadelphia Chapter.  Sharon quickly took advantage of what TTN offers, joining a Peer Group, the Wine Lovers SIG and an informal group of TTN women mostly from Queen’s Village who just like to hang out together. 

Sharon impressed me and I wanted to learn more about how she launched her own company,  Great Damesand became the  President and CEO.  Great Dames is a remarkable company that is dedicated to connecting and mobilizing women to enhance their personal and professional leadership abilities while creating a legacy........."kindred spirits with purpose".  

Sharon had a very successful 30 year career as a top corporate executive at DuPont.  She was the global marketing and strategy leader, had hundreds of employees reporting to her, was responsible for new business development and branding, traveled extensively all over the world.  She raised two beautiful daughters, and was in a very happy marriage.  After celebrating her 50th birthday a number of years ago, the question “What have you done to justify your existence?” kept nagging and gnawing at her.  There was something missing, something elusive that she'd been looking for her entire life, an inner voice that led her to question and reflect on the impact she wanted to have in the world and the legacy she wanted to create.

After a lot of searching and introspection, Sharon found her “inner leader”, quit her job and launched Great Dames.  She is passionate about women helping women become successful leaders, drawing on women’s instincts as strong collaborators, your best allies, sharers, mentors.  Great Dames lets women know they don’t have to go it alone; there are mentors, peer advisors, coaches, talking circles, workshops on personal branding and leadership effectiveness training and other resources for early/mid-career women to draw upon.  
Sharon knew she wanted to be a much more authentic leader and to share her expertise with others.  It was a gutsy move launching a new career in her 50’s.  It is also very inspiring to hear the clarity with which Sharon talks about her own leadership purpose and the impact she wants to have in the community (see Resources section below and listen to the TEDx Talk she is featured in). As Sharon stated, "Once you have that clarity of purpose, something inside you changes.  It shows up everywhere.  It shows up in how you describe yourself, your relationships, in your work and play." 
I asked Sharon if she had any insights from Great Dames to share with us and what TTN has meant in her life.  Sharon hopes we recognize the extraordinary wisdom we collectively have as TTN members.  Our power comes from our experience and perspective.  She encourages us to reach out to a younger woman, a family member or neighbor, a former colleague, perhaps a younger board member for those of us that volunteer.  Ask them what’s going on.   You’ll be surprised how much they can teach us in return. 

She has found TTN to be a place where she has forged true friendships and deep connections with others.  “You can never have too many friends” sums up a core part of Sharon’s belief system.  Take advantage of what TTN offers, get engaged.  Women are better off when surrounded by other women and the relationships we form in TTN enhance everything!
Resources: Note:  This article, written by Marsha Yankelev, is based on an interview with Sharon Hake on October 27, 2017