No degree, no job
Experience was not enough for this single mom, so she went back to school
In 1998, Lisa Brookshier had a well-paid management job. But everything changed for the single mom of two daughters when her company was sold and the division she worked in shut down.
When she began applying for similar positions, she found more bad news: She was well qualified on the experience side, but, without a degree, no one would even interview her.
“I was overqualified for experience, but they threw my resume away when they saw I had no degree,” she remembers. “I was pretty devastated.”
It quickly became apparent that Brookshier, at age 35, needed to get a college degree. She did, attending Portland State University after winning a Ford Opportunity Scholarship and eventually graduating from Marylhurst University with an MBA in 2006.
they threw my resume away when they saw I had no degree
“I had two daughters in college at the same time I was attending,” she says, “so the scholarship I was awarded supported our whole family.”
With her MBA in hand, Brookshier went on to find a job with a manufacturing company in her hometown of Estacada. She started with a job in human resources, but that quickly got boring, she says, and she was soon named business manager. “I grew the position as I started bringing clients in,” she says.
How did she find success in a male-dominated industry? Be confident of your abilities, Brookshier says. “I earn their respect,” she says, “because I am intelligent and I have a very broad knowledge of industry.”
Brookshier encourages other women to venture into nontraditional careers. “Don’t let your preconceived notions of what the business world is like keep you back,” she advises. “Don’t be afraid to juggle family and career if both are important to you.”
Today, Brookshier works as a procurement counselor, working directly with businesses to help them provide goods and services to the government.
But that’s not all she does. Brookshier has a long history of charitable and community work, which she says is just as important to her as her career.
She recently stepped down after nine years helping lead the Estacada Community Foundation and counts stints with the Oregon Student Assistance Commission and ASPIRE among her favorite activities.
Brookshier was a member of the Estacada cohort of the Ford Institute Leadership Program, where she says she learned the value of collaboration.
“It put a lot of people in the room who don’t normally mix,” she says. “It gave us the opportunity to learn about each other and work together. I so believe in collaboration, that communities should work together and not compete.”
She went on to participate in the Effective Organizations class and recently volunteered to be a Ford Family Foundation Ambassador. Currently, she juggles work with five or six different volunteer positions.
In the manufacturing world, women in senior management are still relatively rare, but Brookshier has worked with plenty in her volunteer activities.
“It’s pretty evident how influential women are in rural activities,” she says. “We’re really good at juggling careers and families—that’s why you see so many of us engaged in our community.”