Business

Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data, talks women in business

Dana Beckman, Alliance Data, Women in Business, Plano Profile

Dana Beckman is the Director of Corporate Affairs for Alliance Data, a company that provides data-driven loyalty marketing solutions to FORTUNE 1,000 companies.

As a child, Dana Beckman drew pictures of flowers and landscapes in her St. Louis, Missouri bedroom and dreamed of becoming an artist. She went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree from Webster University and began her career in graphic design before parlaying those skills into account service and creative project management. With the help of female mentors and many self-pep talks, Dana took a leap of faith and made a professional transition in 2008—and today, she couldn’t be happier with her decision.

As the Director of Corporate Affairs for Alliance Data, Dana oversees their global corporate responsibility strategy, including a multimillion-dollar giving budget, environmental strategy, and all external corporate responsibility reporting. The company was still young in 2008, investing around $250,000 annually, when they asked Dana to take over the grassroots community involvement program. Using her innate creativity and understanding of the company’s business goals, Dana has built a respected program at Alliance Data that is strategically aligned with the company’s mission and will invest $15 million in communities worldwide in 2018.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to develop a career in philanthropy and have the unique opportunity to build the corporate responsibility function for a fast growing company,” Dana says. “We have seen the corporate responsibility function mature with the business and it now plays an integral role in driving strategy.”

Over the past 10 years, Dana’s role has evolved significantly, responding to the changing business environment and growing societal expectations while attempting to stay ahead of the curve as corporate responsibility becomes increasingly imperative to a company’s success. Dana’s charge is to help the company embrace sustainable business practices that ensure positive results for both the company and society as a whole.

North Texas is full of opportunities and thriving companies with strong women in the business community, and Dana has carefully observed and thoughtfully learned from many of them. Half of the population at Alliance Data is women, and throughout her tenure there, Dana has always worked for women—something that has been incredibly influential for her career. She says that men advocating for women in business is also crucial; Alliance Data’s CEO, Ed Heffernan, is an ardent supporter of cultivating female leadership.

I feel very supported by my company and in my role as a woman leader. That comes directly from our CEO,” Dana says. “He empowers the women who work for him to do their jobs and to do them well, and that gives you the confidence to do your job the best you can. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to make a mistake and get back up again.”

At the end of the day, Dana strives to be her most authentic self and she encourages other women to do the same. Her recipe for success: a dash of knowing your audience and the situation, spoonful of savvy and confidence in your area of expertise, and a liberal amount of pep talks.

Dana is also one of the featured speakers at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit on Friday, September 28 at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park Hotel. Click here for tickets. 

We caught up with Dana to learn about the power of pep talks.

What obstacles have you faced? How did you overcome them?

I had the naïve energy and ambitions of someone who was blossoming in her career and wanting things to move at a certain pace, and the reality is that, in my experience, the business wasn’t ready for that. Keying into timing and developing patience is critical. I was beating the corporate responsibility drum for Alliance Data for years, and it took a long time before we produced our first report.

What advice do you have for young women who are just starting out in their careers and may be in the same situation?

Be patient but persistent. Be observant of cues around you and do not be afraid to ask questions. If someone tells you no, you have to be open to their feedback so that you can learn for the future.

“If someone tells you no, you have to be open to their feedback so that you can learn for the future.”

How are you an effective leader?

It’s all about inclusivity. The more I share and include others and ask questions, the more opportunities that come about, not only for me and my team and what we are trying to achieve for the business, but frankly for many other people. Including others brings a different perspective and sparks new ideas and opportunities. I love collaborating with other people in different functions and I am fortunate in my role that it kind of touches everything. I don’t own every operational aspect of the business but it does give me the opportunity to talk to HR, training and development and other operational roles. Being able to share and understand their vision usually results in really positive and mutually-beneficial outcomes.

Read more: How Jana Etheridge built a career in male-dominated workplaces

What advice do you have for women who are in leadership roles for the first time?

Dana Beckman, Alliance Data, Plano

There are times when you feel like you are failing as a manager because your team or a certain individual is not performing at a level you expect, or is taking advantage of your management style for being too nice or whatever. As women we can be very empathetic and not always know when is the right time to pull the chord or make the hard decision or have the hard conversation. I think it takes going through some experiences like that to really attain that level of leadership and courage that says, hey I can handle this. I need to handle this. And it is going to be okay.

How can women support the push for diversity in the workplace?

We need to constantly take stock of the makeup of our workplace and what is working and what’s not. It is a priority that we set an example, especially as a large company, of what we want reflected in our workforce and in our community. There is always work to be done to eliminate unconscious bias… in one way or another, it impacts all of us. Think about who your audience is and what they are expecting from you. Think about the type of community you would like to see.

“There is always work to be done to eliminate unconscious bias… in one way or another, it impacts all of us. Think about who your audience is and what they are expecting from you.”

What advice do you have for fellow women in business?

Be your most authentic self. Know your audience and the environment you are operating in. Become well-versed and savvy in your area of expertise. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a pep talk to reinforce our confidence.

“There is always work to be done to eliminate unconscious bias… in one way or another, it impacts all of us. Think about who your audience is and what they are expecting from you.”

Read more: Maxie McCoy on the potential of female leadership

How do you achieve work/life balance? What tips do you have for fellow women in business struggling in this area?

You have to find balance on both sides. We always start with work, but we need to have balance at home too. You need a good tribe and a good support system there to allow you that balance and flexibility. It is not easy and you are going to have ebbs and flows. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are fortunate enough to work in a space that has the appropriate benefits and resources, whether that is coaching or counseling, sometimes those are things that we need. We are all human. So all of that support in all of those forms is there for a reason, and we should accept it and make sure we are taking care of ourselves.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all human. We should accept help and make sure we are taking care of ourselves.”

How do women in business drive change and results?

I first look at my own daughter and how am I modeling myself in a way that empowers her to grow up and be even better than I am—to be a stronger leader and a stronger mom than I am. I have always had positive role models and examples that I was able to learn from, and I think we just have to mirror the same thing for the next generation.

Join us at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit to hear more from Jana! Click here for tickets. 


Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit


Learn how North Texas’ Wonder Women have been a driving force in their industries and what it takes to go above and beyond what is expected.

Bringing together over 400 of the most respected women from global enterprises, non-profits, government and SMB businesses of the North Texas community—Plano Profile’s Women in Business conference celebrates, unites and empowers DFW’s leading ladies.

This one-of-a-kind learning and business event features special guest speakers, panel discussions and ample networking opportunities. This is your chance to learn from the best and share your best.

It’s time to play a bigger game.

MEET OUR SPEAKERS

Merrilee Kick, CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion
Jana Etheridge, Managing VP, Chief of Staff and Customer Office, Financial Services, Capital One
Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance
Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data
Maxie McCoy, author and writer obsessed with giving women the tools they need to believe in themselves
Lauren Przybyl, Fox 4 Good Day Anchor
Jasmin Brand, CEO of Launch DFW and President at Darby James

EVENT AGENDA

10:30 am – 11:30 am Registration and Networking

11:30 am – 4:00 pm

  • Keynote Speaker
  • Lunch
  • Networking / Break-out Sessions
  • Panel Discussion
  • Networking / Break-out Sessions

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Cocktail Party

TICKETS:

Individual, $125 
Table of 8, $750

While the event proudly celebrates the progress and success of women in business, gentlemen are welcome to attend and learn from our powerful female leaders.

Chandler Hodo
Chandler has been captivated by the beauty of the written word since she was a child. She is a lifelong Dallas-Fort Worth resident with a love for storytelling that exceeds any passion she has ever known. Chandler has a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism.

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