Women Worth Watching 2015
Robin J. Davenport
Parker’s VP Is a Respected Leader—at the Office and in the Community
Robin J. Davenport is vice president of corporate finance of Parker Hannifin Corporation, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. In this role, she has lead responsibility for the company’s global treasury, corporate credit, risk management, retirement plans, investor relations, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate strategic planning functions.
Robin joined Parker in 2004 as vice president of corporate business planning and development, with leadership responsibility for the company’s global mergers & acquisitions, divestitures, integration process, and corporate strategic planning functions. Prior to joining Parker, Robin served as vice president of business development and planning for CNH Capital Corporation (formerly Case Capital). She began her career with Firstar Corporation (now US Bancorp), where she rose to the role of vice president and regional senior lending officer.
“…harnessing the power of our differences is critical to success.”
“Earlier in my career, I was purposeful in maintaining gender neutrality. I would have taken exception to being singled out or offered a position because of my gender,” said Robin. “Yet as time has passed, I have developed an increased appreciation for the benefits of having a different perspective and being able to recommend what might seem to be a unique approach that is due, in part, from that perspective. It’s clear to me now that in addition to hard work and determination, harnessing the power of our differences is critical to success.”
Robin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Illinois and an MBA in finance and management policy from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. A community leader, she serves as a board member for the Cleveland Institute of Art, The Gordon Square Arts District, and Saint Joseph Academy. She is a member of Financial Executives International (FEI) and the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), as well as the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI Strategic Planning & Development and Investor Relations Councils.
Education: BS Finance, University of Illinois; MBA Finance & Strategy, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University
First Job: De-tasseling corn in East Central Illinois
What I’m Reading: “The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success” by William N. Thorndike, and “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and The Gender Divide” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…any good leader, regardless of gender, should have confidence in their capabilities and be purposeful in continuing to develop their skills and experience. Those leaders who engage with a high level of EQ (emotional intelligence) will certainly differentiate themselves by connecting to people in relatable ways and through that, help them to maximize their performance and potential.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Be prepared to take risks. . . and embrace change. With thoughtful consideration, you’ll broaden your perspective, skills and career horizons tremendously, resulting in opportunities that will far exceed your expectations.
Words I live by:
Never underestimate the power of engaging and timely communication.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I would have actively pursued an opportunity to live abroad earlier in my career. Although I’ve traveled extensively, the opportunity to have lived in and adapted to an international culture would have expanded my awareness and sensitivities and better prepared me to manage a global organization.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…ask questions. . . to ensure a full understanding of the issues and objectives, pursue data to develop a factbase and solicit ideas to ensure a well-rounded awareness.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
Shortly after completion of my MBA, I left a successful career in commercial banking and took a risk to pursue an alternative career path…one unknown to me at that time. The experience reinforced for me that the combination of perseverance and relationship building with realistic self-awareness is powerful. After a great deal of diligent effort, I was very fortunate to have identified that new career path, to network my way to job opportunities and to meet some amazing people who took a leap of faith by hiring and mentoring me along the way.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…rewarding. Earlier in my career, I was purposeful in maintaining gender neutrality. I would have taken exception to being singled out or offered a position because of my gender. Yet as time has passed, I have developed an increased appreciation for the benefits of having a different perspective and being able to recommend what might seem to be a unique approach that is due, in part, from that perspective. It’s clear to me now that in addition to hard work and determination, harnessing the power of our differences is critical to success. Finally, I recognize my responsibility to “reach back” as often as I can to engage with women earlier in their careers and share some of the valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…an invaluable learning opportunity. It’s important to make candid assessments, capture the key lessons learned and then move on with an objective of being more effective the next time.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…spending time with my husband, family and friends pursuing outside interests that include travel, bicycling and zip-lining.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
I’ve been very fortunate to find a career that is incredibly dynamic; one in which there are no two days alike. I have the opportunity to work on an ever-changing list of projects that span the globe, using my finance and strategic thinking skills, while being surrounded by teams of bright and engaging people with a shared objective to succeed. It doesn’t get any better than that!